Google’s Vice President and Head of Finance Kristin Reinke said Alphabet Inc. is automating as many financial tasks as possible to reduce manual work completed by staff.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Monday (April 11), Reinke said the California-based software company is using artificial intelligence (AI), the cloud, raw data and machine learning to digitize its finance operations.
“Anything that can be automated, we strive to automate,” she said. “There’s so much judgment that is required as a finance organization, and that’s something that you can’t automate, but you can automate the more routine activities of a finance organization by giving them these tools.”
While Google still uses spreadsheets and other tools that cannot be automated, Reinke said the goal is to focus on how automation can improve processes, make the company a better partner to its client business and reinvest time saved into the next business challenge.
“The flux analysis required for closing the books was once a very manual process,” she told the newspaper. “It took about a full day of knitting together various spreadsheets to pinpoint those outliers.”
Today, she said, the combination of digital tools takes one to two hours and the quality of the analysis is much better, as “[we] can spot trends quicker and diagnose outliers.”
Still, Reinke said there is more to be done. For instance, Google’s forecast accuracy tool is one place that be improved.
“This tool uses machine learning to generate accurate forecasts, and it outperforms the manual, analyst-developed forecast in 80% of the cases,” she said. “There’s interest and excitement about the potential for this kind of work to be automated, but adoption of the tool itself has been slow …”
Earlier this month, Google announced it was making a number of updates to its business hours and road information functions.
The company is moving to improve a feature on Google Maps that shows stop signs and traffic lights on everyone’s route while they’re navigating.
Google’s new navigation map is due to roll out in select countries in the coming weeks on Android, Android Auto, iOS and CarPlay.