Article provided by Boomer Technology Circle™ and Producer Circle™ sponsoring partner Expensify. This post is part two of Expensify’s “Startup lessons for accountants,” a three-part series on how firms can take a page from the startup battle book and rise in the accounting ranks — no Nerf guns required.
A Tech Revolution
Throughout history, economic and cultural shifts have undeniably shaped the way businesses operate by introducing opportunities for new models of thinking. In the past, these changes have acted as a checkpoint for businesses, offering them a chance to adapt to trends or deepen their original objectives. For example, in the recent environmental movement, some businesses enthusiastically repositioned themselves while others abstained from eco-trends.
In some ways, technology’s impact on organizations is no different from other business “revolutions”. However, we’re currently in the early stages of a tech revolution and unlike business shifts in the past, technology is transforming the world at an unparalleled pace. This means that while other revolutions offered a choice, today’s tech revolution is inescapable. In other words, the new order of technology in businesses is here to stay, and firms can choose to quickly adapt to new business opportunities, or fail in obsolescence.
At the center of all this innovation and change, startups stand out as an example for companies everywhere. Not only are startups technologically advanced, they also serve as a great example of what it means to adapt to a changing environment. What lessons do startups offer accounting firms when it comes to being agile in a technologically advanced world?
Tech in startups
It’s not a bold statement to claim that startups have a tech advantage. However, great startups are not only willing to adopt tech, but adapt it to their advantage. After all, successful startups understand that there is no avoiding the digital age. Instead, startups that are capable of adapting an agile mindset for creative solutions are most successful.
Take for example, the goal of better customer service. Reluctant adopters and those not willing to find creative solutions may see technology as a way to organize customers or quickly reduce tedious work. While that’s certainly true, successful startups are more likely to take it one step further. They can take advantage of technology by personalizing customer engagement or preemptively responding to issues. This means that startups that have embraced technology benefit beyond the tasks at hand, but also by following a creative route to meet business goals.
Tech in accounting
While all sectors must adjust to the changes of the digital revolution, the shift is uniquely challenging for accounting firms. Historically, accounting firms have been hesitant to adopt new technology. As other sectors casually explored new technology around them accounting firms stayed dangerously behind on the tech curve. There’s now been an increasing trend for accounting firms to implement new software, but it is not enough. Even with an occasional update, most accounting businesses are not actively seeking or learning about new technology.
It’s understandable that accountants respond with reluctance. After all, legacy accounting systems are deeply rooted within each firm and even software as simple as automating expenses requires setup time — time that accountants don’t necessarily have. On top of that, there’s the fear that new systems will have a high learning curve or won’t work as expected.
The truth is, these are all very real concerns. However, ignoring the digital age won’t stop it from affecting your business. There’s no denying that integrating new technology is daunting. Fortunately, even taking into account the time and effort of a system upheaval, your firm can still come out ahead. Again and again, studies across all sectors have shown that companies that invest in new technologies are more profitable than their competitors. For all companies, this is a serendipitous encouragement.
For firms that are still hesitant to adopt change, it’s important to remember that the advancements in tech are not just a passing trend. There is no “deadline” to updating old software. There is no date that companies should “start” engaging in the digital age. In other words, the time to begin is now. Firms must shift their mindset to become curious about technology, invest in alternative approaches, and most importantly, be active in staying on top of research. Otherwise, reluctant accountants may one day find themselves completely obsolete.
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