Technology is shaking up every sector of industry. From one end of the value chain to the other, business leaders are rethinking not just their IT infrastructure but their business model as a whole. These changes are influencing what they need and expect from their professional services firm.
So, what are those needs and expectations? In my conversations with clients, I’m finding a number of recurring themes. They include:
Process efficiency. Clients are on the hunt for error-prone, manual processes that they can automate in a cost-effective way. This means professional services providers – including the auditors of tomorrow—must understand those business processes and how they align with the company’s overall strategy. It also means professional services providers must be familiar with emerging technologies—think Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain—so they can identify practical applications and work with their clients to get them in place.
Data-driven insights. With data continuing to accumulate in their organizations, clients are looking to their professional services providers for help in making sense of it all. That includes finding ways to tap into the data, analyze it and use it to make better business decisions. Beyond that, clients want to know how they can extend this capability so that anyone in their organization might find the answers they need, regardless of technical skill.
Enabling platforms. These can be any kind, from departmental solutions to enterprise systems and from on-premises deployments to cloud-based subscription services. Whatever the form, clients would like to understand the right ones to support business functions like marketing, supply chain management and human resources. Clients also need assistance with securing these platforms and the data on them, in line with internal policy plus the varied and ever-changing regulations across jurisdictions.
Talent. With automation and other forms of digitization come changes to the workforce. Clients often struggle with what types of skills are needed on both sides of the equation. IT employees need to know more about the business. And business people need to know more about technology. It’s confusing, and clients are seeking help with sorting it out as they battle other companies to attract and retain talented people in a tightening job market.
So that’s it: a brief roundup of what our clients are asking about as they come to grips with digital disruption. What’s striking is how much these concerns reflect a mindset for embracing technology and change. More than ever, what they need from their professional services providers is partnership in untangling these new challenges as they navigate an exciting but mercurial future.