Changing clients and relationships
Technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing, the internet of things, big data, platforms, blockchains and new ways of networking are changing the way we do business.
This technology – the core of “digital disruption” - is at varying stages of development.
But the choices regarding how it is used and when to use it are decisions that need to be made today.
For accounting practices, using these technologies to provide a one-stop-shop for clients who increasingly want personalised and real-time answers and services, is a strong proposition.
Indeed, that is what clients will come to expect. Developing cooperative models with other companies will be one way to meet this client expectation. It seems likely that client hoarding will be a thing of the past.
Keeping personal relationships with clients will clearly remain core (and become even more important as tech dominates the small things), but digital advancements will see expertise and value move beyond the office - it will be via mobile devices, chat bots, merged reality, or even augmented reality.
Keeping the human at the centre of the expert-client relationship will be critical. A new mindset is needed. Today’s ways of establishing and maintaining relationships with clients will probably not translate into the world that will exist in 10 years.
The next generation and the next
Your “millennial” clients may question the values of your business.
How do they fit with their personal values? How do you care for the environment? How do you care for trees? Should everything be online? They’re not being anti-establishment – they’re acting intuitively; this is who we raised. This applies to millennial employees as well.
How do you interact with this generation? It’s worth applying the ‘rule of eight’ which suggests that to feel understood, a client should be working with an employee no more than eight years younger or eight years older than they are.
As we’re longer-lived than our ancestors, it’s reasonable to expect to have upwards of five generations of clients - from the currently-teenaged members of Generation Z to the still-productive 80-year old members of the Silent Generation.
In the future workplace, it will be important to ensure you have the personnel to put these varying ages at ease.
1920s - 1940s
1940s - 1960s
1960s - 1980s
1980s - 2000s
2000s - 2020s
Computers aren’t intelligent enough to replace us
We’re a long way from being replaced by machines. One simple way of knowing this is that computers, while possessing immense processing intelligence, struggle with other types of tasks required to successfully enable a business relationship.
Humans bring emotional, social and empathetic intelligence to a business meeting, while technology brings processing power to enable never-before-seen insights linking seemingly disparate datasets.
For the foreseeable future, computers and technology will augment the professional rather than replace him/her. This augmentation is at the heart of MYOB’s connected practice strategy, where technology enhances the value a business advisor can offer his or her clients.
But technology isn’t everything. Conventional face-to-face professional interactions that characterised the expert-client relationship in the past is giving way to consumer demands for experiences from companies who put the personal, the human at the core of how they do business.
The age of immediacy
We’re entering an age of immediacy.
We want new movies and we want them streaming now. We want Ubers and we want to see exactly how many minutes away they are. We want to apply for a loan and know straight away whether we’ve been successful. We want to download a book or listen to music or pay someone back or get paid from someone … right… now.
This need for immediacy is yet to strike our industry fully, but it will happen. It will be the business owner expecting her accountant to be on-call when she needs them. It’s unlikely that organising meetings for three weeks’ time will suit the expectations of the business owner of the future.