Have you ever seen what happens to a 20 year old when they lose their smartphone? It’s the end of the world! The current generation that has grown up with the internet has an expectation that they will always be connected. They want instant access to the information they need and to be able to connect with people important to them whenever they like, regardless of geographical location. While we older people have been critical of this reliance on technology, it is in fact a very efficient way to live. Generation Y spends less time finding the information they need and exchanging ideas with their peers. It may not seem like it since they seem to be perpetually communicating but that is a result of a much higher level of communication than what has occurred in the past.
What I find interesting is that the rest of us are following in the footsteps of these youngsters as smartphones, tablets and the internet enable us to be more efficient and more informed in our lives. For accountants, we are seeing a transformation in how firms are connecting with their clients. Exchanging information is becoming a thing of the past in some firms. Today it is about sharing information. The rise of cloud based accounting applications is enabling accountants and their clients to collaborate with ease. Accountants and their clients are discovering ways to be more efficient in both day to day bookkeeping, and the completion of the year end accounts. Some tasks, such as invoicing, are more efficiently performed by the client. Accountants are more efficient at other tasks such as adjusting journals where greater accounting knowledge is required. This sharing of information also enables the elimination of time consuming tasks such as the need to move data backwards and forwards with the client and to keep the data synchronised.
This is, however, just the beginning. This greater efficiency has not only saved time, but it is also enabling savvy accountants to transform their client relationships. Having shared access to the client’s accounting information gives them the ability to analyse the performance of a business in real time rather than historically. This increases the value of advice, since the client can make adjustments to their business in real time, not retrospectively
A mindset change is the key to maximising the benefits from technology. Are we reviewing the client’s results more regularly? Are we communicating with clients more effectively and giving them valuable insights into their business so that they are continuing to improve their business performance? If we do I am sure that clients will perceive that they are receiving greater value from their relationship with their accountant.
The technology exists. What is now needed is for it to be embraced by accountants and their clients. Once this happens it will be like the 20 year olds – we will wonder how we ever lived without it.
To learn more about these transforming technologies mark your diary for MYOB’s ‘Connected Accountant 2012’ National Road Show. It’s coming to capital cities and some regional areas in February and March, and will preview a new era of solutions that seamlessly connect your practice, your clients and your business networks. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you there!