(Page Updated on August 14, 2023)
There is no shortage of buzz around the idea of a digital strategy in 2023. Firms are being encouraged on all sides to “embrace digital” as part of their 2024 budgets. It is important to understand why.
Why is Digital Strategy So Important?
Digital is the platform with which accounting firms are competing. Whether websites, email campaigns, or social media, the pandemic accelerated a firm’s ability to communicate across state lines and around the world. We attract prospects, seek talent, and communicate with clients regardless of their location through channels that are more targeted and effective than ever before. In the world of accounting, leaders — like those at Winding River Consulting — are proactively working with firms throughout the world to devise and implement a digital strategy, getting them up to speed and moving ahead towards measurable growth. We have fully embraced its importance and advocate active participation. Here is why.
- “Online” has Become the Primary Business Environment
Digital platforms are the primary environment in which business gets done.
Networking events, sales, industry gatherings: all of it is online, either in-full or in a hybrid arrangement.
This reality impacts accounting firms in a few ways:
- Many businesses are racing to embrace digital-first models, which means that they will have more actual business conducted online. Accounting firms that work with these businesses need to be fully equipped for new dynamics around online operations.
- Businesses search for professional service providers online, and they are willing to have fully remote relationships. For many firms, this creates a new plane of possibilities. It means that firms are no longer limited by geography and can expand capabilities, which we are seeing happen in CAS and niche-service line development.
- Talented individuals showcase their availability and search for jobs online. Human resources is able to operate remotely. People will search for and vet opportunities online. This means a compelling online presence is essential to attracting top talent.
- It is a Vital Frontier for Growth
The business case for a digital strategy is clear. According to the Brookings Institute, digital technology is shifting economic paradigms, reshaping markets, and accelerating growth. But analysts at Brookings also acknowledge that “To realize the promise of today’s smart machines, policies need to be smarter too.”
Building frameworks that catalyze growth through digital is an essential task, and one that is achieved with a digital strategy.
It’s Not Enough to Go High-Tech
Embracing technology is not the same as creating a digital strategy. Machines and systems are still only as smart as the people who use them.
First, firms must build a digital culture for adoption, but that should be seen as digital in its infancy. Maturity will occur as digital strategy shapes business decisions, thinking, and tactics in the long run.
Firms that are making big investments in digital see this horizon line, and are willing to forge a path toward it.
Fight the Fight: Digital Strategy & Growth
Researchers at McKinsey predicted four fights business leaders would have to win to overcome hesitancy around digital adoption:
- Fighting ignorance, mostly at the senior executive level, and building fluency. In some areas, this battle is still being fought as digital adoption lags in some firms and industries.
- Fighting fear, recognizing the stakes on the table and challenges of sustaining change.
- Fighting guesswork, which has subsided some since this article was written — digital strategy is less and less a leap in the dark and more an embracing of what we know works in today’s markets.
- Fighting diffusion — “Effective strategy requires focus.” Businesses that haven’t allocated enough time, energy, and resources to the implementation of digital strategies will find interest and energy waning.
Where is your firm in the journey toward digital transformation? A digital strategy is the only way to get the results you want and be a firm with a clear purpose headed into a digital-first future.
If your digital strategy is lacking, or doesn’t exist at all, we can help.
The team at Winding River Consulting is leading the charge to create digital progress in the world of accounting. Connect with us to learn more.