The dream of AI is of course that you ask “ what invoices are overdue” and it tells you, you then ask it to chase them up, and it sends out emails and resends invoices to stressed accounts people who promptly send money they owed.
In fact the dream of an AI is that this happens automatically, and it says “none”
The dream of AI is that the account payables are a robot that does this stuff perfectly and automatically for companies.
But we could today of course just open a spreadsheet showing the status of all invoices, it may remind us to connect with people who we could do more business with, it may remind us that a project had a follow up phase planned, it may be knowing more information, in context and in visual form may be more helpful. Not faster, but as fast as required, and with extra benefit.
In all cases the plumbing is needed.
For an AI to know the status of accounts in arrears it needs to pull upon a database, thats updated accurately and frequently, ideally in real time. The same document we could have glanced at.
To make this spreadsheet or database, this probably requires a human to scan bank accounts and know invoices sent, and the due by date, the date of invoice, and the scopes of work, and whats been done and to know the PO numbers raised and the amount agreed to from a contract, and your TRN number, and the address of the company, and who is dealing with it, and their details.
In theory a semi decent AI could do this quite well, but they’d need to pull from lots of databases, have permission to access things, be “accepted” by the bank, have the right permissions, legal may get scared. And if they made a single error, the system would be shut down for months to figure out why.
See the issues in business are rarely UX problems, they are back end things, the boring plumbing that the world is built on, the foundations of a prior world where banks have sort codes or SWIFT numbers, and or routing numbers and account numbers and addresses and all manner of things we’d not make today.
(A bank account today would probably be three words, a bit like What3Words makes for addresses, “Send the payment to “Fox Spy Idea” would be nice)
In the same way a robot can now lay bricks or Google can now emulate phone calls, we do have to wonder if maybe we should use technology to rethink the world.
So a better question with AI is really what systems would we make today knowing we have AI, but also knowing we’ve secure data exchange software, we’ve digital banking, we’ve databases that can talk to each other.
What we’d probably make is a SINGLE secure database that houses ALL our information, and we’d let companies, institutions, governments, retailers, accountants, all pull data when they needed, subject to us giving access.
Contracts would be tied to scopes of work, deliverables would be placed as fields of data in a database, perhaps money committed held in escrow, we’d probably forget PO numbers, and funds would be released based on humans accepting tranches of work.
Thats the thing about AI, as a usability patch on a legacy system it seems magical but unhelpful, what we probably need to do is build better systems for the modern age from the ground up, with automation as a possibility, the safeguards it needs, and the new workflows it allows, but thats a much harder topic than simply say “ check this out”