The term digital disruption is in common use these days, describing a phenomenon that not only threatens industries, but in some cases, actually destroys an industry. Think video outlets and music outlets. And print too, which represented over 80% of advertising in 2000, and is likely to be below 15% by 2020. The question on the table is – as the graphic above implies – are robots going to destroy the bookkeeper role? And the traditional accounting business model? We’re not literally talking about robots, rather it’s automation and commoditisation.
Yes, the digital age is disruptive and even destructive, but it is also enabling huge gains in productivity and creating a raft of new job roles– think data analyst, code writer, content marketer. Just as technology (infotronics) killed Kodak and Borders, smart professionals are doing what they do best: equip themselves with technology and learn new skills.

The firm of the future

To build or be the firm of the future you will need to move at the same rate as the disruptive changes that are impacting the industry. Inertia looks like a risky option. Once you get your clients’ books cleaned up, then it’s time to analyse them. Even a crude analysis of business owner concerns will reveal that a majority will say cash flow is what keeps them awake at night. The cash flow projections will provide the roadmap for the business owner. This is the “Holy Grail” of advisory work for accounting technicians. When combined with ratios they reveal how the business is travelling. Is this what the bookkeeping firm of the future is all about?

Accounting software packages with add-ons provide lots of tools to the professional of the future but so does the cloud-based Google Spreadsheet. But these are tools, not intelligence. Increasingly, data collection is becoming commoditised and, as we all know, commodities can be purchased anywhere. What looms large is the need for a sustainable business case for the professional.

Never stop learning

The never-stop-learning mindset delivers more than just certificates and credentials; it builds resilience. Learning Cash Flow Management 101, as a case in point, can make you disruption-proof. Besides the obvious, once you become well versed in doing this for yourself, you can go back and add this as a service for your clients and you can charge premium for this. It adds to your value to the business owner; and it’s what the vast majority of clients want. They want the ability to project where their business is going. They just don’t have the tools to do it.

It’s quite a journey. Feel free to post comments, questions, and feedback