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Mosaic’s AI Manifesto: Unlocking the Next Era of Strategic Finance

Published on November 15, 2023, Last Updated on March 4, 2024
Adam Landefeld

Head of Product

Artificial intelligence just got real in the world of finance. It's more accessible, affordable, and scalable than ever. And it's opening the door for finance teams to move faster, more efficiently, and more strategically. Here's how we're approaching the revolution at Mosaic.

When we started Mosaic in 2019, we did so with one core idea in mind — that the role of the CFO had grown significantly in recent years, but the finance toolkit had not kept up.

That was the seed for strategic finance, an evolution of traditional FP&A meant to transform finance from backward-looking scorekeeper to proactive growth catalyst for the business. We’ve spent four years building Mosaic to facilitate the shift outlined here:

But almost as quickly as it started, we’re entering a new era of strategic finance — one that’s going to be fueled by the transformative power of generative AI. Suddenly, some of the biggest challenges we set out to tackle can be solved almost in the blink of an eye.

And we couldn’t be more excited about it.

The future of finance may seem uncertain amidst all the hype surrounding generative AI and how quickly it’s evolving. Here’s how we’re thinking about it as we usher in the next generation of strategic finance.

Automation, Augmentation, and Empowerment

From Day 1 of founding Mosaic, we’ve believed the key to strategic finance is to flip the traditional pyramid of your responsibilities on its head — from spending the majority of your time on low-value, manual work to focusing primarily on forward-looking insights.

The explosion of AI’s potential will only strengthen our ability to automate those tedious, low-value tasks. And that automation is what will unlock the true potential of AI as a way to augment your expertise.

Pushing toward the nirvana state of strategic finance means empowering you and your team to do more impactful work for partners across the organization.

And with an AI-powered Strategic Finance Platform, you’ll have the time and insights to focus on things that will always require a human touch.

We Believe “Trust, But Verify” Becomes Even More Important

The “trust, but verify” philosophy will always be critical to the finance function. And it becomes even more important as AI becomes more infused with what you do.

We believe the value of AI is not in automated decision making, but rather in its ability to empower decision makers. The last thing you ever want is to lose control of the financial narrative — for your business partners to run forward with numbers or overviews you haven’t vetted.

Instead, AI should highlight, generate, correlate, and explain insights and data points to give you as much ammo as possible to support your business the way you want to. And it should only take action when you’ve approved the recommendation.

Unleash your team’s full potential

We Believe in the End of Complex Workflows

The true value of AI goes far beyond simple chat experiences or the ability to parse and summarize large amounts of data. Next-generation finance software will leverage AI to eliminate your most complex workflows entirely.

Think of all the complexity that comes with building out your financial model from scratch. Today, we can automate the data aggregation process and provide a streamlined interface to build different model components. But the time and mental energy necessary to customize those components for your unique business needs and define your critical metrics and financial assumptions remains.

We believe AI should be able to take simple prompts regarding business model parameters and assumptions and model out revenue, headcount, and expenses for your review. The ability to execute these complex workflows will fundamentally change how you can interact with finance software and prioritize your resources.

We Believe in Focusing More on the “Why” than the “What”

The modern finance leader is an empathetic business partner with a customer service mindset when it comes to working with executives, board members, and department leaders.

No amount of AI can replicate that human connection. And the financial storytelling aspect of your job is the perfect example of that.

AI-powered software is great at establishing the “what” — aggregating data, highlighting anomalies, calling out patterns, summarizing key insights. This has historically required a significant amount of time and forced finance to spend more time as analyst than strategist. Speeding that process up with AI empowers you to focus more on the “why” — applying human reasoning to the data and taking corrective action if and when necessary.

The Four Roles of AI in Finance

The modern finance professional has to be so much more than a traditional finance expert. You have to be equal parts analyst, data administrator, modeler, and strategist to support the business. But you shouldn’t have to do it all alone.

Used effectively, AI becomes the multi-faceted team member you need to maximize your value in each of those roles. Here’s how we see some of the use cases breaking out.

AI as Financial Data Analyst

Some of the best use cases for AI in the short term will be in analyzing actuals in real time. While AI can’t replace the human element of storytelling, there are plenty of ways that it can supplement your efforts to understand the numbers.

  • Anomaly and outlier detection. Highlight meaningful variances each month to help you prioritize conversations with business partners and update forecasts as needed.
  • Causation and correlation. Use generative AI to identify correlations in the data, like how much sales increases alongside pipeline or how much an increase in COGS impacts gross margin. Create a first draft of the narrative to get a head start on your storytelling.
  • Custom metric creation. Use natural language to generate formulas based on the building blocks of your financial data. Build custom metrics without manual spreadsheet work or needing to know programming languages to query datasets.

AI as Financial Modeler

Your value as a finance modeler should be more about how you use models to guide the business, not simply your ability to build the models. Use AI to streamline the most complex aspects of building a model to focus more on your role as strategist.

  • Error flagging. Identify areas where financial models aren’t delivering the outputs you expect. Understand where formulas are breaking or assumptions aren’t working.
  • Baseline model building. Let AI learn from your historicals to create baseline models that accurately represent your business. Then, focus more on customizing the baseline to unique planning needs.
  • Scenario planning. Use generative AI to turn your base model into a variety of scenarios based on natural language. Pose “what-if” questions and see how assumptions and outputs would change.
  • Agile model adjustments. Automatically adjust models based on actual performance (e.g. if the hiring plan is behind, automatically update the cash balance forecast).

AI as Data Administrator

Whether finance is directly responsible for data management or you’re at a larger organization with dedicated data admin resources, AI should eliminate a lot of the tedious, manual aspects of the job.

  • Financial data cleanup. Eliminate garbage in, garbage out situations with improved data type casting and an ability to identify hygiene issues in your source data. Flag errors for more targeted cleanup.
  • Data readiness and context. Transform any data into unified a vocabulary for the business. Leverage AI to make sense data from across all business systems and map it to the right financial constructures (e.g. normalizing MRR data from a Stripe and Snowflake integration).
  • Sensitive data identification. Ensure PII, PHI, and SEC regulated data remain private by flagging when sensitive data is shared inadvertently with the wrong people.

AI as Strategist

While AI can’t replace the human element of strategic finance, its ability to understand your data makes it a resource for adding horsepower to your forward-looking insights.

  • Storytelling support. Leverage generative AI to provide an initial structure for your financial reports and analyses. Summarize key data points, highlight outliers, and focus on refining the narrative rather than starting from scratch.
  • Operational plan recommendations. Identify patterns in spend and performance metrics to create recommendations for operational planning updates. Support frequent reforecasting so the business can work more proactively.
  • Benchmark comparison insights. Generate ideas for strategic initiatives based on how your business performs against industry benchmarks.
  • Business partner support. Help department leaders and others outside of finance better understand the numbers to create a better foundation for collaborative planning.

Our Promise to You

The truth is, AI’s impact on the world at large has barely just begun. And in the finance space specifically, we probably don’t even have the right language to describe its impact yet.

But our promise to you is that Mosaic will remain at the forefront of the conversation. We’ll continue listening to your biggest pain points, finding the best technical approaches to solve those problems, and iterating on an AI layer that’s purpose-built for what truly matters to you.

We aren’t just building AI for the sake of AI and our mission remains the same as it’s always been — to make finance a more strategic powerhouse of any organization by giving them clarity of what the future can be. And we continue to bring together technology, finance best practices, and cutting-edge innovation to make that vision a reality.

If you want to join us as we take strategic finance into its next era, reach out for a demo to see exactly how we’re putting AI to work today.

 

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