The three approaches to digitisation

As a cloud-based technology provider, we try to help SMEs digitise their services. We look to help them leverage data to be able to use data to enhance the services and to work more efficiently. We help SMEs get access to tools like AI and robotic process automation so they can more easily embed them into their existing services or create new services. We also work with firms to increase the value of the compliance services that they deliver or the advisory services that they would like to deliver more of.

Recently we have seen the challenges that firms are facing around digital service delivery in these uncertain times. Firms that have previously invested in technology and embraced remote working as a concept prior to COVID-19 have been able to work very effectively in this new world. Those who perhaps were a little bit slower or have not progressed as far on their digital journey have found it very challenging. For services that might require firms to be on site or are very paper based, that is immediately a very challenging service to continue to deliver in this new technological environment.

Taking this concept of digitisation, we see this typically fitting into three different approaches, each of which play an important role in an organisation’s journey towards digitising its services.

The first approach is enhancing the work that you currently do, and this is really around identifying aspects of a service that you currently deliver that could be digitised or automated. There are lots of examples in any accounting firm of any size of things that are being done that could be digitised or automated.

The second approach is elevating which is about using different techniques to achieve the same outcomes. So rather than automating the existing method of doing something, coming up with an alternative way of achieving the same results.

And finally, the third approach is around transforming which is reimagining what you could do and how you could do it through leveraging digital technologies. For example, creating a whole new service offering e.g. a new advisory service, by leveraging the technologies that are available or could be developed.

At the moment, most firms would probably be focused very much on enhancing and really trying to find ways of digitising their existing way of performing services. However, it’s very important as you’re starting to think about digitisation, to work out which one of these categories that you are investing your time and effort into as it very much changes the way that you approach the digitisation and the innovation that you are looking to achieve.

Whatever the services or whatever the area of improvement that you are looking to make, it can be very easy and very simple to break it down into these three steps. Effectively, any service that an accounting firm is offering is reliant upon inputs, whether that be from the client or from your team, from a process that needs to be performed and then the outputs of the process. Across the spectrum, we can make improvements that will have knock on effects across the entire offering that we have.

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The full discussion can be found on our Digitising Services in an SMP article.