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Accountants lead the way in the cloud

James Ainsworth

In a recent Alternative Hangout session for accountants, familiar faces and new shared their journey and the business benefits of taking a considered approach to knowledge work. 

The takeaways from the event run by Alternative Events (Making Knowledge Work - Unlocking and Leveraging Organisational Knowledge to Deliver Successful Outcomes) can be unified in the requirement for a cloud-based platform solution to deliver upon the documentation and email management requirements of accountancy professionals: 

  1. The key to unlocking organisational knowledge starts with a powerful, value‐creating, search functionality that prioritises context. 
  2. To unlock value out of data, a Document Management System must enable secure sharing and then look to turn data into an intelligent system that feeds back information. 
  3. Effective knowledge unlocking and collaboration also require a security system that immediately alerts and restricts upon threat detection. 

The accountancy industry was early and eager in moving to the cloud, with accountancy software itself being a staple SaaS offering for small and medium business enterprises and large multi-national organisations alike. Accountants have realised the benefits of the cloud and are reaping the rewards of their platform of choice. According to Xero, as far back in tech years as 2017, companies that have all of their clients in the cloud attract new ones at five times the rate of those who don’t. 

As is often the case, when it comes to technology investments, where the big four of Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC go, the industry follows.  

Therefore, it is no surprise that whilst the clients of accountants are at ease in the cloud, accountancy firms themselves are also reaching for the cloud in how they securely store, organise, and retrieve their documentation and email―their business-critical knowledge.  


Collaboration challenges

The act of moving to the cloud is often intrinsically linked with the digital transformation conversation, something which came up in this hangout. Digital transformation is an ongoing pursuit of many an industry and sector – accountancy is certainly not immune to the requirement to disrupt or be disrupted.  

And it would be remiss not to mention the disruption caused by the devastating global pandemic itself. As we thankfully come out the other side vaccinated and with lockdown restrictions easing, the shift back to the office or a hybrid of home and office way of working will further test collaboration capabilities.

The last year has stress-tested (and then some) how far technology can go to keep us collaborative. Still, there are also emerging uses of AI technology in identifying expertise or even otherwise ignored related documents within intelligent document management systems that will change the way we work forever. We lost the face-to-face, the watercooler moments that mattered. Still, we gained the discovery of talent and subject matter experts elsewhere in our organisations through the intelligent analytics of our knowledge―who uses what, how often, and the outcome. 

Making the business case for moving to the cloud

EFFICIENCY: Removing the administrative burden of managing on-premise systems  

AGILITY: The ability to access new features, functionality, and security protections quickly  

FUNCTIONALITY: Delivering key capabilities and user experience as on-premise systems, in and out of the office.  

PRIORITISATION: Refocusing IT personnel on more strategic high-value efforts  

COST: Lower total cost of ownership and improved cost predictability


Unlocking knowledge to generate better business outcomes

The best way to think about the opportunity of the cloud is in terms of what business outcomes it will drive. Accounting firms strive to reduce costs and enhance client service against a backdrop of increasing regulations and an explosion of content. Effectively organising and leveraging client work product is essential to cultivate better customer relationships and deliver more responsive service. These are the business outcomes of making knowledge work. As always, I would be only too happy to share with you how iManage is helping accounting firms around the globe leverage their knowledge. 

Our thanks to Alternative Hangouts for running the session. You can view the summary of the Professional Services session on our blog. In the meantime, for further resources and information about making the move to the cloud, please explore the recommended resources below. 


About the author

James Ainsworth