Professional services must embrace a digital model or risk becoming extinct

It's time to embrace the digital model, writes Barrie Dowsett, CEO at Myriad Associates...


The global opportunity to disrupt the professional services industry has never looked better.  

Many practices still prefer to deliver a traditional consultancy approach, which typically starts off with a face-to-face session with consultancy time charged by the minute.

Professional services, like accounting, legal, and consulting have only just started to embrace the digital revolution, although there is some way to go on this front. These sectors are not known for their love of digitalisation.

However, due to the speed and seriousness of COVID-19 that is going to need to change. 

Just about every business has been forced to go into survival mode with the UK economy shrinking by 2% during the first three months of 2020

At Myriad Associates, we believe the short-term is all about businesses preserving cash, battening down the hatches, and hopefully securing some form of bailout from the government

Coincided with this, companies have needed to trust their teams to work from home as well as come up with a new business model or a major pivot as soon as possible.

Change is coming to the professional services sector, whether we like it or not. We can’t sit by and do nothing; we either embrace it or fade away.

It’s time to embrace digital or risk falling behind

Can you digitise your expertise and knowledge? 

Innovations in AI technology have opened more opportunities to incorporate expertise and knowledge into digital platforms.

Digital delivery of professional services will enable alternative monetisation opportunities and grow without the need to hire more people. As Deloitte reports, it’s expected the tipping point where AI technology will be mainstream for ‘white-collar jobs’ is in 2025.

The traditional time and materials fee model can be replaced with a subscription or outcome-based pricing. 

Clients are increasingly focused on desired business outcomes rather than the effort associated with the delivery, driving new contract structures and relationships with providers. 

This means a success or outcome fee model will eventually become the new normal. The digital delivery of services will be a great enabler of these new pricing models.  

Have a ‘work anywhere/anytime’ workforce

We already have the tools to work anywhere in the world at any time. 

Powerful collaboration platforms and video conferencing platforms, like Zoom, have been around for a number of years, but many in the professional services industry have been reluctant to follow. 

Despite many practices still working remotely, these types of digital platforms are open 24/7 – allowing professional services to flexibly meet customer demand.

Will this become the new normal? It’s certainly here for the foreseeable future and we’re seeing many businesses that are adopting this way of communicating permanently as part of their service.

Examples of financial services going digital

We have seen a number of businesses embrace digital transformation, including Receipt Bank

Founded in 2010, the Receipt Bank platform was born as a solution to relieve the amount of time and money lost in forgotten expenses, keeping track of a company’s expenses and sharing it with their accountant.

Its platform has unlocked the true value of accounting data. 

Using a unique combination of human verification and AI-powered OCR technology, documents can be turned into digital data extremely quickly and with far greater accuracy than before. 

There’s no time wasted on data entry or admin tasks either and general ledger can be updated in real-time.

Lightwork Business, which – as the name suggests – set up a business ‘light work’ by automating it as much as possible, is another good example of how the digital revolution can be adopted.

In particular, they offer new companies the use of a prestigious central London office address and provide extras, such as digital versions of all the statutory registers, required to keep and maintain,  as well as First Board Meeting minutes and share certificates.

How a software service, like Tax Cloud, can make your financial life easier 

When it comes to digital, software like Tax Cloud portal is becoming invaluable, due to their self-service approach that helps a number of businesses and accountants thrive and make their life easier.

A lot of them are also free to use. Companies can use the Tax Cloud portal to work out exactly what R&D tax relief they can claim using their own figures, with applications created in a fully supported but hands-off fashion.

A number of these services now also come with telephone and online support but you still get the telephone and online support of a highly experienced R&D tax consultancy to help you along the way.

In conclusion

The upheaval and uncertainty surrounding the economic impact of COVID-19 are not going away any time soon. 

With this in mind, now is an excellent time for businesses across the professional services world to reshape their business models in order to compete. 

Not only will this give your company the best chance of surviving and thriving, but your customers will love you for it too.

About Barrie Dowsett…

As CEO and owner of Myriad Associates, Barrie Dowsett is responsible for overseeing all R&D tax credits claims and R&D grant applications. With over 15 years of experience, Barrie ensures that every R&D tax claim is maximised and that his clients have the best chance of securing grant funding. Prior to establishing Myriad, Barrie worked as a hands-on Finance Director for a number of large international manufacturing and engineering businesses. Barrie is a qualified Cost and Management Accountant (CIMA) and Member in Practice (MiP).

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