The key outcome for a business undergoing digital transformation can be a big jump in productivity. At the cutting edge is where competitive advantage lies, and leading companies in the technology space are having a big influence on the accounting sector.
Tasks become easier or faster to do - for example, there are apps (like Debtor Daddy) just to reduce your number of debtor days. People need to revisit their business models and look at the efficiencies they can gain. This has an immediate impact on accountants as businesses respond ‘smarter and faster’.
At the recent Smithink ATSA event, the following trends for accounting firms became evident:
- An increased takeup of software for business advisory, and to broaden the services offering.
- Advisory is providing new areas of revenue.
- Forecasting and KPIs for businesses are in high demand, using tools like Spotlight and Crunchboards.
- A greater need for practice management designed with internet in mind, for example electronic signatures.
- Recognition that business is getting more complicated, and there's not a 'one size fits all' solution.
Adoption of cloud technology
The big sea change is consolidation, and Australia is leading the world in its adoption of cloud technology. Even the ‘big firms’ are embracing disruption and playing in this cloud space, building relationships with business owners and entrepreneurs early on. Running an entire firm in the cloud - for example, running a Xero practice - is highly effective and efficient. Are we still restricted due to our reliance on desktop? In some ways we’re at a tipping point, where a cloud program can do what desktop does, but better.
How about compliance? The ATO is working on automating data entry side, with pre-fill for data entry type work and the goal of reducing time to do a tax return.
Is this a 'stake in the heart' for accounting firms?
Businesses will still need to know what the best way to pay the least amount of tax is, and will pay for expertise. The fixed price or value pricing model potentially increases your profit margin, while providing an incentive for the firm to be more efficient. Moving to a fixed fee model is good both for the firm, and for the client.
Events like ATSA are an opportunity to ask questions, like: “where is it all going?” Take a look at Xero’s market place - people are emerging with new ideas, and changes are happening constantly with different visions of the future for the roles accountants will play.
It’s important to understand the effects of disruption on the accounting industry, so take opportunities to get involved. Schedule in some industry events for the year ahead - like ATSA - and be part of the conversation.