I was delighted to be the opening keynote speaker for the Digital Accountancy Forum 2017 on 4th October, with my day made even better when we took home the award for Accountancy Software of the Year later that evening. (You can view the presentation by clicking on the image).
The focus for the day was on the impact of technology on the accounting profession, a topic which was interestingly covered from a number of different viewpoints.
I shared the morning stage with senior figures from Deloitte, IFAC, PwC and Grant Thornton. I was asked to share my views on bringing accountancy into the digital age while my fellow speakers touched on tax technology, global perspectives and audit disruption.
On the face of it these topics do have commonality, as technology is the driver behind the change in all areas. However, a slightly surprising theme emerged from all our keynotes.
The change which is upon the accounting profession isn’t necessarily all about technology. The key to successfully benefiting from technology is actually change management and people skills.
It is something I have long been advocating and it’s the key reason we established Inflo as a SaaS business. Accounting firms need strong change management support to extract the full benefit from any technology solution they choose to use.
Firms can only achieve the full benefit of any technology by incorporating it into their core processes and using it consistently and repeatedly. It is the only way clients receive the full benefit, as their accountants know how to interpret the findings and the actions which should result.
The role of people should never be underplayed. As the profession looks to the future and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence are hyped, the immediate term reality is that accountants need to work with client finance staff in a slightly different way – person to person.
So when the key to utilising technology right now distils down to changing the way people work, it stands to reason that change management and people are critical to success.
Mark Edmondson, Inflo CEO