Say Hello To Your New Finance Colleague: The Cognitive Assistant

Estelle Lagorce

Artifical intelligence (AI) has been talked about for years. But it is only with the advent of Big Data and low-cost, high-performance graphics processing units (GPUs) that machine learning capabilities have been dramatically improved. And cognitive assistants – systems that employ cognitive technology to interact with people and make our lives easier – are one of the fastest-growing areas of the AI/machine learning genre.

Cognitive assistants are already commonly used in consumer situations – setting your sleep alarm, turning down your thermostat at night, and telling you what movies are playing at your local cinema. But their use in business has been relatively unexploited, until now. Both Deloitte and SAP see huge potential for cognitive assistants to ease the burden on workers, particularly in finance.

With cognitive assistants capable of recognizing patterns and understanding the meaning of Big Data in a human-like way, there is the opportunity to automate and reimagine business processes like never before, particularly those that are repetitive and mundane.

Cognitive agents can help finance teams make sense of complex information, perform digital tasks like matching invoices with payments, make recommendations about various courses of action, and bring awareness of context to an interaction.

In this brave new world, data captured from bank statements, invoices, bills, and other transactions can be used to teach software to perform many of finance’s most routine tasks, leaving humans free to supervise machines, fix errors, and train them further.

SAP sees huge potential for improving how businesses run and is investing heavily in AI research and machine learning. “SAP’s vision for machine learning and artificial intelligence goes way beyond one business application. It’s about creating business value by infusing our entire set of solutions with more intelligence, and providing a platform for our employees and an ecosystem to build machine learning solutions on,” said Juergen Mueller, chief innovation officer at SAP.

Deloitte is equally confident of the benefits cognitive assistants can bring. As Tom Davenport and Rajeev Ronanki of Deloitte postulated in their article The Rise of Cognitive Agents, “Before long, we may even see that humans prefer to talk with machines, because of their vast knowledge, ability to take detailed contextual factors into account, and inability to become upset or befuddled.”

Don’t be surprised if your next work colleague is a cognitive assistant.

Learn more

Access the Deloitte University Press article, The Rise of Cognitive Agents.

See the ForbesBrandVoice article, Not Your Mother’s Artificial Intelligence.


Estelle Lagorce

About Estelle Lagorce

Estelle Lagorce is the Director, Global Partner Marketing, at SAP. She leads the global planning, successful implementation and business impact of integrated marketing programs with top global Strategic Partner across priority regions and countries (demand generation, thought leadership).