How to keep pace in the fast-changing world of technology

How to keep pace in the fast-changing world of technology

T-Tech discuss how a virtual CIO could help your firm lead change, manage conflicting departments, and ensure business continuity without breaking the bank.

How to keep pace in the fast-changing world of technology

The technological landscape is constantly modifying and improving as each day passes – change is the only constant. Making Tax Digital is well underway, while Accenture has predicted robotics will automate or eliminate 40% of basic accounting by 2020. Evolving technology such as intelligent automation will also develop, enabling accountants to focus on the demands of clients more readily.

The challenge with these technological advancements is that many practices are aware of their potential but are struggling to apply them or know where to start as more advanced technologies are created. So, how do practices manage this constant change and adopt the right technologies to increase business growth?

Having someone dedicated to taking ownership of your IT business strategy will prevent your practice from falling behind competitors and drive business growth.

The biggest challenges

One of the biggest challenges to keeping on top of emerging technology is that the pace of change is too fast. Changes can be made, and they are worth the short-term distraction today to make a real difference going into tomorrow. Sometimes this needs a person who isn’t distracted by the day to day to bring this reality to life.

Many firms have an IT team that manage projects and advancements within the business. This team often report into a partner, who might have some knowledge or interest in technology, but amongst all their other responsibilities, won’t necessarily be fully educated to the extent of delivering real change that will improve efficiencies within the business. They no doubt have clients to service and billable work to do! This means that practices aren’t fully benefiting from what could really help them or their clients.

Without dedicated resources assigned to delivering projects of magnitude, the task may be doomed before it has begun. Indeed, Information Age states that only 29% of IT project implementations are successful in terms of delivering what is expected and staying within budget. This often occurs when the softer side of technology is under-invested in the project management.

Technology spend should fall somewhere between 5% and 15% of turnover depending on how technology is viewed – cost centre versus investment. However, such spending should be aligned to wider business objectives and strategy to ensure the best return on investment and part of that is to consider change and people impact.

Most practices want to use technology, but it often falls into the “too hard/not now” box with many not knowing where to start, how to choose the right solutions, or what solutions are available. So, what’s the solution?

Introducing the virtual CIO

To lead change, manage conflicting departments, and ensure business continuity, we believe in a specialist or virtual chief information officer (CIO) who can coordinate all these elements with IT. A virtual CIO is a contractor who serves as a practice’s CIO, specialising in coordinating strategic IT with business goals, with the aim to help develop the company and achieve growth. They are often the translator between board level and the IT Team – they speak both languages. Often, this is better as it overcomes the salary worries of hiring another C-level executive but does provide the valuable insight required.

A practice can bring in the virtual CIO to consult on technology decisions on an on-demand basis, therefore proving a cost-effective conclusion. Knowing what IT transformations your practice can really gain value from should be made easy. This is where the virtual CIO can give your firm the expertise and tools it needs, to navigate it in the right direction and achieve success.

Achieving the end goal

Many firms don’t see how technology can contribute to business growth, therefore it is not seen as important. The accountant-specific issue is the number of disparate applications used across a practice, which often puts IT into a “too hard” box. It doesn’t need to be. Technology should have a place at board level and sit with strategic business decisions, rather than be just a support function of the business that doesn’t require much attention.

It is often assumed that standard project planning and management includes the activities required to drive digital change. But not enough time is spent considering and preparing people, leaving the organisation ill-equipped and unprepared for what lies ahead. Dedicating a virtual CIO to managing change shouldn’t be pushed to the side; identifying your end goal and how it aligns to the wider organisational strategy and vision will reduce your long-term costs associated with slow adoption and enable a truly competitive edge.

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