I was reading an article in the Times business supplement last weekend and came across the following comment from the CEO of a major US company, ‘Mr Fields said that the company was moving away from its role as a major [… I’m building suspense here] maker to one that invested in software, connectivity technology and services..’ Just to add a little context, this comment was given during a presentation at the Mobile World Congress – an event traditionally focused on delivering news about the developments in the mobile phone market.
Who is Mr Fields? The CEO of Ford! So, the company that managed to move the motorcar from being a novelty to a core part of modern day life, now sees itself as a software company … really?
Piece of metal
Well, think about it. Ask anyone what has made a difference to their business or working lives in the last 20 years and I bet you a large number of the comments will be down to software choices. Remember, the iphone is a lovely piece of metal but it is useless without the iOS software that makes it work.
So, if we agree that all those apps, icon, widgets and mouse clicks define how we work then we are all puppets of technology…. right? Not quite – in fact not even close. Mr Fields was actually commenting on the rise of the autonomous car and quite sensibly concluded that whilst technology can make certain functions ‘driverless’ (parking, emergency breaking etc), the human brain is still required.
Replaced with Robots?
There are of course parallels with accountants and the recent study by Oxford University and Deloitte has shown just that. Out of 366 professions analyzed, a bookkeeper is the 8th most likely job to be replaced by a robot… accountants fared little better at 26th. The most significant thing about these findings is that the study relates to job roles ‘in the current form’ ie if bookkeepers focus on data entry and accountants focus on pure compliance work then yes…. their days are numbered. Key things to remember:
- Focus on what adds value for your customers – ask clients ‘what do you think you pay me for?’ if they say ‘crunching numbers’ then be worried.
- Understand what tasks can be done by a ‘robot’, or software and find the right robot to do them.
- Do not just leave it up to clients to pick the software. Find the right software, become experts and make sure your clients use it.
- Do not pick software just based on features, what does the support look like? What does the training program look like? – it amuses me when firms charge for training on their own product!
- Do not see the software as just a chance to make a little margin. Include it in the overall offer. Value pricing is key.
At Intuit in the UK we have recognized the importance of making sure you become experts in QuickBooks Online. Therefore we have just announced a new series of training for accountants, bookkeepers, advanced users, payroll administrators and partners. All of these are tailored to the audience, delivered in various formats and are free. They also sit alongside our seminars aimed at helping you sell, price and package your cloud-based services. Let me know if you want more information.