The Fourth Industrial Revolution is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, AI, quantum computing, 3D printing, bio technology & the internet of things.
Klaus Schwab founder of the World Economic Forum Davos puts it this way; “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work & relate to one another”. As the world we live and work in becomes more digitalized, the ways in which accountants and their clients can connect, collaborate, communicate and collect information are being reshaped. This creates potential for automation, innovation and disruption. For us as accountants, the journey towards digital and growing cloud adoption is the mother trend of all changes… and going digital is not a choice.
Automation Innovation and Now Disruption
All three are an inescapable part of our professional world and all three can only grow and keep on growing.
Automation in the context of this article is broadly speaking the use of software and cloud solutions to automate accounting processes that were once manually intensive or required significant human effort. Even those businesses who have in the past done little management accounting can now produce all the data they need using online software. Once manually intensive work is now easy for us to produce at the touch of a button or with a few simple commands
Innovation is where technology is applied in new and creative ways to change the way things are done so that new outcomes can be achieved new and better experiences can be delivered for clients
Disruption is where these two changes make such an impact that we can no longer ignore them. The changes made and the rate of those changes simply demand a response. Disruption is different to change. With change it is possible for an accountant to shrug his or her shoulders and ignore the impact. Accepting that; ‘this will make some kind of difference’ but conclude ‘I am really not concerned enough or ready to do something about it’. Change allows me the choice, do I respond? or when I might be active enough to change? Disruption is not like that, disruption demands that we look at the change and respond to the change otherwise there are consequences and those consequences can be serious.
Technology is disrupting the traditional relationship between firm and client by enabling non- accountants to become the first port of call for queries on accounts, finance and tax. Clients and prospects already use Google to find answers to questions they would once have asked you.
“Digital disruption is now a fact. Successful accountants will have to take action and that means embracing the new digital and mobile first world.” Tony Margaritelli Chairman, ICPA
Disruption The Facts
First let’s check the facts – the relentless rise of Mobile in the profession; is it myth or reality?
Take a look at the four research charts below.
With mobile screens overtaking desktops for the first time in history at the end of 2016, little wonder that Gary Turner of Xero said recently; ‘The home screen of a client’s Smartphone is Prime Time Real Estate’
Daniel Priestley describes the home screen of a client’s mobile as ‘The most sought after piece of real estate in the world.’ And it’s easy to see why. AppAnnie suggests that mobile is now the ‘First Screen’ the place where clients and potential new clients turn to first.
The question to be asked and ultimately answered is, ‘where does your client turn to first?’ So like it or not, mobile engagement is a relentlessly rising fact in our client’s world. They all own one or more mobile devices, they all use one or more mobile devices, and all have had their expectations shaped by one.
Connecting Where The Action Is – The Good News
The technologies that are creating such problems can also solve them. Mobile Apps are easily accessible and can be launched faster and more cost effectively than the mobile web. They can also keep users more engaged and build brand loyalty, because they can support a more immersive experience than the mobile web, by providing users with greater functionality, integration, simplicity and utility.
Armed with its own custom App, your firm can strengthen its bond with clients and reduce attrition, by being more proactive, modernising engagement and client services, maintaining your relevance, and differentiating your rm.
Having an icon for your Firm’s App immediately visible when clients open their smartphones or tablets, will reinforce your position as the most trusted advisor in various ways. Rather than adding to the complexity and confusion created by proliferating ‘best of breed’ Apps, your firm’s App can simplify and streamline access, by bringing together in one easily accessible place, all your client’s accounts, finance, tax rates, calculations and systems.
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