You've 'gone digital' but has your culture?

18th Dec 2019
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Accountancy Manager
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With the speed of digital evolution, ever-changing customer demands and a widening skills gap - simply adopting technology solutions is not enough. Digital capability is constantly changing behaviours in work and life - and it’s not slowing down. In order to innovate and thrive, organisations need to build highly adaptable, people-focused digital cultures.

So, what is culture? It’s not your mission statement, Friday’s after-work drinks, or even your carefully selected ‘values’. It’s real results that come from shared methods and mindsets across your business. At a deeper level it’s each person’s purpose, attitude and way of thinking. 

‘[Culture is] the unwritten values and rules and the assumptions people make about what they need to do to get work done’ - Tony Colon: The First Step to a Digital Culture, Forbes, 2018

As such, digital culture goes way beyond the technology you use - and even how you use it. It’s the hundreds of small ways you collectively approach work every day. The shared purpose behind each action, everyone’s attitude to opportunities and risk, and how you think when you solve problems. 

The methods and mindsets of a digital culture

Putting the customer at the heart of every decision 

This one should be embedded in your culture anyway! Beyond the obvious reasons for delivering on customer needs, solving real customer problems is where innovation comes from. 

Working together in the most effective and efficient way

Embrace collective knowledge and connect people in cross-functional teams. This is more than just fast communication and feedback loops, it’s knowing who to collaborate with, when and how.

An eagerness to experiment, test and continually improve 

Foster an environment where risks and mistakes are allowed. Unless you try, you can’t move forward. Experimentation fuels innovation. 

Adaptability and responsiveness 

Your ability to adapt to change at speed comes down to attitude, knowledge and skills (practical and soft). With this new ‘digital’ way of thinking more people will be on the lookout for new ways to connect with customers, improve your offering, promote your business and optimise operations.

Accountants - the next digital innovators?

This year, the shift to digital has gained significant momentum in the accountancy industry. With Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT arriving in April, attention is now turning to Self Assessments. 

In a current HMRC pilot, individuals or their accountants send regular updates - instead of an annual Self Assessment. All records must be kept digitally, in a system which can automatically transfer data to HMRC - or connect to one that can.

The recent HMRC digitalisation in accountancy is an excellent use case to follow for other businesses gearing up for digital transformation. Watch this space.

This has led to huge numbers of accountancy practices and their clients exploring their software options. With new systems to navigate and more submission deadlines, businesses and the self-employed are expected to turn to accountants in their droves. But not any accountants, only those that are MTD-compliant and offer quick and easy ways to record, update and submit data online. 

The digital era is here to stay. Resistance is futile.

More than futile, resistance - or even a slow response - risks the future of your business. Even if your shift to digital isn’t mandated by a ‘higher power’, a more digital culture has overwhelming benefits that are impossible to ignore. 

But remember, it’s not just about the digital solutions themselves, it’s about people. Customers, colleagues and your talent pool - everyone.