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Digital transformation through the lens of an accountancy firm

Two technology start-ups in the accounting world recently invited our Business Consultant to talk about digital transformation at their events. In this blogpost you will learn what digital transformation specifically means to an accountancy firm.

Digital transformation through an accounting lens

Two established technology startups in the world of accounting, Yuki and Silverfin, invited me to one of their events to talk about digital transformation.

Five core principles of transformation

If you want to cope with the digitization wave and if you want to transform into a company that thrives in a constantly changing would, these are the five core principles that you should put into practice. The perfect example of a digital transformation kick start in the world of accounting firms? Yuki and Silverfin.

1. Increased transparency

Transparency creates trust, which is a basic requirement if you want to do business. Whether you like it or not, you will be forced by the outside world to make your company transparent. TripAdvisor, for example, ensures that tourist traps no longer get away with lousy service at excessive prices.

Yuki and Silverfin enable accounting offices to increase their transparency and as a consequence also increase their service level exponentially because entrepreneurs can monitor their accounting and reporting in real-time with these accounting products.

Someone in the audience even explained that he recently had to dismiss his accountants because the office was not able to offer him the transparency that he wanted.

2. Breaking up the value chain

Digitization forces companies to reevaluate their value chain. Invoice processing is highly automated (up to 88% in some cases) thanks to machine learning. Automatic reporting in turn ensures that more time becomes available for what really matters: advice to the entrepreneur.

And this, in its turn, allows for a change in the traditional business model. Because, if a machine processes the invoices, billing this work on an hourly basis would be kind of bizarre, wouldn’t it?

What an office charges will be more proportional to the real value delivered, something the sector can only benefit from (and which will also provide higher margins than the current arms race of hourly rates).

3. Agility

Increasing digitization facilitates the agility of companies but at the same time also forces them to be agile. Customers are increasingly demanding (as you have already noticed!). Open platforms provide endless opportunities (in terms of integration, but also in terms of tailored services).

These platforms mark the end of planning for an unpredictable future and dependence on the goodwill of one single supplier. The use of open platforms allows us to adapt quickly to constantly changing circumstances.

Agility allows for the rapid development of new personalized services, which in addition create new competitive advantages that are difficult to replicate.

4.Seamless service delivery

Customers always expect the same level of service regardless of time, place and medium. An entrepreneur is no different: he wants to be able to reach his accountant day AND night. During the day to discuss some strategic decisions, in the evening to discuss the latest figures.

5. Digital first

Embracing digitization also means that companies start to think ‘digital-first’ while they are developing new services and products. Off-line is complementary to on-line.

Do this the other way around and you will not only make it needlessly complex, it will also be too slow and expensive. Platforms like Yuki and Silverfin allow firms to quickly develop new (digital) services and to start adopting a digital-first perspective.

An existential issue

Digitisation is a massive erosion of competitive advantages such as location and access to knowledge and information. (Which is merely reinforced by the product offer of players like Yuki and SilverFin.)

This evolution is forcing accounting firms to take a look at the same question that every company investing in digital transformation encounters: what makes us valuable to our customers, our employees, ourselves?

Where is your grandeur?

Those who believe in digital transformation must first of all be prepared to answer an existential question and they need to start looking for what it is that makes them great.

Once these answers are found, the journey to a truly digitally transformed organization becomes a lot easier.

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