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Is It Time For Independent Accounting Practitioners To Become Digital Consultants?

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Big time consulting is undergoing a shift in focus. For the past few years, major cunsulting firms have been launching or acquiring digital consulting divisions. What was originally an infatuation with web design and products has now turned into a full out love affair with digital services.

 

Web design firms are being acquired by large accounting firms at a frenzied pace. In 2012, Deloitte acquired Ubermind, and then in 2013, acquired Banyan Branch. Around the same time, PwC was acquiring BGT, a digital creative consultancy, while Accenture was grabbing Fjord, a web design firm.

Next, in 2014, McKinsey bought Agiliti, the Boston Consulting Group acquired Strategic & Creative, an Australian firm, KPMG bought Cynergy, and it keeps on going.

These acquisitions, away from the firms core practice of audit, is giving way to new business, focusing on the buzz words of customer experience and product innovation, leading the firms into the marketing and advertising businesses as more traditional advertising agencies stumble and fail.

Why are firms which are basically traditional accounting and audit firms moving into the digital space?

It’s simple. As products become designed more to fit the model of “Form follows function,” data is being called upon to identify outliers to needs and markets, and these firms are well positioned to analyze and understand the data that marketers have accumulated.

Customer relationship management software that businesses installed as far back as a couple of decades ago has quietly been accumulating data about their customers, and the traditional number crunchers at accounting and auditing firms are well versed in the ability to analyze and understand data.

Data that the more ephemeral oriented marketing and advertising firms cannot understand.

Is this a function that can be brought into the local market?

Absolutely, and it is being done every day, in a clumsy manner by a new wave of “Internet Marketing” specialists. Folks who tout the road to riches for the everyman is marketing online services to offline clients.

Your clients.

So far, I’ve only seen one Practice Builder Publishing member sense this shift in the market, and take advantage of the potential, taking advantage of the over 700 clients he serves to focus on online marketing data collection and advice to small and medium businesses in his market.

I recently noticed an article in Accounting Today that was talking about how accounting firms with knowledge and experience of HR benefits should consider offering services in that field. I love it when the “Big Boys” get into preaching about a topic I’ve been pushing for several years. Of course it makes me feel good.

For several years I suggested to accountants who are offering payroll services that they should be moving into the HR and benefits administration field. Now, I’m adding to that by suggesting digital services for small and medium size local businesses, that the industry is changing, and that practitioners who want to succeed and thrive need to become more flexible in their thinking, and consider fields that they did not directly study in school.


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Best to you and yours,

kirks-sig

 

Kirk

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