The term “Professional Services” covers a wide range of activities and business sectors.
We discuss Legal, Accountancy and Marketing Services in detail elsewhere. Click on the appropriate link if you’re in one of these sectors. Read on if you’re in another professional services firm such as business consultancy or coaching, financial investment or insurance advice, property sales or management, architecture, design, structural engineering and surveying, office fit-out and design or anything similar.
In general you’re providing professional advice and help. You may be actually doing work for a client, or telling them and training them how to do something themselves.
Professional services companies need to understand the digital transformation of their customers’ businesses as well as understanding how to leverage new technologies to transform their own services.
Anders Elbak, IDC Analyst, in Digital transformation in the professional services industry – a white paper, May 2016
You can, and should, embrace digital technology and Digital Transformation to effect a significant improvement in your business. For many people, the term “Digital Transformation” implies a complete disruption of their business, an overnight change to everything they do and the way they do it. At Cameo Innovations we think this puts many organisations off from even starting to consider what today’s digital technology could do to improve their business.
We approach this in a different way; we call it Digital Evolution – a step-by-step set of discrete, incremental changes each of which delivers real business benefits for a defined cost, and each building upon the previous steps to ultimately result in the digital transformation of the business. It’s not only more palatable for management to look at each step as a separate project, and cost centre, it’s also easier for the team to adopt and embed one change at a time, rather than everything changing all at once.
You’ll only see the real business benefits if the transformation is adopted by everyone, at all levels of the business, and it’s embedded in their day-to-day activities; we know from our extensive experience of implementing change projects that this is most effectively achieved by introducing change gradually and embedding each new process or system.
Real tangible benefits
The benefits of embracing Digital Evolution can be significant. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in a recent publication on digital transformation described a professional services practice of 500 fee-earners that opted to begin its digital transformation by digitising its risk management and reporting process. The results were significant, with measurable benefits including:
- Freeing up 20% of executive time
- Time and efficiency gains of 33% compared to original budget
Where to start
Things you should consider as part of a digital evolution strategy include:
- Cloud-centric computing – moving communications, processes and file and data storage into the cloud. This can improve collaboration and client communication, as well as save time and improve security. It can also improve business resilience in the event of a disaster such as a fire or terrorist attack denying access to premises or services.
- Mobile device management – having core business apps and data access on mobiles devices can enhance productivity by ensuring that staff on the road or on client-site can continue to work and bill time, as well as being reachable by colleagues and clients. However it goes hand-in-hand with mobile device security to ensure that if any device is lost or stolen the data on it is inaccessible or erased. This can also embrace a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy to enable staff to use their own phones and tablets as well as company-owned devices.
- Automation of manual tasks and procedures. Administrative tasks such as renewing anti-money-laundering identity documents take up valuable resources. Many of these can be fully or partially automated and located in the cloud, releasing costly resources for more productive and even revenue-generating tasks.
- GDPR compliance – many professional services firms are already fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (DPA). In which case GDPR becomes an enhancement and migration exercise rather than a major data architecture redesign project. But there are differences in philosophy – GDPR assumes that a data breach will happen, and it encourages you to implement procedures, process, training, systems and security to minimise the impact of any data breach both to your business and to the individuals affected.
- Enterprise Resource Planning – ERP systems were originally implemented to streamline manufacturing processes, but they’re increasingly applicable in professional services to improve and benchmark availability, performance, billing and profitability. One of the major benefits of using cloud systems is that even the smallest business can, for relatively little cost, access and use the same ERP systems as are in use at major global organisations – they pay only for the services and number of licenses that they use and can increase them or turn them off at any point.
So if you think your professional services business might benefit from a review of its digital strategy then contact us.
We’ll meet you, without any obligation; we’ll find out about your business and how it works, and propose how you could embrace Digital Evolution to improve it. We promise we’ll be honest with you – if, after our initial meeting, we don’t think Digital Evolution could increase your revenues or profitability, reduce your costs or improve your regulatory compliance then we’ll say so.