Robots, automation and artificial intelligence are no longer part of the Hollywood movie special effects kitbag – in 2016 Oxford University released report results which showed 57 percent of jobs across the OECD would be impacted, or be at risk of automation.
It’s not just the factory production lines under threat – professional services with high levels of human capital need to prepare for change too. For some time now we have heard the delivery method for traditional accounting has changed and a new business model is needed. However how do you build a modern accounting firm and transform its offerings, especially when it comes to the move away from compliance to advisory?
One step we believe will help is the move towards a cloud-based practice. Building a cloud-based business can be seen as an elegant solution for a service driven world – open collaboration with clients and a system that puts clients at the core. With a cloud-based practice it is easier to train a lens on clients and their data. Cloud ecosystems can pool together packets of data to identify a correct treatment, process, income stream, or piece of advice that matters most to the client’s business.
Cloud and Automation Go Hand in Hand
For Australian public practice accountants, there is an opportunity to make the most of the cloud and incorporate automation into a more sophisticated client relationship. After all this is what client’s want, no more transactional once a year tax return-type visits with their number one advisor. Instead automation and the benefits of artificial intelligence can create a deeper and broader relationship between accountant and client.
So how does the spectre of “The Rise of the Machines” impact today’s accountant? Will artificial intelligence automate us all out a job? The answer here is both no – and yes. For the accounting firms that will harness the automation benefits of artificial intelligence found in professional software solutions, they will be the front runners of a new type of accounting advisory service. For these savvy business owners, artificial intelligence will find the tax-related events, curate the relevance of these events and outline the potential impact – and match to a likely type of client that will be impacted by the event. More client-focused communications which can be tailored are now available at the touch of a button.
Solving the overwhelming compliance process
The big issue for professional accountants today is to solve how to keep across what is going on. The cloud favours no-one. Anyone can tap into the same information with the tools and the access that are widely available today. The key is to grab this information that can benefit a firm and demonstrate to clients how to add value by sharing the information. The last thing you want to see for your firm is a future where clients learn how to do it themselves.
We do believe the transformation of the ‘typical Aussie’ practice will continue to see the cloud and higher levels of self service and automation with clients become more common. For many clients and firms fixed price cost agreements are not the priority, instead being more involved in correctly setting clients up in the cloud for bookkeeping, business intelligence solutions and any other business-related software solution that will help their business is going to be of paramount importance. Predictive accounting lets firms check in frequently with clients and help keep them on track.
For the practice owners that do not see the value of the cloud, nor see the benefits automation and artificial intelligence may deliver may be out of a job. But not because of a Terminator-style robot taking over their duties – something more alone the lines of clients switching to a system that offers advice and consulting on complex, challenging issues.
Make sure your firm is prepared to build a deeper and more successful relationship with your clients before the robots do.
Krista Moore | Director, Marketing and Communications, APAC, Wolters Kluwer | www.wolterskluwer.com
With two decades’ experience in transformational technologies, Krista today leads a team of marketing professionals charged with empowering accounting firms to maximise technology and business outcomes.