Every week I interview entrepreneurs and experts from around the world to share their big ideas about new forms of value creation and the potential we can unlock when technology augments the unique strengths of people to deliver remarkable impact.
Secret to a better future
I got inspired by the big idea behind Botkeeper; hence I invited CEO Enrico Palmerino to my podcast. We explored what’s inhibiting the accounting industry to transform, and why the combo of blending tech and people in the right way is the secret to a better future. We also discuss Enrico’s vision of what it takes to build a remarkable software business.
“The number of accountants entering the industry stayed flat for the last few years but is down 23% the past year, 75% of the existing accountants are retiring in the next 15 years, and 70% of accountants who leave an accounting job are leaving the industry all together.”
Why did this trigger me? What's the bigger value here?
The statistics Enrico gave here perfectly illustrate what’s happening in the market—and not only the accounting industry: the workforce is shrinking rapidly and if we don’t do anything, we’ll end up with a shortage of people to do the work. It also tells a story about the fact that automation as we have known it up to now is not enough to solve the problem: Incremental change will not be enough. As such we need to solve the workforce problem by embracing new concepts.
We need to raise some tough questions. The very fact people perform certain tasks doesn’t mean they should keep doing so. By taking a step back and redesign jobs, we can find a new balance between what we leave to machines, and where and how we can enable our scarce people to create the most meaningful impact. That’s an outlook worth fighting for—and I applaud for Botkeeper’s devotion to make this a reality in the accounting industry.
What’s the more significant question/opportunity that ARISES?
Obviously, it would help many businesses (and for this example Accounting practices) around the world to solve the problem of people scarcity. We’ve been talking for years about the "war for talent" and it’s just getting worse, not better. Fact is, accounting businesses are not in business to conquer the scarcity problem: They are in business to create value and make a difference.
From my own experience (my time at ERP/Financial application vendor Unit4), I can only conclude that for too long accounting companies have been trying to spend the bulk of their time on service delivery—just to be faced with a reality that 80% of their time is caught up in doing non-value-adding and repetitive admin tasks.
Accounting applications have evolved over time—but the focus has been on solving the wrong problem. The fact that these applications are now available in the cloud, and have a more intuitive user interface is nice, but as we can all see—they're not earth-shaking in their impact because the problem has shifted.
To enable accountants to make the shift from spending 80% of their time on service delivery, we must find that new balance between what we leave to technology, and what to the professionals. As I illustrate many times in my book, The Remarkable Effect, this is achieved by creating a symbiosis of "man and machine"—where the compound effect is a result that’s larger than the sum of its components. Machines will not only free-up accountants time, but also augment them to take the value-adding parts—advising clients, solving problems with clients, etc.—to the next level. And with that growth sets in—not only for the accountant, but also for their clients.
Listen to the big idea behind Botkeeper and why it has the potential to solve the demand/supply gap in the accounting industry, and with that, enable the entire sector to evolve.