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Big business opportunities in finance for channel partners as accountants look for more tech

Channel StrategyCloudManaged Services

The IT channel can meet the unique needs of any industry vertical as they embrace digital transformation, but the financial sector offers a big opportunity for partners and solution providers.

More than two-thirds of accountants are looking into automation, cloud, and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help reduce repetitive tasks and become more efficient, according to new research by Sage, a cloud businesses management solution provider.

The report, titled “The Practice of Now”, surveyed 3000 accountants across the UK, US, Canada, Brazil, Spain, France, Australia, and Ireland. With 42 per cent of clients expecting their accountant to provide business advice, accounting professionals are looking for ways to lighten their administrative load and free up more time so they can provide the valuable consulting and advice to clients that they are asking for.

Almost 67 per cent saying efficiency and time savings are driving them to adopt new tech. Most businesses, on average, lose around five per cent of work time to such tasks, which can result in thousands and even millions of dollars in lost productivity, according to another report by Sage, “Sweat the Small Stuff”, which was published in Sept. 2017.

More than half (66 per cent) of accountants say they would invest in AI to automate time-consuming tasks, and 67 per cent believe that cloud technology can make their businesses more successful.

“Partners maybe expect accountants to be a little behind on adopting technology, but this report should come to life for them because it proves accountants aren’t actually behind,” Jennifer Warawa, executive vice president of partners, accountants, and alliances at Sage, tells CDN. “A lot of them are embracing off-premise cloud technology because it improves collaboration and some of the services they offer, and automation through AI can help alleviate some administrative duties. [Channel partners] need to catch up and figure out how to take advantage of the big business opportunities for tech-related spending in the accounting sector.”

Reducing the number of hours dedicated to daily administrate work is key. In Canada, 62 per cent of accountants are willing to invest in technology to automate repetitive tasks that they currently manage manually, and almost half (47.2 per cent) believe that AI-enabled tools like chatbots and smart assistants will improve their business.

“New technology gives accountants an opportunity to be more efficient, and this in itself is a business opportunity for channel partners. What are the tech solutions that can help alleviate administrative burdens in, for example, human resources or customer service? We encourage channel partners to look into some of these areas that are particularly admin-heavy,” Warawa says.

She mentions, however, that there is a lack of soft skills and understanding of technology on the accountant side, and partners will need to fill that void.

“With all of these options, what we’re seeing from accountants is their need to have somebody explain the technology side. Just as their customers are coming to them asking questions about various new banking tech like apps, accountants have those same questions for the channel. There’s also a lot more onus on the partner to be able to make recommendations about multiple apps, products, and services, when they’re used to maybe just recommending one solution,” the executive concludes.