2016 is the year that the mobile became supreme. The tipping point came early with the publication of the 2016 Ofcom report into ‘Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes’, which revealed that Smartphones had replaced computers for Internet use and two thirds (65%) of all adults now use their Smartphone to go online.
In today’s mobile world, the Smartphone is the ‘glue’ that binds people and information, businesses and their clients together. A new world is opening up. But where is this new mobile world set to take accountants in 2017?
There can be no doubt that the business world is changing because of the rate of mobile adoption of devices such as Smartphones and Tablets and their use will undoubtedly increase over the next 12 months. These devices are now used for all kinds of business activity: for talking to customers, for raising quotes, creating invoices, capturing receipts and for searching for information, guidance and help that is relevant to their business. A Smartphone or Tablet holds all that’s important to that person, whether its choice of Music App, Sports App or Financial App.
Capturing data digitally
The transformation of the tax system by HMRC to fit the digital age will result in major changes to the way the profession interacts with their clients. The new system is still in the planning stage with a consultation period ending in November 2016. Following that, the time scales for the introduction of the new Making Tax Digital regime will be announced and Business UK will need to adapt to making quarterly returns online.
This change represents a real opportunity for accountants to harness the power of mobile technology and change the way they communicate with their clients. Because businesses will need to electronically record their income and expenses and submit a summary of that information electronically to HMRC, accountants can help make the process simpler by providing a collection point for this data. And the most obvious place to collect and share this data in the new mobile world is via an App.
A custom App quickly becomes the first point of contact for the client and it can also provide on-the-go access to online accounts and to the client’s accounting software of choice including Xero, Kashflow, Sage or Quickbooks etc.
The client submits all the core information required using the App in a way that will help them get used to the process in advance of the introduction of the new regime and smooth the transition.
Mobile is the way forward and accountants will need to be visible on their clients' Smartphones. Whenever the client needs information, the accountant is literally just a tap away – even when the office is closed. Only today, it goes much further than that. The App is not just a symbol of modern thinking; it’s a tool that has a key role to play in reducing the cost of advice and developing new ways to engage consumers. It’s this ease of accessibility that is helping accountants to ‘lock-in’ their clients’ loyalty.
Mobile technology is a tool for business to leverage in a similar way to websites 10 years ago. Apps have now gone mainstream and will continue to grow in popularity in 2017 with Smartphone users spending 90% of their time within an App. With all the evidence pointing to a clear preference for business communication within an App, accountants will need to rethink how they engage with their clients. As it is clients that are driving this change, we predict that 2017 will be the year there is a landslide change in their use.
Author - Joel Oliver is CEO of MyFirmsApp™, the world leader in App and mobile technology in the Professional Service Sector. Download a copy of a new guide ‘A Lighthouse in the Digital Fog’ at http://pages.myfirmsapp.co.uk/lighthouse-in-the-digital-fog/