Technology & Innovation

Sage Transform 2024: Top generative AI takeaways to elevate your business 

Discover our top takeaways from Sage Transform 2024 and learn how you can incorporate AI to take your business to the next level.

Finance leaders naturally seek the next big breakthrough to redefine efficiency, accuracy, and strategic foresight.  

Sage Transform 2024 was a three-day event held at the end of February 2024 in Las Vegas that brought the Sage Intacct community together to share insights and information. 

This year, Sage Transform was pivotal for a finance professional or leader eager to use technology such as Sage Ai and Sage Copilot to elevate their business game.  

Your financial future is not just about adapting to change—it’s about leading it.  

In this article, we unpack important insights and announcements from Las Vegas, and what they mean for you.

Here’s what we cover:

Sage Ai

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What is continuous accounting and why does it matter? 

In his tech-focused keynote, Sage CTO Aaron Harris explained the value of continuous accounting, which represents the evolution from periodic financial reporting to an ongoing, real-time process. 

Continuous accounting uses artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to integrate financial recording and analysis into daily operations.

This ensures financial data is always current and actionable. 

For finance professionals, this offers several advantages: 

  • Enhanced decision-making: Access to real-time financial data enables better-informed and timely decisions, which is critical in today’s fast-paced business environment. 
  • Increased efficiency: Automation reduces manual tasks, allowing finance teams to focus on strategic activities and analysis. 
  • Improved accuracy and compliance: Continuous monitoring and AI-driven anomaly detection help to maintain accuracy and ensure compliance with financial regulations. 

By moving to continuous accounting, finance leaders can steer businesses with greater agility and foresight.  

Aaron presented his vision for continuous accounting: “For centuries, accountants have been tethered to cycles like the monthly close, annual audits, and quarterly tax filings, offering only snapshots of financial health at specific times.  

“Our vision transcends these traditional boundaries, freeing accountants to focus on the future and deliver continuous strategic value.  

“We achieve this through a harmonious blend of continuous accounting, assurance, and insights.  

“By capturing and accounting for business activity in real time, using AI for continuous monitoring and assurance, and providing predictive insights, we ensure data accuracy and trustworthiness, empowering decision-makers to act swiftly and confidently.” 

Continuous accounting and generative AI 

Continuous accounting aligns with the capabilities of generative AI technologies, a focus we will strategically amplify via a collaboration we announced at Transform with Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

This partnership heralds the launch of the first domain-specific accounting Large Language Model (LLM).  

With the support of AWS, Sage is developing a specialized LLM for accounting and compliance using Amazon Bedrock and Amazon Lex.  

This initiative could radically change how businesses manage accounting and compliance, making processes more efficient and integrated.  

The domain-specific LLM, which will initially power the new Sage AI-powered productivity assistant, Sage Copilot, promises to process and analyze vast amounts of data swiftly, underscoring synergy between continuous accounting practices and generative AI’s potential. 

Learn more about the importance of domain-specific generative AI tools. 

Aaron said of the work Sage is doing with generative AI: “What are we doing with generative AI to make everything better? There are two simple things.” 

1. Generative AI will streamline accounting across your business 

Aaron said: “Generative AI lets us reach everybody else in the company with accounting.  

It means people like me don’t have to log into an accounting product to approve a purchase order. We don’t have to log into accounting to determine if I have enough budget to hire my next head count.  

“This is huge. It’s going to reduce a lot of the burden on your team, but it’s also going to speed up the workflows that depend on other employees.” 

2. Generative AI will empower workflows beyond simple tasks to complete process ownership 

Aaron said: “The second thing we’re doing is the real magic behind large language models, where we’re taking their understanding, their ability to write code, to understand complex instructions, and giving Sage Ai the ability not just to do simple tasks, but to own entire workflows.” 

Together, continuous accounting, powered by generative AI, could unlock opportunities for finance teams to respond to business dynamics in real time and anticipate future trends with greater accuracy and confidence.  

Continuous accounting is a foundational framework for generative AI to apply predictive models, automation capabilities, and insights. 

We’re heading to a future where financial strategy and execution are so seamlessly integrated that it could transform how you drive your business toward sustainable growth. 

Sage Copilot

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The generative AI revolution in finance is here 

In another keynote, Sage CEO Steve Hare introduced Sage Copilot, a generative AI-powered assistant working within the Sage Business Cloud that could become your indispensable financial ally. 

What is Sage Copilot and what could it mean for you? 

Sage Copilot is a comprehensive, AI-powered productivity assistant tailored to the intricate needs of finance.

Here’s a snapshot of what Sage Copilot can do and why it can work for you: 

  • It uses generative intelligence: Sage Copilot uses generative AI. This means it can produce predictive models, automate complex tasks, and even generate financial narratives or reports, all from scratch and tailored to your business context. 
  • It can automate tasks: Sage Copilot can help you handle everything from data entry to complex financial reconciliations, freeing up time for you to focus on analysis and strategy. 
  • It supplies proactive insights: Equipped with machine learning algorithms, Sage Copilot can analyze trends, predict outcomes, and offer actionable insight to help navigate your finances and drive business performance. 
  • It uses natural language processing: With advanced NLP capabilities, Sage Copilot can understand and execute commands you give it in everyday language, making interactions intuitive and efficient. 
  • Seamless integration: Sage Copilot is designed to integrate with your existing Sage Business Cloud as part of a unified platform that enhances current workflows without the need for disruptive overhauls. 
  • Secure and compliant: Recognizing the paramount importance of data security and regulatory compliance in finance, Sage Copilot is built with robust encryption and adherence to the latest compliance standards. 

Demonstrating Copilot for Sage Intacct 

At Transform, we were given a firsthand look at the transformative capabilities of Sage Copilot for Sage Intacct with a live demonstration, showing how continuous accounting turns from concept into tangible reality. 

The demo showed how this AI-powered assistant could change the way your financial tasks and workflows are managed, proving its worth beyond just automation to becoming an integral part of your daily operations. 

Sage CTO Aaron Harris took the audience through several scenarios where you would use Sage Copilot for Intacct. 

Aaron showed how Sage Copilot can: 

  • Provide proactive notifications upon logging into Sage Intacct, highlighting its active role in financial management. 
  • Offer autonomy and precision, transforming the traditional tasks of processing invoices and chasing approvals. 
  • Ensure invoices are processed and approved efficiently, even in scenarios requiring human intervention. 
  • Simplify employee tasks, enhancing workflow efficiency and ensuring financial decisions are informed by the latest data. 
  • Integrate seamlessly with the Sage network, enabling direct communication with customers and vendors to manage cash flow concerns proactively. 
  • Shift accounting practices towards a more predictive approach due to AI elevating efficiency and strategic financial planning. 

The real power of Sage Copilot won’t be simply doing individual tasks—it’ll be owning entire workflows.  

It’s about making every part of the financial process more efficient, from closing the books to managing cash flow, all in real-time. 

How to prepare for generative AI in finance 

Sage Copilot is a domain-specific generative AI financial accounting tool.

Consider the following preparatory steps to make the most of this technology. 

Identify key performance indicators (KPIs)

Determine which KPIs are most critical to your business success and consider how Sage Copilot AI-driven analytics could enhance your tracking and reporting. 

Review and refine processes

Look at your existing financial processes and identify areas where AI can provide strategic enhancements or efficiency gains.

Consider which financial operations could benefit most from automation and predictive analytics. 

Strategically plan for AI integration

Conceptualize a plan for how you will integrate AI into your current financial strategies.

Think about how AI can help you achieve long-term business goals and what changes you might need to implement to take full advantage of Sage Copilot capabilities. 

Engage stakeholders

Start discussions with key stakeholders about the potential impact of AI on your financial operations.

Gather input on where they see AI’s greatest value and potential to support decision-making. 

Stay informed and engaged

Keep up to date with the latest developments regarding Sage Copilot by engaging with the Sage community, reading Sage Advice, and subscribing to Sage Copilot updates.

This ensures you have the most current information and can plan accordingly. 

Streamline operations with AI-infused tools 

Transform’s 2024 Sage Intacct keynote highlighted how the fusion of Sage Intacct with AI capabilities is not just a leap forward—it’s a redefinition of operational efficiency.  

For financial professionals, you have a fantastic opportunity to enhance your operations and strategic influence.  

How you can maximize productivity with AI automation 

Sage Ai within Sage Intacct, in the form of features such as GL outlier detection and AP automation, is engineered to streamline your financial operations dramatically.  

Let’s explain what they are and how they can help you with financial management. 

AP automation (Accounts payable automation) 

What is it? 

AP automation is where you can streamline and automate accounts payable processes, removing the manual tasks associated with processing invoices and making payments.  

This includes capturing invoice data, matching invoices to purchase orders and receipts, approving invoices, and executing payments. 

How does AP automation work? 

In Sage Intacct, AP automation uses AI and machine learning (ML) to recognize and process invoices automatically.  

When an invoice is uploaded to the system, AI algorithms extract vital data points such as vendor details, amounts, and due dates.  

The system then matches this invoice against existing purchase orders and receipt confirmations, flags any discrepancies for review, and routes the invoice for approval based on predefined rules. 

This helps you with: 

  • Efficiency: Manual data entry and invoice processing are significantly reduced, freeing up your time. 
  • Accuracy: Reduce the likelihood of errors in invoice processing, ensuring payments are accurate and on time. 
  • Cost savings: Automate the AP process for direct cost savings by reducing the need for manual intervention, with the potential for you to offer early payment discounts. 
  • Strategic focus: With the AP process streamlined, you can allocate more time to strategic analysis and advisory tasks, adding value beyond transactional financial management. 

GL outlier detection (General Ledger outlier detection) 

What is it? 

GL outlier detection is a feature that uses AI to monitor transactions recorded in the general ledger for anomalies or irregularities that deviate from standard patterns.  

This tool is handy for identifying errors, fraud, or unusual transactions that require further investigation. 

How does outlier detection work? 

By analyzing historical transaction data, the system learns what constitutes ‘normal’ activity for a business.  

It then continuously monitors new transactions, flagging those outside these established patterns.  

You will be alerted to these outliers, which you can review to determine if they are errors, legitimate but unusual transactions, or potential fraud indicators. 

This helps you with: 

  • Risk mitigation: Early detection of anomalies helps mitigate risks related to errors and fraud. 
  • Time savings: Automate the tedious process of manually reviewing transactions for irregularities. 
  • Improved accuracy: Enhance the reliability of financial reporting by ensuring only valid transactions are recorded. 
  • Proactive management: Allow your finance team to proactively manage exceptions, maintaining the integrity of the financial data. 

How you can make the most of Sage Intacct AI automation capabilities 

Conduct an AI-readiness audit 

Assess your current technology stack and processes to ensure it is AI-ready.

This might include updating legacy systems. 

Redefine roles and responsibilities 

As operational tasks become automated, redefine the roles within your finance team.

Encourage a shift towards strategic thinking, data interpretation, and decision support—areas where human insight is irreplaceable. 

Establish a culture of continuous learning 

Foster a culture where continuous learning is encouraged and staying updated on AI trends and tools is part of your team’s professional development. 

Prepare for the data-driven future 

Position your team to take full advantage of AI’s insights.

This means being ready to interpret and act on the intelligence and predictive analytics that Sage Intacct AI tools will deliver. 

Final thoughts: An AI-driven financial future 

Sage Transform 2024 revealed that integrating AI into financial systems is no longer a distant future—it’s your immediate next step.  

The journey with specialist financial AI—exemplified by innovations such as Sage Copilot and Sage Intacct with AI and automation functionalities—offers you a unique opportunity to become an architect of strategic influence and a pioneer of sustainable growth.