Speaking to Accountants Daily, Walker Wayland chair Paul Hilton said the network has devoted “time and money” on its digital focus this financial year, hoping to better understand the processes of successful firms.
“We're looking at owning our own data and then with that data how we can mine that to assist with business improvements both with clients and also business improvement within individual firms within the network,” said Mr Hilton.
“We're doing live benchmarking between firms so that we can have open and honest discussions between firms and how we can improve processes.
“We're going to spend time on what we're trying to get out of our digital side which is data mining and utilising artificial intelligence to have a look at what trends are there so we can gain insights into clients' businesses and even in our practices.”
According to Mr Hilton, all 23 firms within the network have signed up for the benchmarking study, with selected KPIs chosen to be benchmarked against.
“You can then have these discussions within the network of what you are doing well, or what are you changing so you can improve,” said Mr Hilton.
“All of a sudden you are thinking of what's happening in the future, we're not looking in the rear vision mirror. We might be looking back to get the data but it's live data so all of a sudden we can see some trends and ask what things can we change to make sure we take advantage of the trends or stop doing to make sure it doesn't have an effect on us going forward.”
Mr Hilton said that while it was important to utilise technology and data, he was also conscious of the need to upskill their business advisory skill set to build on their increased insight.
“It's on both sides for client engagement and practice improvement. You can't just have a digital focus but you need to ask what business advisory skills we need to improve on to be able to build better relationships with our clients,” he said.
“There are so many things that are happening in the industry and if we don't have a mindset that looks at it as great opportunities, we will feel threatened and we won't be able to grasp those opportunities.”