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Deloitte research has shown that businesses who embrace digital tools are 50% more likely to grow revenue, eight times more likely to create jobs and seven times more likely to scale.
For accountants, not only is this true, but it can also help free up more time for advisory.
As was discussed on a AFAANZ panel we hosted last week, digitisation can help accountants reduce four days of crunch and analysis to one day, allowing for more time with clients and intuitive storytelling around their numbers.
But only good digitisation can truly achieve this.
The truth is, 3 in 5 businesses across Australia and New Zealand (including accounting practices) are in fact experiencing bad digitisation, according to our research. Their business software tools are in fact hindering them, not helping and it is costing them in time, money and productivity.
Exactly the opposite desired effect of good digitisation.
Bad digitisation is where various software tools do not properly integrate with each other – instead of working in unison, they run in silos. Businesses and practices have seemingly accepted that this is ‘just the way things are’ and a ‘normal part of doing business these days’. Despite their ambition, they’re being held back.
Creating only good digitisation
As a software provider, we recognise the need for us and the rest of our industry to address this head on – and pronto.
We need to ensure we’re all providing deeply integrated and seamless experiences across the important business processes. In short, we need to create only good digitisation. Where apps work in unison with no glitches, where data is transferred across systems accurately and without delay, where the work just happens and the tech almost goes unnoticed.
Here’s an everyday example of good digitisation. Take your Apple TV – its integrated apps such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Disney+ allow you to tailor your experience based on what you have previously watched, and even uses this watching history data to suggest content for you across the other applications. That’s deep integration providing a seamless user experience.
For a real-life business example, I quote Loucas Kyriacou of ALK Financial Group, who noted on our recent panel: “when digitisation works properly and data is accurate and consistent across business systems, things like cost overruns can be spotted quickly, allowing the accountant or business to act or adapt early”.
What does all this mean for accountants?
It is so important accountants have access to a full and accurate picture of their clients’ business data to work with them on making informed decisions. If their business tools are not synced, you are likely working with only a partial view of business performance. Their disconnection issue becomes your problem too.
Furthermore, given clients often regard you as a form of business advisor, it is important to be aware of the different tools available to support small business needs, and crucially which integrate properly work with their existing software.
This is especially true for the next generation of accountants. As Mr Kyriacou noted, “having a solid understanding of how to use business software tools can be really powerful”. If those entering the profession can demonstrate a solid knowledge of the digital space, and can confidently advise clients on digital adoption, it can be a real draw card as they look to build their client base.
Training the next generation
The reality is current university students – the future of the accounting profession – are almost all digital natives. They expect good digitisation across the multiple systems within their university toolkit, and that expectation continues as they move into the workforce.
But understanding how the systems work is key. We need to educate the next generation on the way that business software works, and the action behind each digital process. This means focusing on 'systems thinking', setting up students to be intuitive thinkers. If they understand the process chain involved in digital tools, they'll have the confidence and insight to work across various systems.
With this approach, it means regardless of which platform they are trained in, or their future employer uses, students are workforce ready on gradation.
This digital-first mindset will enable them to fully embrace and enjoy good digitisation, and at MYOB we’re committed to helping ensure they can achieve this. We’re partnering with over 50 universities across the region who use free MYOB Business software in course assignments to provide students with an authentic hands-on learning experience, and we’re building a cohesive business management platform to address the disconnection issues many businesses are facing.
To date we’ve invested in strategic partnerships and acquisitions to provide deep integrations around the business workflows that matter the most. For example, we’re helping businesses better manage their employees through our partnership with Flare HR, where their onboarding capabilities are embedded within the MYOB platform. And we recently announced a partnership with Westpac, where together we’re helping businesses better manage their money and providing them with greater visibility across their business.
While we’re on this journey at present, we realise there’s more we can do. But we’re firm believers an industry wide approach is required to fully address these issues, to create good digitisation across the board, and to ensure the next generation are equipped to reap the benefits.