Practice technology champion Doug Sleeter recently apologised on AccountingWEB.com for helping to make a generation of accountants subservient to desktop computers. This summary offers UK accountants an opportunity to assess its impact on their firms.
Apple and Microsoft nearly destroyed the accounting profession. The PC revolution they started in the 1980s created a generation of “client-centric” software that isolated accountants from the accounting data they need to perform client services.
PC-based accounting software encouraged business owners to do their own bookkeeping and financial statements. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but the end result has been to move the accountant away from being a partner in the business to being a servant who delivers increasingly commoditised.
I have to confess that I was directly implicated in this transition, because for most of my career I have helped businesses learn to make the most of PCs and all its cool, do-it-yourself tools. Sorry for that… With hindsight, I am now coming to realise what that paradigm shift has done to the accounting profession.
Many firms built significant businesses around PC-based client-centric software, but today’s business relationships are dramatically different than just 10 years ago. Today having a website that presents your organisation’s face to the online world and a portal for them to contact you, buy services or products, obtain support and manage their “profile” is standard practice.
Ten years ago, almost none of this was expected, but today it would also be impossible to compete with businesses in any industry if you didn’t have most or all of these services in your business.
We are also seeing a big shift to the cloud and mobile. There are apps for virtually EVERYTHING and multiple options for each category. Mobile devices put mainframe power in our pockets and access to data in the cloud 24/7 from anywhere.
Some accountants are reluctant to embrace these changes, because clients aren’t asking for it. And it’s understandable that older partners are not keen to invest in changes that they may not be around to benefit from.
But if you can “cloudify” your own firm and your client’s business processes, you’ll put yourself in a position to turn back the tide on the PC revolution and reclaim your role as your client’s most trusted advisor.
Doug Sleeter is the founder of The Sleeter Group, part of the Diversified Communications group that organises Accountex. What do you think of his views about the PC and accountancy? If you’d like to find out more about how the cloud and mobile tools can help your practice, come to Accountex at ExCeL in London on 11-12 May.
About Scott Hider
Accountex is the UK's only national exhibition for accountants and finance directors working in practice, business and the public sector. It offers an unparalleled opportunity for financial professionals to gain expert insight and education within a live environment.
Supported by the UK's most important accountancy associations, Accountex delivers over 100 dynamic exhibiting companies, 12 educational seminar theatres, and interactive workshops. It's an invaluable resource for any leading professional in the accounting profession.
The show debuted in November 2012 with 2,776 visitors over two days, earning a place as a finalist for Best Launch Show Of 2012 at the AEO Excellence Awards. Accountex moved to its new regular summer dates in 2013, doubling in size with 30% more exhibitors, speakers and 3,760 visitors, cementing its place as Europe's leading accountancy exhibition.
For more information please contact Scott Hider - Event Director on 0117 9304927 or email [email protected]