Roger Guest Entry: Automation and human synergy

November 7th, 2018

This should not come as a surprise, but at Roger, we are all about automation. Any industry has tedious, manual tasks that require repetition of the same steps over and over. With the technologies now available, a great deal of these tasks can be automated.

We hear about automation, AI, and robots on a daily basis but at Roger, we are not for automation just for its own sake. The real magic of automation does not lie in the automation tool itself. Instead, it is the synergy between the automation tool and the human. That can really make an impact for businesses and their bottom lines.

 

Automation tools

One should not view automation tools as problem-solvers in their own right that make human labor redundant. Instead, they should offer an opportunity for human employees to release resources that have traditionally been earmarked for manual tasks. Furthermore. these resources must add new value to the company and the company’s customers.

This is especially true in the accounting industry where small and medium-sized companies and their accountants are starting to open their eyes to the opportunities for automation. This progress is characterized both by the growing digitalization of companies’ own, internal work processes and the tools at the accountant’s disposal.

Users in this industry, notorious for its amount of tedious, manual data entry tasks, are not only saving time. They are also experiencing significantly fewer mistakes and errors in their accounting.

On average, our users save around 70% of the time. Hours that they previously spent on manual accounts payable tasks like data entry and approval processes. In total, this adds up to a significant amount of time that enables the accountant to dedicate their skills and knowledge to offer other services that cannot be automated. Nevertheless, tasks which directly helps clients with advice that impacts their revenue and costs.

Transforming the accountant

In other words, automation does not only transform the specific task and how it fits into the accountant’s workflow. It also contributes to transforming the responsibilities and opportunities of the professional by opening up new areas for the accountant.

Manual tasks like typing do not utilize all of the accountant’s professional skills and knowledge. And maybe it does not require any unique competencies at all. By leaving these tasks to digital tools, the accountant can provide clients with the full extent of their professional skills. The accountant no longer has to only sell their hours. They also have to sell their training, experience, and analysis based on the numbers they look at every day.

This means that the role of the accountant is becoming broader in scope and more advisory in practice. The accountant is already a competent advisor in matters such as budgeting, insurance, and taxes. They can also assist their customers more broadly in navigating the jungle of new digital solutions, digitalization of data, and tech lingo like OCR, machine-learning, and cloud-based.

For the client, this means the accountant turns into a whole new resource and potentially an active player in developing the client’s business. On the contrary, for the accountant, it means they have to change their perspective on what they offer. That also affects their business model, and how they view their clients. The accountant traditionally looks “back in time” to make their clients’ accounts compliant. Now the accountant can direct more attention to the future to view their clients’ needs in a different light.

 

The visionary, integrated accountant

How can the accountant educate the client? How can they support their decision-making, and influence their financial behavior to create value? Also, how can the accountant become more integrated into the client’s company and use their specialized insights to provide strategic counseling? And finally, how can the accountant become an indispensable part of the client’s DNA to provide specialized guidance tailor-made for the client’s particular enterprise and industry?

These are questions – among many others – that are raised by the current wave of automation and at Roger, we strive to support those changes. They may be explicitly concerned with accountants and their clients, but more broadly, we see them as general reflections that apply to many industries affected by “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

Most importantly, we see them as evidence that automation and digitalization do not eradicate the need for qualified, human professionals. Instead, they create new fields of opportunity the professionals are already well-equipped to accommodate and shape to fit their own and their clients’ businesses.