Accounting and business advisory firm HURST has created a specialist digital team to help companies improve their performance and efficiency by making the most of technology.
The new team, HURST Digital, is led by Jo Gibson, an associate partner in the firm’s business services team, and includes senior digital consultants Neil Jackson and James Hallewell, supported by IT manager Andrew Vennard.
“The technology revolution is ushering in new software applications and a host of other innovations,” Gibson says.
“By embracing the digital era, businesses are able to improve their systems, processes and data flows, which will ultimately improve their bottom line. Our approach is designed to transform businesses through technology, automation and integration.
“By providing a bespoke service and tailoring solutions to suit the client’s business strategy, we are helping them make better decisions and become more efficient and successful.
“When used correctly, technology can help businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors, and has been proven to help attract and retain the best talent.”
Gibson also believes that the presence of a digital team would have a transformative impact on a business, enabling them to create greater efficiencies and increase their bottom line.
“It further clarifies our positioning as a leading full-service business advisory firm for privately-owned and entrepreneurial companies in the north west with an offering and technical expertise that goes well beyond just accounting,” she said.
Other firms following suit?
As the role of the accountant evolves due to technological advancements, Gibson believed that digital teams like HURST’s will become increasingly commonplace, but she was confident that the role of an accountant would be forced to adapt rather than be replaced.
“The role of accountants is changing at a drastic pace and gradually we will see more of a focus on advisory, as opposed to the compliance side of things,” she said.
“Technology won’t necessarily replace the role of accountants, but there will be an element of adaptation required to keep pace, so eventually business models should and will have to change, with more of a focus on a tech-savvy profile rather than a ‘number cruncher’.
“The quality of data that will be made available thanks to technological advancements will be very different, but there will still be a need to interpret this into sound business advice – something that technology won’t be able to do.
“All areas of business and commerce require judgement and decision-making, and technology is far off being able to make instinctive judgements – even with the rise of Artificial Intelligence, which is still limited and cannot take into account certain elements of business advice that only humans can deliver thanks to the insight provided by the said technology,” she added.
Changing expectations driving digitisation
Gibson argued that it was merely “logical” for accountants to digitise their practice as the world is increasingly dependent on digital processes and the expectation from customers and investors alike is that accountants are able to reflect the modern world.
“In the modern world, businesses need to ensure that as much data as possible is produced and reported efficiently and in real-time, providing insightful information and sound business intelligence to underpin key decisions, reduce errors and generate cost savings.
“As the way we work and do business evolves, it is logical for companies to go digital to align themselves with changing expectations from customers, employees and investors.
“Soon, legacy systems will no longer be supported, so inputting data manually and maintaining paper-based processes will become a thing of the past.
“The best way for businesses to stay ahead and remain competitive is to ensure core business systems, processes and software are fully integrated.
“It’s more vital than ever that businesses start to gain an understanding of what digitalisation can mean for them and reach out to specialists to ensure they implement the right strategy.”