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How Business Managers Can Leverage Technology to Future Proof Your Practice

Published

February 14, 2024

Business Managers have their hands full. You manage a demanding clientele whose needs are constantly changing. You have changes in technology, tax regulation and the business banking environment just to name a few challenges thrown your way.

How can you manage your current business while preparing for the needs of tomorrow? What will even be my needs in the future?

In this blog post we break down some of the challenges business managers face and how they can use technology to better manage these challenges today and thrive in the future by better leveraging technology.

What will not change?

It’s difficult to predict the future. The further you go out you go, the harder it can become to predict. This is where it may be worth taking a page from Amazon’s strategic planning playbook. Amazon, instead of trying to predict what will change in the future, focuses on what will Not change in the future.

For example, they know their clients will still want low prices and quick shipping and will build business plans around these key aspects. Business Managers can do the same.

You know that your employees will be your most important asset and that it will be just as difficult to attract and retain outstanding employees as it is today. You also know that your workforce will also continue to be your biggest expense. 

 You know that your client's professional and personal lives will continue to become more complex. They will have more and diverse revenue streams and will be involved in more business ventures than ever before. They are also going to heavily use and rely on their mobile devices, expecting easy and immediate access to information.

Unfortunately, the other trend you are going to see is that bad actors are going to continue to become more sophisticated. Your client is a public figure, which means that they will likely be targeted. This is not an if, but when type situation.  

 

The Future is Here

William Gibson said that “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed”, meaning that before advances in technology become mainstream they are available beforehand in certain niches. This has never been truer than today.

One of the biggest trends in technology in the past year has been Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI has been in development for decades, but the mainstream media has only recently picked up on it because of the introduction of ChatGPT. As the saying goes, the future is here, but not every vendor or firm is able to take advantage of the full power of AI in a secure and meaningful way yet.

Other trends such as outsourcing and focusing on client experience (CX) have been trending for years, but have faced a tipping point with business managers. Since COVID, firms can no longer ignore the digital experience they provide their clients. The consumerization of IT has changed their expectations. It’s no longer okay to just provide a PDF statement at the end of the month. Clients want instant access to information, and they want it on the phone. Every day they use products from Google, Amazon, Mint and other products. They are simple to use, elegant and give them the information they want when they want it. They want and expect the same from their business manager.

There are many benefits to business managers, as well with your clients, in providing them with a digital experience. There is the ability for greater self-service for more routine inquiries and requests. You can also provide a means for your clients to share information in a secure manner.  

One of the biggest areas where technology has changed is with the advent of application programming interfaces (APIs). Open systems and open platforms give firms more options and choice. No longer do business managers need to be tied into a specific technology platform because you need access to a specific banking interface. With APIs business managers can separate their banking decisions from their technology decisions. Let’s face it, business managers are going to need to develop multiple banking relationships going forward in order to reduce operational risk. You need a technology platform that supports your business decisions, not the other way around.

APIs are a much more secure way to integrate. There is a robust authentication process and there isn't this digital gas that is left over when you have to import\export files to get data from one system to another.

Open platforms let you integrate with a data aggregator that can bring in third party bank data as well as third party credit card data. As much as you would like your clients to use one bank and one specific credit card, the reality of the situation is that they are going to use multiple banks and have a credit card that gives them the rewards they choose. This should not create huge operational issues for firms as the technology to solve these problems is readily available today.

Finally the biggest change of them all is artificial intelligence (AI). This is the biggest trend and will cause the biggest changes to the business management community and how they do business.

AI is not going to replace accountants. AI however will replace accountants (and business managers) that are not using AI.  One of the biggest ways, and one that is readily available today, is that it eliminates that low first mile task such as manually inputting invoice data and kicking off the accounts payable process. In the past OCR technology was not reliable enough, but AI has been trained on millions of pieces of data making it much more reliable. So much information is stuck in documents. This unstructured data can now be locked with AI.

It’s not just accountants that will benefit from AI. Business Managers and partner level executives will be able to come up to speed much more quickly with new clients. Entertainers have lots of different and complex contracts. AI can ingest these documents and summarize this information for you very quickly.

Large language models (LLM) will enable AI to become an interface to more complex technologies such as business intelligence tools. Without having to know how to create or run reports, AI will enable partners to run complex reports and create custom queries.

 

Tomorrow is Here

Business managers need to view technology as a strategic asset. One that helps your firm meet the challenges of today and protects your business from the challenges of tomorrow. Don’t settle for legacy software. Your firm’s legacy is too important not to be in a position where you are doing the best by your employees and clients by being on a modern technology platform. These capabilities exist today and firms should investigate how to incorporate these key capabilities into their practice.

 

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