We’re now registered providers with the CPD Certification Service

We’re now registered providers with the CPD Certification Service

August 5th, 2021

Millennium Consulting is pleased to announce that they are now an official registered provider with the CPD Certification Service. Established in 1996, The CPD Certification Service is the largest and leading independent CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors.

This means finance professionals undertaking courses run by Millennium Consulting count towards annual professional development requirements set by professional regulators. Any delegate attending the future courses will be issued with an accredited CPD Certificate of Attendance, which they can subsequently use within their formal CPD record for a professional body, institute or employer.

Millennium is currently submitting courses for approval, and these will soon be available to book via the CPD Service.

Jeremy Lucas at Millennium Consulting said, “I am pleased to announce that Millennium Consulting is working towards being able to offer CPD certified courses to finance professionals. This is not only further confirmation of the high quality of our services but also endorses our view of the importance of good assessment practice. Our CPD programme will allows you to keep up to date with the latest industry trends and best practice, learn new skills and develop existing ones.”

Our accreditation can be verified by clicking this link: https://cpduk.co.uk/providers/millennium-consulting


July Newsletter 2021

Welcome to the Millennium July Newsletter!

With summer now in full swing, July is shaping up to be an exceptional month of top-class sport. The wait for English football success continues when England reached the finals of the Euros but despite their valiant efforts were narrowly beaten on penalties by a determined Italian side. Wimbledon has also been taking place with Djokovic beating Berrettini to win his 20th Grand Slam title. Coming up next is golf with The Open taking place at Sandwich and there is also the British Lions rugby tour and the Olympics in Japan to enjoy.

The COVID-19 pandemic is receding and England is now just a few days away from the 19th July when the remaining restrictions will be lifted and normality will return. The remaining limits on social contact will be removed and large events will be able to resume without attendance limits or social distancing requirements. COVID-status certification will no longer be required as a condition of entry and face coverings will not be needed. With social distancing rules being lifted, the government will no longer instruct people to work from home.

We have a busy period ahead with over 6 events taking place this month. Continue reading below for further news from Millennium Consulting.


Join our Unit4 FP&A webinar. We will be scratching the surface on what Unit4 FP&A offers organisations from planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes, through to touching on more regulated requirements including IFRS16 and Financial Consolidations. The session is aimed at introducing how FP&A can help any organisation connect strategy and execution from a forward looking perspective.

Agenda:

A brief introduction to and overview of FP&A
Brief product demonstration of top down target setting
Dashboarding and self service analytics
Disclosure and reporting
Q&A

This free webinar continues the series of online themed events that Millennium runs to help ensure your finance department makes better use of Unit4 Financials.

Register here

IFRS17 Online Symposium

With the IFRS17 compliance journey for many insurance companies now progressing to systems build, development, UAT and dry runs, we are inviting senior IFRS17 change managers/sponsors to join this IFRS17 Online Symposium to hear about the experience of insurance peers.

This event is part of a quarterly series taking place throughout 2021 during which you will find out how insurers are meeting the IFRS17 compliance challenge.

The format is as follows:

2.00-2.10 p.m
Introduction

2.10-2.30 p.m
User Case Study with Stuart Johnson, Head of Finance IFRS 17 Implementation at Beazley

2.30-3.00 p.m
Case Study Q&A

3.00-3.30 p.m
Panel Q&A – panel to be confirmed

Register here

Our Millennium Raising Futures Kenya 2021 Golf Day

It’s fair to say that the summer of 2021 has been unpredictable weatherwise, so when the annual Millennium Consulting Raising Futures Kenya Golf Day took place on the 2nd July it was hard to know what to expect.

Faversham Golf Club in Kent played host and the event continued the tradition of supporting Raising Futures Kenya (formerly Vision Africa) over the past 16 years.

Heartfelt thanks are due to the loyal support of our many corporate sponsors, the players who took part and the event organisers without whose organisational skills the day would not have run so well.

The weather turned out ideal and with the golf course in good condition, an enjoyable day was had by all. The format was a Ryder Cup style competition with European v USA teams vying once more for the Millennium trophy. With evenly matched teams, this year it was the turn of Europe, captained by Craig Bassingthwaighte and vice-captain Malcolm Coton to emerge as victors.

Find out more about our successful day here.


Click the image below to find out more about our Unit4 Financials Global Conference 2021:


Employee Spotlight: Phil Leaf 

This month we continue our Employee Spotlight series, a chance for you to meet the faces behind Millennium Consulting.

Say hello to Phil Leaf

We asked Phil a few questions, such as what superpower he would choose, his worst job and what current professional skill is he learning – all the hard-hitting questions!

To find out more about our team, click here. 

If you could give your past self-advice, what would it be?
Live for today, tomorrow can wait.

What would your superpower be and why?
To travel through time. I read a lot so know about the past, but I am very curious about the future. I’m saving up for a DeLorean!

What is your favourite food?
Something from my childhood Tapioca pudding. It is very hard to get these days!

What is one professional skill you are currently working on?
I am currently gaining a better insight into the use of data archiving. It is a little understood, highly complex area, normally due to sub-optimal implementation.


June Newsletter

June Newsletter 2021

Welcome to our June Newsletter!

The summer solstice has passed but there is still plenty to look forward to this summer as Covid restrictions ease. The sporting calendar is packed with a phased return to in person attendance at events such as the Euros, Wimbledon and The Open golf.

With lockdown reducing and the government expected to advise on a phased return to the office, the second half of 2021 looks promising as the UK economy rebounds and returns to growth.


We are pleased to announce a strategic alliance with Hennessy IT Consulting

We have created a strategic alliance with Unit4 ERP Premier Partner Hennessy IT Consulting to deliver Unit4 ERP and FP&A software and services.

Millennium Consulting CEO, Philip Keet states that “The Millennium and Hennessy alliance will combine the strength of our companies, allowing us to be a focused delivery implementor, combining the Millennium’s expertise and customer-centric capabilities currently provided for Unit4 Financials to drive excellence in Unit4 ERP software and services delivery”.

Strategic Alliance with Hennessy IT

We sign a partnership agreement with Diesis

Millennium partnership with Diesis

Joining forces and sharing expertise, that is what the partnership between Millennium Consulting and the Dutch consultancy Diesis is all about.

Tino Wendriks, Managing Director at Diesis added: “Just like Diesis, Millennium can also call upon many years of knowledge and experience, both functional and technical. Our co-operation will lead to a further strengthening of both our positions in the Unit4 Financials market. Whereby we can help each other in supporting our international clients!”

We look forward to a successful partnership and continuing and deepening our support of the Unit4 customer base.



Our 2021 Golf Day is fast approaching!

The 2nd of July is almost upon us, how quickly has that come around?

Our 2021 Golf Day is set to be a great day, with all proceeds for the day going towards Raising Futures Kenya.

We have been a long-term supporter of Raising Futures Kenya, having been involved for over 17 years. In 2020 the Covid pandemic severely affected the organisation with reduced amounts of funds raised as the world descended into lockdown and the need to stay at home prevented face-to-face student training.

Millennium 2021 Golf Day

Photo of Chris Peall

Say hello to Chris Peall!

We have started our new Employee Spotlight series, a chance for you to meet the faces behind Millennium Consulting.

We asked Chris a few questions, such as the weirdest food he has eaten, 🐱 or 🐶, go-to karaoke song – all the hard-hitting questions!

  • What is one professional skill you are currently working on?

Product Management. Being accountable for all our products is a huge task. So much time and passion go into the development of our products, and for our customers, they are a critical part of realising their business goals.

  • How do you prefer to start your day?

Straight into the shower, followed by breakfast, a large cup of Yorkshire Tea (builders!), and then I hit the ground running with work. There is nothing like starting a new day to get the creative juices flowing.

  • Dogs or cats?

Dogs, although I like all animals. I have two dogs, Frodo is a Lab/Collie cross, and Pan is a Whippet/Greyhound/Collie cross. I prefer dogs as they provide a great excuse to go for a long walk in the country every day.

  • Go-to karaoke song?

I would not wish to inflict the sound of my singing on anyone. I love music and sing to myself, but I am utterly without musical talent. I have a very wide-ranging taste in music; from classical, Viking death metal, rock, pop you name it.

  • Weirdest food you have ever eaten?

Many years of army life has seen me eat pretty much everything. The weirdest though was when I was in the Arctic. We ate what was basically hot jam with porridge oats. It was so dry the oats stuck to the roof of your mouth. I swore I was never going to eat it again and when lockdown happened, I began to fear what was left in my cupboards!


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Strategic Alliance with Hennessy IT

Millennium Consulting and Hennessy IT Consulting announce Strategic Alliance

Millennium Consulting and Hennessy IT Consulting announce Strategic Alliance

June 9th, 2021

Strategic Alliance with Hennessy IT

Unit4 Financials Elite Partner Millennium Consulting and Unit4 ERP Premier Partner Hennessy IT Consulting have today announced a strategic alliance to deliver Unit4 ERP and FP&A software and services.

Founded in 1995, Millennium Consulting is a Unit4 Financials software and services company with offices in the UK, Italy and the United States whilst Hennessy IT Consulting has offices in Scotland and Ireland delivering Unit4 ERP software consultancy and was established in 2010.

Millennium Consulting CEO, Philip Keet states that “The Millennium and Hennessy alliance will combine the strength of our companies, allowing us to be a focused delivery implementor, combining the Millennium’s expertise and customer centric capabilities currently provided for Unit4 Financials to drive excellence in Unit4 ERP software and services delivery“.

The alliance will subsequently be formalised in a Joint-Venture company which will enable each party to contribute fully to enabling customers to successfully deploy software from the Unit4 product suite.


Partnership with Diesis

Millennium Consulting and Diesis Sign Partnership Agreement

Millennium Consulting and Diesis Sign Partnership Agreement

June 9th, 2021

Partnership with Diesis

Joining forces and sharing expertise, that is what the partnership between Millennium Consulting and the Dutch consultancy Diesis is all about.

Separately both companies have more than 25 years of experience with Unit4 Financials. The companies already meet regularly in the field and share experiences and knowledge around Unit4 Financials. With this agreement, the co-operation between the only two Global Unit4 Financials Elite partners is confirmed.

Jeremy Lucas, Chief Operating Officer of Millennium Consulting said: “I am delighted about the partnership agreement with Diesis. We are looking forward to working together and using our extensive experience and combined knowledge to greatly enhance the support of Unit4 Financials clients globally.”

Tino Wendriks, Managing Director at Diesis added: “We have known Millennium for a long time since we both have been operating on the Unit4 Financials (Coda) market for more than two decades. Just like Diesis, Millennium can also call upon many years of knowledge and experience, both functional and technical. Our co-operation will lead to a further strengthening of both our positions in the Unit4 Financials market. Whereby we can help each other in supporting our international clients!”

We look forward to a successful partnership and continuing and deepening our support of the Unit4 customer base.


Millennium Consulting continues expansion by moving to new UK head-quarters

Millennium Consulting continues expansion by moving to new UK head-quarters 

March 24th, 2021

Next week on Monday 29th March, Millennium Consulting will be moving to new head-quarters in the former NatWest Bank building in Hythe, Kent, England. Since 2017 the building has been empty following the closure of the branch however an extensive refurbishment/modernisation program has taken place in recent months and the building is now ready for occupation.

“We are looking forward to moving to this beautiful Grade 2 listed building at the heart of the local Hythe community. Our Kent employees live in Hythe and the surrounding areas and we expect the new office will become a dynamic collaborative hub for the business. We are excited about the team and infrastructure we are putting in place as we prepare for the post-pandemic era.” Philip Keet, Millennium Consulting CEO.

In 2020, Millennium Consulting celebrated 25 years supporting clients with Finance Transformation and Regulatory Change programs. Having started out in 1995 as a specialist finance systems consultancy, the wider challenges of Y2K were soon recognised and attention switched to transitioning a diverse range of clients to new Y2K compliant software. Based initially in the City of London, the company relocated to Hythe in 2009.

Today Millennium Consulting is an international management consultancy that supports clients with the deployment of next generation financial and operational technology. The company works globally across multiple industry sectors and has teams located in Italy and the US.

In 2020 Millennium was awarded Elite Partner status by Dutch ERP software vendor Unit4. The Unit4 global partner program launched in June 2020 operates across three levels focusing upon capabilities, contributions and customer satisfaction and Elite status is the highest level within the partner program.


New appointments

New appointments

February 24th, 2021

Millennium Consulting is delighted to announce the appointments of Sam Guilding, Jeremy Lucas, Adam Leach, Chris Peal, Lucy Keet and Sam Keet.

Sam Guilding has been appointed Head of Marketing with responsibility for on and offline. She joined Millennium with over 10 years experience working within PR and Social Media across multiple sectors.

Jeremy Lucas has been appointed Director of Professional Services & Consulting and has assumed overall responsibility for client program delivery. He is a senior financial market professional with over 20 year’s Banking and Management consulting experience.

Adam Leach has been appointed Principal Technical Consultant to play a key role in developing the Insurance market sector consulting operation with particular focus upon accounting rules engine technologies such as Aptitude to support IFRS17 regulatory compliance. He is an experienced Senior Developer and Data Analyst with a successful record working as a consultant within the Insurance, Banking and Telecom sectors.

Chris Peal has been appointed Project Manager with responsibility for managing cross- industry projects across multiple technology platforms. He joins bringing a successful record of project delivery focussing upon data science and supporting businesses modernise their data landscape.

Lucy Keet has been appointed Social Media Manager with responsibility for delivering the Millennium message across multiple social media platforms. Previously she worked as a Marketing Executive within the Retail sector.

Sam Keet has been appointed Client Services Executive within the marketing department to enhance client communications.  Prior to joining Millennium, Sam worked within recruitment in the City of London.

We are excited about the team emerging at Millennium as we put the foundations in place to prepare for the coming post-pandemic era.


Five Solutions to Streamline your Accounting Process

Five Solutions to Streamline your Accounting Process

February 12th, 2021

Even with the power of Unit4 Financials at your fingertips, there are still several ancillary processes that exist within the finance ecosystem that can benefit from greater automation and streamlining.

From invoice matching to document scanning, discover the modules and add-ons that can drive efficiency and reduce operational risk in your finance function.

1. Purchase Order Processing (POP) / Purchase Invoice Matching (PIM)

Unit4 Financials Purchase Order Processing (POP) and Purchase Invoice Matching (PIM) enable you to better understand, control and manage costs.

The modules provide improved invoice matching, budgetary control and cash flow forecasting to help you:

  • Approve costs before incurring them
  • Enhance internal controls
  • Take committed costs into account
  • Consolidate your costs
  • Improve your reporting output

POP and PIM enable you to make better decisions and increase project profitability across your finance function.

2. Billing

Fully integrated with the core Unit4 Financials framework, the Billing module simplifies your invoicing process – removing the need for integrations with third- party billing systems.

The user-defined product catalogue, with individual item characteristics and rules, ensures accurate, complete and up-to- date data in your invoices and general ledger.

You can also easily design invoice templates, define invoice layouts and statements.

The module provides you with:

  • Item Catalogue for Purchasing & Selling
  • Drag and drop functionality to design and customise the layout of screens
  • Configurable data entry screen

3. MBilling Icorp

For firms that require complex functionality (or need to send out high volumes of sales invoices), a comprehensive sales invoicing/ billing solution is essential.

Seamlessly integrated into Unit4 Financials, MBilling powered by Icorp supports high-data volumes and contains powerful billing / sales invoicing functionality – including a comprehensive rules engine, smart algorithms and data bridging.

Transform your accounting processes with intelligent software that can extract information from any source system, reducing operational risk and improving efficiency.

4. Invoice4 Document Scanning & OCR

Transform your approach to the Accounts Payable process with Invoice4, enabling you to receive 100% of your invoices electronically from day one.

By directly receiving purchase invoices (whether paper, PDF, email, XML or EDI), Invoice4 introduces a new starting point. It allows you to view accurate, cleansed electronic invoices from your existing Unit4 Financials system without the need for extensive data entry and associated errors.

Fully integrated and certified, the solution provides the lowest risk and most cost-effective means of capturing purchase invoices, giving you a great head start in processing invoices with the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness.

5. Digital Invoicing

Digital Invoicing gives you an efficient method for transmitting and storing invoices – streamlining your Sales & Purchasing processes.

It also helps you to reduce the use of paper and the associated costs of printing, shipping and storage.

The module allows you to produce, transmit and store electronic invoices in XML format – giving you greater control over the elements contained in each document.

It provides you with the ability to map and post incoming invoices into Unit4 Financials, while producing XML files from outgoing invoices.

Contact us for further details


Want to find out more about how to streamline your accounting processes?

For further information or to book an online demonstration, please complete the form and a member or our team will get back to you shortly. Alternatively call us on +44 (0) 845 604 4262


Delivering Finance Transformation: A pandemic shouldn’t mean pushing back

Delivering Finance Transformation: A pandemic shouldn’t mean pushing back

February 10th, 2021

As of early 2021, the backdrop for a major finance office transformation project could hardly look more challenging. Organisations remain in recovery and stabilisation mode. Roles have been amalgamated, workforces are largely scattered and budgets are under pressure. So does this mean that transformation ambitions are being put on ice for the time being? Far from it.

According to Deloitte, 73% of organisations were using automation, machine learning and similar technologies at the end of last year, up from 58% prior to the pandemic. These capabilities certainly proved their worth, with two thirds (68%) of business leaders using automation to respond to the impact of Covid.

This is exactly the time when legacy systems and processes could benefit from an injection of efficiency. But if the finance department is grappling with organisational disruption, how do you go about getting your plans off the ground?

Here’s a closer look at the Covid-related barriers to finance transformation execution, and how to overcome them.

The Challenges

Competing Priorities

According to your original plans, 2020 may have been your year for overhauling outmoded finance processes and updating your reporting capabilities. However, once the pandemic arrived, priorities shifted. CFOs frequently take the strategic lead on transformation, with considerable input from IT. Inevitably though, IT departments suddenly found themselves having to devote time and resources to the rollout of technologies such as video conferencing, VPNs, laptops and printers for home use, as well as the provision of remote support. New tech for finance may have got pushed to the back of the queue.

By now, the initial technical set-up woes linked to the sudden shift to home working are largely behind us. But if IT is still focused on things like cloud architecture, the introduction of new collaboration software and enabling blended home/office working, it could be that the implementation of specialist finance technology remains pretty low down the priority list.

A reduced workforce

When the staffing budget is under pressure, the office of finance is not necessarily immune to cutbacks. And if team members are furloughed or let go, it usually means a larger workload for those remaining.

Against this background, the focus may very well be on keeping the lights on: i.e. while focusing on core tasks with a skeleton staff, the feeling is that there simply isn’t the bandwidth to devote to transformation projects.

Scattered employees

Typically, a finance transformation strategy covers a review of organisation-wide reporting processes, a review of your data sources and architecture and side-by-side analysis of possible new solutions to adopt. Next comes implementation, migration, training and optimisation. It’s a lot – and it usually involves multiple stakeholders from across the company.

Effective communication is key to the delivery of any project; especially if you have to coax busy people into action! In normal times, when everyone is in the same building, all of those ad-hoc mini-meetings and impromptu watercooler moments can actually go a long way in keeping things moving. If interaction is currently mostly limited to your morning Zoom meetings, it can be hard to build any kind of impetus.

The Solution: Getting Finance Transformation Back on Track

Restate the business case for transformation

You can characterise technologies as either ‘business critical’ or ‘nice to have’. And right now, many organisations are focusing solely on the former.

This is the time to restate the case for office of finance transformation, not as a luxury, but as something that’s absolutely critical to building business resilience. By way of illustration, here’s a rundown of what’s typically expected of the finance department in the current climate, and at how transformation projects can directly address these critical requirements:

We expect finance to ‘do more with less’. New capabilities such as automated close and consolidation, budgeting and forecasting will help reduce the huge amount of resources expended on routine tasks. Regardless of any staffing pressures you may be facing, your regulatory and compliance burden remains stubbornly real. Specialist solutions to address specific compliance issues (for instance, lease accounting and revenue received) will go a long way in helping you stay on top of your obligations.

We need finance to be more involved in strategy. Updating your reporting capabilities will reduce the time needed for manual-heavy tasks, freeing up time to devote to strategy. Also, for your input to be of real value, you are going to need the ability to track, measure and analyse key metrics and deliverables.

We need to predict future events and respond quicker to change. Volatility and unpredictability are likely to be permanent features on the landscape. When Gartner asked top CFOs to list their priorities for 2021, “Advanced data analytics technologies’ came top. To us, this comes as no surprise. Weathering the storm demands the ability to model for a range of scenarios, to analyse rapidly changing conditions in real or near-time, and to pivot quickly: something that’s very difficult if you are still struggling with Excel for modelling.

As a CFO, you may currently be experiencing board-level pushback to transformation due to budget restraints or staffing limitations. If so, it’s worth stressing that if the finance function is to deliver the type of business-critical insights expected of it, it is imperative that processes, workflows, reporting and analytics capabilities are rendered fit for purpose.

A new approach to management

With authorisation to proceed with your transformation strategy in place, it’s important to consider the practicalities of execution.

If you have led internal change projects in the past, bear in mind that this one may require a slightly different approach. Remote working means that short-notice, face-to-face roundtables may no longer be an option. The same goes for being able to pop your head around colleagues’ doors to check on progress.

Tip: in addition to regular video-con updates, where multiple stakeholders have designated tasks to complete in order to progress the project, a simple project management tool such as Trello can make all the difference in keeping matters on track.

Also, when it comes to actual implementation, beware of false assumptions on what is and isn’t possible remotely. You may be pleasantly surprised here. For instance, Millennium Consulting’s experts are routinely able to manage and execute all aspects of new finance technology implementation remotely. This includes scoping and planning, right through to migration, installs, configuration and training.

Filling in the skills gaps

Even in ‘normal’ times, managing and executing finance transformation is not easy. It demands expertise in data management and architecture, reporting best practice, an eye for the right technology to avoid making expensive mistakes, the know-how to configure it correctly and put it to work, together with project management experience to bring everything together.

The skillset may seem daunting: even more so if Covid-related budget restraints make it difficult to hire new talent. This is where external input can prove invaluable. Rather than the ‘hard sell’ on favoured technologies, or rigid, needlessly expensive support packages, what you really need is unbiased expert advice and targeted input to complement your own internal resources.

Ready to get your finance transformation project back on track? Speak to Millennium Consulting today.

Contact us for further details


For targeted help in addressing each of these questions, submit your details and one of our experts will be in touch.


AI replace human decision-making

AI replace human decision-making

February 4th, 2021

Myths Busted: AI is no Replacement for Human Decision Making

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now firmly within the mainstream. Microsoft recently found that 56% of UK organisations are using it to some degree. The same research also pointed to a clear competitive advantage linked to AI, with businesses already using it performing an average of 11.5% better than those who are not.

For forward-thinking businesses, technologies such as machine learning, national language processing and predictive modelling are helping them make sense of potentially vast amounts of data, reduce error and boost output.

But what happens when the machines go one step further? It is one thing for algorithmic analysis to flag up a problem. The controversy arises where the system automatically generates a solution, decides on a course of action and executes it, eliminating the need for human intervention.

It is easy to see why individual employees may push back against this type of technology, and how this could be a very real barrier to transformation. After all, why would you actively welcome a new tool, if it threatens to make your role redundant?

Meanwhile, last summer’s exam furore over predicted grades demonstrates that algorithms don’t always get it right. Taking into account issues such as accountability, regulatory oversight and company reputation, businesses themselves are right to be wary of relying solely on AI for important decisions.

So how do you get it right? As we’ll see, the most effective uses of AI within the workplace don’t actually replace human decision making. Rather, they enhance it. Here’s how…

AI frees up bandwidth

What do we want from our departmental managers, finance team and other key staff?

Almost certainty, if you can possibly help it, you do not want highly-skilled employees bogged down in routine, transactional tasks. You want them to put their expertise directly to work, solving business problems and driving strategy.

This actually dovetails with what employees themselves want. Direct involvement in the decision-making process tends to boost engagement. And as Gallup demonstrated, highly engaged employees tend to produce better outcomes.

So where does AI fit into this? The fear is sometimes that the software will end up doing the decision-making for you, resulting in reduced scope for human input. In reality, most businesses find that the reverse is true.

AI lets employees process and analyse data much faster and more accurately than they would otherwise. Take your accounts department, for instance: through machine learning, they have the potential to process transactions, to automatically unearth and address irregularities in record time, and with the minimum of human intervention. The time and input required for routine reporting is dramatically reduced.

Meanwhile, with solutions linked not just to finance but also to areas such as manufacturing, logistics, marketing and customer care, AI concepts such as natural language processing are being put to work. For example, it’s becoming possible for employees to execute all manner of routine tasks simply by asking a voice-enabled communications assistant.

Businesses are increasingly finding that AI is reducing the time required for necessary but routine work. These are precisely the type of tasks that eat into employees’ time and prevent them from taking a more active role in decision making.

PwC found that in forward-thinking firms, 75% of business analysts’ time is spent on developing insight. In simple terms, if you want humans to bring their experience to the table and become more active in decision making, AI is pretty much essential technology.

AI delivers the full picture

What do customers really think about our brand? Where is the next big trend coming from? How can we tell when a client is about to leave for a competitor, or a piece of machinery is about to malfunction?

Conventional performance management solutions and other types of business software are fine for basic number crunching but isn’t always capable of answering these kinds of big questions.

Humans are much better at interpreting nuance. Trouble is, we cannot be expected to read absolutely everything that may be relevant to business decisions, and we can’t be on call 24/7.

An estimated 73% of company data goes unused for data analysis. Often, this is because certain datasets are too difficult to interpret: data is unstructured, or else there’s just too much of it.

AI happens to be extremely useful at sifting through and making sense of data that would otherwise be out of bounds to decision makers. Examples include sentiment analysis tools that can constantly scan swathes of content on social media platforms to pick out insights, or finance regulatory tools that can ‘read’ complex documents and flag up compliance issues. Over time, a manufacturing plant monitoring tool can ‘learn’ to recognise the various combinations of readings that might indicate performance issues. When these circumstances arise, the issue is automatically flagged up.

In these use cases, AI opens up data streams that might otherwise be difficult to interpret in large quantities. It doesn’t have to make the role of human decision makers redundant. Rather, it picks up on insights that would otherwise be missed and makes sure you are in possession of the full facts before deciding what action to take.

Looking to the future

What about AI’s role when it comes to day-to-day processing decisions?

Take decisions linked to consumer credit, for instance. Where individual employees are left to decide what credit options should be made available to customers, it’s easy for bias to creep in, or for inconsistencies to emerge. If you have an AI-based tool that’s able to process a customer’s details and assess their risk based on set rules, there’s the potential for much more consistent decision making across the business.

But of course, any AI solution is only as effective as the algorithm behind it. To avoid bias (along with risky approvals), continued human oversight is essential. Otherwise, you risk systemising into the decision-making process the very things you want to avoid.

At its best, AI disrupts the human decision-making process. With the ability to read and interpret vast quantities of data, it has the potential to put relevant information at your fingertips faster than ever before.

A recent estimate for the banking sector suggests that we can soon expect decision-making processes to be 34% informed by machine algorithms and 66% by human judgment. This is probably a realistic interpretation of what the future holds: AI will have a big part to play in informing decisions, but the final decision will remain with people.