There’s a cartoon that did the rounds on Reddit recently. In it, one dinosaur says to the other: “Paul, did you fax those contracts back to the office?” The other replies: “Dave, we’re dinosaurs. We don’t have a fax. Or contracts. Or an office.”
Funny. Of course an extinct species can’t conceptualise abstract ideas. And faxes! Who sends faxes anymore?
The answer is interesting. It would appear that accountants and lawyers still send faxes. We work in a sector that thinks still it’s OK to include a fax number in email sign-offs. Don’t believe me? Check your files. I even have one business card from a lawyer that informs me of a facsimile number I can use.
I’m not even joking.
This raises wider questions about where we are as a sector. Why are so many of us reluctant to embrace change?
Of course, not everybody remains content with the grey status quo. Take current approaches to cloud-based systems – a market where revenues are expected to hit $210bn by 2016. Many mid-tier firms have embraced the relevant technology solution and use it as their entire means of making money.
Some forward-thinking firms are also moving to cloud accounting packages, taking the plunge to transfer existing clients to the new system.
The real innovators recognise that the time this transformation provides allows them to have many more commercial conversations with their clients. They can have proactive discussions about future obstacles and opportunities: “In six months you’ll need to think about X. Let’s meet and talk about the best strategy.”
And it’s not just mid-tier firms. KPMG recently stepped into cloud accounting fray with a £40m investment in their Enterprise programme. As Iain Moffat said in a recent BDLN interview:
“Companies are growing more quickly, their lifecycles are getting shorter, digital technology is improving exponentially and client sophistication is increasing. We could do nothing, we could react, or we could lead. We chose option three: to lead, to get ahead of the game and to invest in strategic initiatives.”
In a market where everyone shouts about being an innovator (and so often aren’t) it’s good to see that firms both large and small have the appetite to back up words with actions.
Other firms are disrupting the market with approaches that defy tradition. We’ve seen accountants experiment with virtual offices, lawyers switching to fixed fees and firms offering ‘unlimited’ holiday allowances. PKF Cooper Parry even built an entire new office space to encapsulate their world view. As CEO Ade Cooper told the BDLN: “The office has also succeeded in making us stand out from the crowd. People who visit are returning to their workplaces saying PFK Cooper Parry has raised the bar.”
The possibilities and opportunities that stem from daring to be different are immense. We can all do more to welcome new approaches in our businesses. We can embrace technology the way our clients are. Be less grey, less formal, less normal.
Imagine that. A world of potential where, like the dinosaurs, we wouldn’t need a fax. Or contracts. Or an office…