Business Automation and Digital Transformation
By Alan Rajah, Lawrence Grant
In the world of finance and accounting, maintaining the status quo is no longer enough to remain competitive. Today's market requires companies to engage in continuous improvement so that they are always serving clients in faster and more accessible ways. As financial and accounting services look to attract, engage, and retain customers, there's only one solution for climbing the ranks. The digital automation movement is sweeping the field and pushing the limits of what is possible. Companies that embrace automation will find increased profits and productivity. Digital transformation moves manual, repetitive tasks off their employees' checklists and into the metaphorical hands of artificial intelligence.
Digital Transformation 101
When it comes to digital transformation, the skies are the limit. Companies that undergo this transformation seek to use technological solutions to create streamlined processes for their customers and employees. By utilising the latest strategies and platforms, companies can identify problems before they manifest and intentionally plan for their resolution.
Any viable company already uses digital platforms and applications to log, track, and monitor data, but this takes manpower and human resources. Instead of brainpower going towards the next innovation, it's spent on manually pulling data or walking customers through an issue. This is where AI comes in - to automate processes, leverage institutional knowledge, and even take over customer interactions. Digital transformation strategies elevate business operations so that customers can always find exactly what they need, perhaps even before they know they need it.
Simply put - automation is the way of the future. The idea of automation is not a dystopian experiment in which robots displace human workers, but rather leveraging AI capabilities to enhance worker productivity and increase customer satisfaction. Workers that typically carry out mundane, repetitive tasks can shift their energy away from these menial duties and focus instead on creative problem-solving and innovation.
Companies should also consider the return on investment of having unlimited data at their fingertips. Utilising more AI means less reliance upon institutional knowledge that could retire or switch companies, and instead, capturing this information in an accessible platform. The automation of knowledge management facilitates communication and collaboration inside of and across departments, leading to better outcomes.
Implementation is Easier than Ever
While the idea of undergoing a transformation might at first seem time-consuming and high-risk, working with the right partner will make the transition smooth and sustainable. All too often, companies will hire consulting firms that provide a few workshops at the C-level, but nothing tangible ever seems to come of these discussions. Rather than falling prey to buzz words and flashy demos, firms should seek out hands-on partners that are willing to do the hard work of getting to know their client’s consumer base and processes.
To achieve digital transformation, a company will need to enter a period of discovery, where employees at all levels and in a variety of departments can provide open and honest feedback about their daily challenges. Once stakeholders identify root issues, technological prototypes can be created that directly address challenging pressure points - whether that's AI support in tracking companywide trends in customer behaviour, creating a new workflow, or integrating multiple platforms. When the prototype solution has proven successful, it's easy to train staff and gain their buy-in, especially if a variety of stakeholders and departments have provided input and feel communication is transparent.
Taking Companies to the Next Level
Finance and accounting firms have the most to gain by entering the world of digital transformation. For those in the financial and accounting industries, taking care of clients and customers becomes personal. From families to Fortune 500 companies, real-life people place their trust in a financial firm to manage and protect their money. The fastest way to lose business is for clients and customers to feel insecure in their transactions with a financial institution. With automation, companies can leave behind reactive solutions and instead strategically engage with their constituents and boost confidence.
Saves Time and Energy
By automating tasks, like manually pulling reports or entering data, employees will have more bandwidth and can creatively apply their talents to the bigger picture, mission-oriented problems. This approach is great for customers in two ways: the first being that customers can now handle lowlevel inquiries or issues independently, or perhaps with help from an AI virtual assistant. The second is that when a customer does have a more extensive or unique situation, they can count on being served by a pleasant and prompt company representative.
Increases Customer Engagement and Retention
From the customer perspective, nothing is more frustrating than having to repeat a financial problem to multiple representatives and receive different answers. Although large finance and accounting operations might have different departments, each with their own platforms, to the customer, there is only one brand. Automation solves the issue of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. With the right AI tools, customer interactions become seamless, which increases customer satisfaction and referrals.
Earlier Detection, Better Decisions
With the right AI solution, finance and accounting firms can protect their company and client interests from all angles. AI can pull and analyse objective data, providing real-time insights on patterns and trends. Successful firms that have embraced the digital transformation movement can detect potential fraud, risk, and error.
Welcome to the Future
With artificial intelligence, nearly any solution is possible. While some might perceive automation as replacing human effort, it further highlights the value of employees and workers. Any digital transformation will only be as successful as the people that are coming together for change. It requires companies to keep the human perspective at the forefront by considering their enduser - the customer. Companies, departments, and employees will need to collaborate, communicate, and exchange ideas to design and produce the best technological solutions to advance their company's purpose. The digital transformation movement is not only here to stay, but will also reveal the full potential of the finance and accounting field.
For further information, on how to implement automation and digital transformation for your clients please email me for further information.
Alan RajahGGI member firm
Lawrence Grant, Chartered Accountants
Advisory, Auditing and Accounting, Fiduciary and Estate Planning, Tax
T: +44 20 8861 7575
Lawrence Grant, Chartered Accountants celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Based in North London, they have over 30 staff, three partners and two tax consultants providing well-respected accountancy, business support, and cross-border tax advice. They also offer a selection of cloud and digital software solutions using AI technology.
Alan Rajah joined Lawrence Grant in 1994 and became partner in 2001. He is involved in all areas of general practice, specialising in valuations of business, due diligence, and mergers and acquisitions. His client portfolio includes UK and overseas companies and individuals as well as medical professionals. Alan is global vice chairperson of the GGI International Tax Practice Group.
Publsihed: GGI Insider, No. 109, September 2020 l Photo: BullRun - stock.adobe.com