I was shocked, but on reflection not surprised, to read about the imminent demise of Kodak, a corporate and cultural icon that we have all grown up with - when I say all, I mean those of us over forty. Add to this the current travails of other icons like HMV and the dire state of retail generally and we have to recognise that the world has changed.
The reason? In a word, digital.
Kodak and HMV, and the high street, are analogue businesses in a digital world. They were unable, or too short-sighted, to adapt and are now about to drown in the binary tsunami.
The accountancy profession, like all other businesses, must quickly adapt to the new reality. Firms that cannot, or chose not to, will be swept away.
The recurring nature of annual compliance work, together with the traditional "stickyness" of clients, has so far shielded firms from the full effects of digital. This is just breathing space, however, and the water is now rising quickly.
It's time for firms to take a long, hard, honest look at themselves. Here's my list of the "analogue" in a typical, traditional accountancy firm:
- Paper-based client accounting records
- Paper-based working papers
- Franking machines
- Answer machines
- Fax machines
- Printed, bound financial statements
- Comb binders
- Budget booklets
- Tax data cards
- Physical client files
- Filing cabinets
I am sure that I have missed some but my point is that a firm with digital coursing through its veins would not have any of the above in its office - if, indeed, it has an office at all.