I am pretty sure that your clients are not using a stagecoach service to deliver their bill payments. That would’ve been a forward thinking move in 1855, when the horse-drawn carriage offered the only way to operate a transcontinental business. Then, trains crossed the nation, followed by interstate highways. And airlines. And the Internet.

No matter how much you like your stagecoach driver, you wouldn’t trust your mission critical commerce to him today. The expectations of your partners and customers mean that you need to be faster, more reliable, and more efficient. Sorry, stagecoach driver. I am going to email the documents.

carriage

We chuckle about these technology advancements after they have happened. How quaint is it that a business person bragged once that by using a stage coach, he could deliver payments to San Francisco from St. Louis in less than a month? By train in less than a week? Using UPS Next Day Air?

We appreciate change after the change has happened. It is fun to laugh at how we used to do things. But while change is happening, it can be painful.

New Expectations Are Changing Our Business

At the end of Almost Famous, set in 1973 and released in 2000, they mock the inception of fax machines: “it only takes 18 minutes a page!”

Let me introduce you to my friend E. Mail?

They don’t make films about business accounting, but if they did, tense dramas featuring bean counters will be laughed at for their old-fashioned tools in a few years. Business accounting, particularly for small and medium business, is about to experience a shakeup. The roots of this change is the available technology, but it is being driven by the thinking of our customers. As they become aware of the tools available to automate accounting, they are going to ask for different capabilities from accountants.

Today people understand that a lot of the tasks that required manual effort are now done by computers. They expect to pay specialists for their expertise and their ability to use the best technology, not for an hour of data entry. Without deciding to be, our culture and economy is becoming more results-based and less cost-based.

Efficiency

Clients see their personal banking and investments get more efficient. So why do their business finances still take so much effort? Messing with paper receipts, emailing spreadsheets back and forth, calling you to find out their ledger balance. It is starting to look more archaic every day.

Smarts

Your small and medium sized companies are seeing that the tools the “big guys” have been using for years are more and more available to them. They want good business intelligence, instant feedback, and real time data. They know it is possible. Their phone can tell them how many miles they walked today while reading breaking Hollywood news. Why can’t they get their cash flow figures too?

Some will know the phrase “management accounting” and others will not, but their expectation is going beyond monthly financials and a smooth tax experience. They want help figuring out their profitability, their competitiveness, their opportunity.

They are asking you about these insights. What do you say when they ask?

The Challenge: Don’t Be The Stagecoach of Tomorrow

So, the world keeps changing. The tools we use to do business now will be the stagecoach of tomorrow. This is not just about adding some new technologies for your own convenience. The tools you add will change your relationship with customers. They will change your business model.

Which accountants of today are up for the challenge?

Who is refashioning their firms for the expectations of tomorrow’s clients?