Automation is completely transforming the global workforce. It’s especially having a profound effect on the service industry and, in particular, accounting.
“This shift towards automation is going to be dramatic. More than 50% of the service jobs that exist today will not exist in ten years,” Xero Chief Marketing and Business Officer, Andy Lark told more than 1,300 attendees at Xerocon in London this week.
By 2020 it’s expected that around a quarter of the economy will be digital and by 2018 it’s estimated around 35 million service robots will be sold around the world. The next wave of automation has truly begun and it’s going to cause upheaval.
“We have to become automated, it’s the only way you can work in the new world,” Lark said.
However, natural human inertia to change means many in the service industry will be late to the party.
“People often prefer death over change – the majority of people who have a medical event are told if they don’t make a change, they will die. Yet they don’t change. We avoid change,” Lark said, adding those who adopt innovation and change early will “eat the late” comers.
Here are Lark’s 5 simple strategies accountants and bookkeepers can use to stay ahead of the innovation curve.
1. Learn to love data first
“Data will tell you who you should fall in love with and what your chances are of them falling in love with you,” he said.
In the UK it’s estimated around 600,000 small businesses will launch this year. Around 70% of them are owned by millennials, the majority of which want to grow and drive efficiencies.
“For accountants and bookkeepers, your audience is younger than ever before. If you’re not gearing up to address that market, you’re not going to grow,” Lark said.
“More than 60% of those small business owners want to grow, they want to build businesses, they want to get into the numbers. They sit there and they watch Dragon’s Den and they say ‘I’m next’ – they want to conquer.
“We’re going to do heaps more for you with our data so you can understand what the market looks like and help your clients, so you can be a better advisor.”
2. Build beautiful brands
“You can build great brands and great advocates, when you listen,” Lark said, adding “Service brands need to care about the customer.”
Video is what really creates cut-through in today’s noisy world. Lark suggests embedding video into everything you do.
“The more video you use, the more love and intimacy you will build with your customers,” Lark said. ”In fact, why not make it clear to your customers that their subscription includes access to educational video content?”
3. Meet them on mobile
The widespread adoption of mobile devices has created an enormous shift for everyone in business.
“Make sure you optimize your online content for mobile,” Lark said. “Anyone searching for you online should see a Google card pop up with a map and overview of your business. Make that the first thing you fix about your online presence.”
4. The platform is where love happens
Powerful products are morphing into platforms.
“It’s an enormous shift in the market,” Lark said, adding that more than a quarter of Xero’s 600,000+ customers connect to one or more of our 500+ integrations, in the cloud.
Xero has grown into a connected small business platform where a small business’ accountant, advisor, bank data, business CRM and point of sales systems all connect together.
In the UK alone, more than 46 million transactions were processed over the past 12 months. And with five of the top six UK banks integrating with Xero, we also have direct bank feeds for over 90% of small businesses.
5. Build beautiful experiences
Having passion and making investments to build the best product, or offer the best service, helps you establish a solid business.
“The reason the emphasis on product is so important is that the pace of change is off the charts…When you get that combination of a beautiful product and beautiful experiences knitted together, that’s where you make love,” Lark said, adding it’s not something you can fake.