Topic Area 3.2 Artificial Intelligence: Prepare to be assimilated…

Mar 02, 2020
Learning about artificial intelligence and robotic process automation is not only worthwhile, but they are likely to affect the trajectory of your career in the future, explains John Munnelly.

Topic area 3.2, Artificial Intelligence (AI), introduces the concepts of AI to candidates and focuses on machine learning, natural language processing and robotic process automation (RPA). RPA is rapidly gaining global traction as a productivity tool across all industries and, inevitably, will feature in the careers of current and future FAE candidates. 

At its heart, AI attempts to solve age-old problems of efficiency, value creation and cost-saving. The whole notion of performing repetitive tasks at 100% accuracy and freeing up human operator time to be repositioned higher in the value creation chain is an obvious benefit of AI, but the concepts of AI can be linked to wider parts of the syllabus – namely strategy and decision-making.

Making an impact

Companies considering the adoption of artificial intelligence tools are embarking on strategic change, whether they realise it or not. Decisions made by senior management demands strategic or financial analysis. This is where FAE candidates qualifying as Chartered Accountants can make a big impact. By studying AI, candidates should be able to see opportunities to link lessons from other parts of the Core syllabus, such as business leadership and risk management. 

AI and strategy

The insurance company teaching case in the course materials involves deep learning software prediction. The solution requires the use of project appraisal techniques and strategic choice. 

Candidates should ensure they are comfortable with techniques such as net present value, relevant costs, etc. The potential for change with this technology will offer the examiner the chance to assess trade-offs between status quo and potential AI solutions in indicators. 

Candidates should also bear in mind there may be scenarios where AI is not yet a ready-made solution. (Perhaps the SIPOC framework could help candidates assess the case for automation in such circumstances.)

This part of the syllabus is broken down into an initial classroom session to work through the principles and a second self-guided day, using the RPA tools of UiPath. Candidates will be able to create their own first automated process. The process is intuitive and can be taken at a candidate's own pace. Go wild, candidates – experiment and enjoy! Aligned with your wider FAE knowledge, some of you will create automations that will fundamentally change business for the better.