Accountants, especially the early mover types are advising their clients onto cloud applications like Xero, but the question is: are they themselves taking full advantage of the incoming digital disruption? 

Smithink 2020 founding director David Smith talking to AccountantsDaily about digital disruption and the accounting profession says “So the biggest challenge I think is for accounting firms to rethink their own business based on all these developments and be willing to experiment and try different ways of doing things; different ways of engaging with their clients and different services that they can provide. I think many of them are still doing what they’ve always done even though this new technology is there, they’re not leveraging it.”

 Here are 4 ways that might look a bit different to what you are currently doing:

  1. Set up a truly digital workflow that will help virtual engagement. Cloud applications are transforming every process and workflow. It will not be in the distant future when accountants will meet with their clients mostly on high resolution interactive screens. High definition TV steaming through broadband at high quality and consistency will soon make it a preferred option. “I think in the end, people say they’d much rather sit across the desk from somebody but when the clarity and quality of that communication is so good perhaps people will be more comfortable with it and particularly when you get to the next generation, Gen Y etc. they’re going to be even more comfortable again” says David Smith. This ought to convince Accountants to review their current workflows and make the necessary changes that will take advantage of the digital disruption. 
  1. Talent efficiency: It is not only about the cost efficiency of equivalent talent which offshore outsourcing already provided, but the cost efficiency of a broader spectrum of talent that ought to merit consideration in the new scenario. Digital disruption requires more than the traditional approach to talent engagement. Workflow mapping, add on set up and documentation may not exactly be skills bookkeepers and accountants are trained on.  If you are open to look at global talent engagement, there is today the opportunity to virtually apply appropriate talent on digitized workflows at an affordable cost – something that SMEs could not think about earlier. 
  1. Outcome focus: Being mostly virtual with just enough face to face time with clients and a virtual workforce on digitized workflows will force a professional accountant to be sharply outcome focused. Value is tied to outcome and the terms of engagement will increasingly become more and more value based with  clients as well as workforce.  Lean professional services are just around the corner! 
  1. True advisory to the client business: With the above pieces falling in line, the accounting firm can be much better prepared to deliver relevant information bytes to clients, helping them to find what’s happening in their business. Client perception about the accountant as a business advisor who contributes value to the business goes up  favorably for every accountant who organizes his business model to ride the new wave of digital disruption while laggards have to deal with increasing expectations.