Accountants who want to succeed in a competitive market need to develop a clear digital strategy and embrace the latest technology.
Used effectively, technology can ease your workload, improve customer experience, increase your public profile, and win new clients.
Some industries have been majorly disrupted by technology in recent years, whereas accountancy has managed to escape being hit by a tsunami of digitisation.
However, the next wave of technology is going to impact accountants. If you want to swim rather than sink, start preparing to navigate the inevitable challenges that will ensue.
As Charles Darwin famously stated: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
Some accounting firms are struggling to move to fully digital operations, especially using cloud software.
Many companies have a range of software that was acquired over the years and as a result there are common problems with the accounting and financial systems in use today.
The data within these financial systems is often defined differently in each system; this can lead to poor performance such as delays before a transfer of data begins.
This is problematic for accountants and business-owners today because there are large volumes of data available for review.
The solution lies in cloud-based accounting software and mobile services which can be used to improve operations and enhance your client’s overall satisfaction with your services.
There is increasing demand for real-time data so that decisions can be made quickly using the most recent and accurate information available.
For example, the latest accounting technology and software is necessary for operational executives who want to include big data sources in financial plans, budgets and forecasts.
This means the ability to deliver business processes digitally will be a key differentiator for firms in the coming years.
Digital firms have a different set of metrics and measures; they can monitor costs and analyse customer acquisition rates more effectively.
Is your firm staffed with the right people, skills and tools for the digital age? If you transition your firm to the cloud, it will help to differentiate you to your existing and new clients.
Using the cloud also helps to streamline your internal business operations and improve your profitability. In addition, you can offer your clients more convenience and transparency.
If you want to remain relevant, you can also start researching digital products that will suit the needs of your clients.
You will add value to your services if you educate yourself about software that clients can use themselves.
Bear in mind that it takes time to build trust in technology and that trust is based on familiarity and performance.
According to a Trust in Technology report by HSBC, “the majority (80%) of respondents believe technology makes their life easier and that 76% feel comfortable using new tech.
The survey of the public appetite for new technology for managing their financial affairs looked at 11 major international markets.
It revealed that a lack of understanding of technologies such as blockchain and finance programmes over social media causes wariness in consumers.
It will pay dividends if you inform your clients about the different options available, especially in relation to the move to digital tax.
According to Kirton’s adaption-innovative theory (1976), adaptors desire to do things better, innovators desire to do things differently.
By devising and implementing an excellent digital strategy, you can be both an adaptor and an innovator.
- Tamara O'Connell