While understanding the features, functionality, importance, and benefits of emerging solutions is critical to staying in tune with the ever-changing technology space, it is equally important to separate fact versus fiction as it relates to the perceived barriers of entry for implementation. It may not always feel this way, but technology implementation and digital transformation is truly attainable and accessible for ALL companies.
As a technology consultant and CPA, I often discuss these topics with clients and prospects hearing common themes or reasons they feel they are unable to implement emerging technologies and go through digital transformation at their organizations. Below, I highlight three of those themes and address the concerns head-on:
Reasons to implement emerging technologies
As CPAs, we are financially driven and come by it honestly. Cost is certainly a factor with implementing new technology, however, performing a simple cost/benefit analysis after having a clear understanding of the value of the emerging technology, will provide clarity into the actual ‘cost’. Often there is an intrinsic value that digital transformation brings to an organization, making a cost/benefit analysis more challenging to calculate. Determining efficiencies to be gained is one way to quantify a benefit in terms of dollars:
Example: Assume implementation of a data visualization solution eliminates the need for manual report generation and distribution, conservatively resulting in the corporation saving time equal to 1 day a week for an individual with a $100,000/year salary. That translates into approx. $20,000 of benefit (capacity) back to the organization. Further, if the same data visualization solution saves that amount of time for 5 employees in the same position (i.e., regional managers, project managers, etc.), now our benefit is approaching $100,000 annually or 1 FTE at that level. By calculating those benefits, a $20,000 price tag for technology implementation may not appear as significant as it once did.
Calculating tangible value returned to help determine a return on investment can ease the pain of upfront implementation costs. Additionally, any successful technology consultant should be able to provide you with multiple options for implementation spanning various price points that still meet your needs without pricing you out.
Size & Complexity
There is a misconception that emerging technologies and digital transformation are only realistically accessible or economically feasible for large or complex companies. The fact is most, if not all companies can realistically implement and benefit from emerging technologies today! Will a ‘Mom & Pop’ retail store benefit enough from implementing a CPM solution to justify the cost? Maybe not, but they can certainly benefit from Robotic Process Automation processing invoices and online orders to free them up throughout the day to serve their customers face to face without hiring an additional employee. Likewise, does a $10M wholesaler need Machine Learning? Maybe not, but a data analytics and visualization solution may allow them to perform recurring analysis to identify, monitor, and grow their most successful markets thus improving their top line. It is easy to hear about emerging technologies and mentally jump right to a basement full of data scientists working for NASA and developing advanced algorithms to send astronauts into space. The truth is there is a use case to implement different emerging technologies at every company, at a variety of price points and regardless of industry, workforce skillset, company size or complexity.
“We aren’t ready for any new technology, we have too many manual processes to convert.” Have you said that to yourself when reading this or any of our other previous posts? Or what about, “We can’t change, that’s the way we’ve always done it!” Does anybody else cringe when they hear this? Personally, I enjoy hearing those comments because it means the need is there! Processes that have existed seemingly since company inception are certainly challenging, but not impossible, to enhance (notice I did not say replace). Layering technology into previously manual tasks takes time, planning, and training, but it is imperative in keeping the company positioned to be as profitable as possible moving forward. Investments in technology equate to investments in your people, as automating mundane and repetitive tasks will provide the opportunity for employees to perform more value-added tasks for the organization while simultaneously increasing the capacity of the existing workforce. Getting from current state to future state in terms of business processes often requires outside consulting to assist with the transformation and implementation, but the journey can easily begin by equipping employees that have the institutional knowledge with the appropriate technology to carry out existing process is the most efficient and effective way possible. All companies can go through digital transformation and those who perceive they are “not ready” or “unable” to implement change, are simply at a different rest stop on the roadmap of readiness than others.
When considering implementing any new emerging technology, my advice is this: ask questions, get answers, consider your options, and find a trusted partner to help you fully understand your pain points and work through the implementation process. Each question answered and every piece of information received about the digital transformation process will continue to make developing and executing an implementation strategy easier. Perception is not always reality and understanding the technology and implementation process will transform those perceived barriers of entry into realized opportunities of growth.
About Schneider Downs Digital Transformation
The Schneider Downs Digital Transformation team leverages technological innovations and our business expertise to develop strategic transformative solutions that drive business process improvement for organizations of all sizes. Our solutions are built to identify and implement process and technology enhancements that are scalable and enable improved data reliability, productivity and timely reporting and analysis.
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Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.