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The Importance of a Digital Culture to Digital Transformation

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Firms that don’t embrace digital transformation don’t just risk being left behind – they will be left behind. If your firm wants to remain competitive in the years to come, embracing digital technologies, processes, and culture is non-negotiable. 

While technology is a key force in any digital transformation, it’s far from the only consideration. Technology is a tool, not a strategy. For firms to fully harness the power of modern accounting technology, they must have a meaningful digital strategy, supported by leaders and employees who embody a digital culture

But what exactly does a digital culture look like, and why is it so important in ensuring a successful digital transformation? In this briefing, we answer these questions, providing accounting leaders with the cultural guidelines they need to ignite a successful pivot to a digital-first strategy. 

What is Digital Culture?

In a digital culture, the leaders and employees of a business buy into using a variety of digital tools and technologies that better the organization. Teams adopt digital platforms to communicate and collaborate, streamlining workflows and making for a more efficient environment for internal and external stakeholders alike. 

Think of digital culture as the relationship between your firm’s employees and your technology. In a positive digital culture, team members actively seek out and embrace new technologies that enhance productivity. In a limited digital culture, employees are reluctant to change, preferring to cling to existing processes. Growth teams might struggle to get feedback from practice leaders, or team members may fail to see the value in investing in digital strategies. 

Want to learn more about digital culture? Watch this short video to learn more about Winding River Consulting’s five principles of digital culture: 

Why Digital Culture is Central to Successful Digital Transformation

Today, the firms shaking up the accounting industry have extremely impactful digital cultures. Just look at the examples of Dark Horse CPA and Hall CPA – two firms whose leaders recently spoke at Winding River Consulting events. 

Both firms operate remotely and actively leverage digital platforms to deliver best-in-class client experiences that have fuelled outsized growth in recent years. The culture of these firms is the embodiment of a digital culture: tech-driven services, advanced digital marketing strategies, individuals that act as digital champions for the brand, and more.

“Our digital presence is our presence.”

– Chase Birky, Co-Founder and CEO of Dark Horse CPAs, speaking at Digital Deep Dive 2023

Built right, a digital culture smooths the path to digital transformation while also delivering a range of other benefits along the way. Let’s take a look at some of the tangible benefits a digital culture unlocks:

1. Stimulates Innovation

Innovation is at the heart of any successful digital transformation. Instead of sticking with established processes, your firm aims to find new, better ways of serving clients. Digital technologies are fundamental to that goal: helping your practitioners improve productivity while providing higher standards of service to your clients. 

In a digital culture, employees feel empowered to experiment with new technologies and processes in service of building a better way of doing business. Leaders must identify digital champions and give these professionals the flexibility to innovate. There might be bumps along the road, but it’s a journey worth taking. 

2. Unlocks Improved Client Experiences

Today, clients expect a digital experience that’s consistent across a variety of different touchpoints: from your firm’s website to meetings with partners. By adopting suitable digital technologies, firms can foster an environment where clients experience seamless service across different practice groups, regions, and engagements. 

That not only enhances client experience, but it boosts client retention too, building increased loyalty that ensures fruitful relationships for years to come. 

3. Fosters a More Effective Working Environment

A digital culture is a more productive, engaged culture. When digital technologies are embraced by employees, collaboration becomes much more effective. Teams can work together seamlessly across different regions, time zones, and even countries. This enhances productivity and also lays the groundwork for firms to embrace outsourcing: a solution tailor-made for the capacity challenges many firms face today. 

In a digital culture, everyone has frictionless access to information. Whether that’s through the creation of real-time digital dashboards or simply by making it easier for employees to share data, this cultural shift promotes agility, strengthening a firm’s ability to remain competitive in the face of changing market conditions. 

4. Promotes Employee Engagement

A firm with a digital culture is more enjoyable to work in than a firm that’s resistant to these changes. In a digital-first firm, employees spend more time on high-impact, interesting tasks, and less time dealing with tedious manual processes. Employees are empowered to think creatively and invest in their personal growth, resulting in increased levels of engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately, loyalty. 

One key step is to build confidence around the LinkedIn profiles of your leaders. By revamping their profiles and creating a winning content strategy, growth teams can leverage the networks of their firm’s leaders to drive new business, elevate key voices, and rally everyone around the digital economy mindset. 

It’s clear to see that firms that embrace digital cultures will attract a higher quality of employee. After all, what ambitious, high-flying CPA wants to go and work for a firm that’s clinging to the past, not investing in the future?

Over time, the team with the best players always wins. For your firm to be successful in years and decades to come, you need ambitious leaders that excel in a digital environment. Embracing digital culture is key to attracting and retaining those leaders. 

Ignite Digital Change with Winding River Consulting

There’s no doubt that a digital culture is fundamental to a successful digital transformation. The behaviors that define a digital culture create an atmosphere that promotes digital transformation, redefining the way that firms operate. 

A digital culture isn’t something that can be built overnight. That’s why, if you haven’t started investing in your firm’s digital future yet, time is of the essence. Changing the behaviors of your practitioners, the way your firm interacts with clients, and your firm’s overall mindset is no light undertaking, but it’s one that’s necessary to thrive in years to come. 

At Winding River Consulting, we’re passionate about helping accounting firms build a more prosperous future. Our industry-leading professional education programs dive deep into a variety of digital culture and transformation issues, giving leaders the tools they need to lead their firms into the next era of our great profession. Beyond that, we also provide a wide range of consulting and advisory services that help firm leaders strategize, execute, and measure meaningful digital transformations. 
Interested in learning more? Contact us today.

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