What role can technology play across the company given the diversity of generations and geographic dispersion among employees?
Introduction to Technology
For many businesses, employees fall all along the generational spectrum. Management and staff are comprised of Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. Each group has very different context for workplace technology. Baby Boomers saw application software move from mainframes to the desktop. Millennials have never been without a smart phone.
There’s always the expectation for technology to become more powerful – early versions evolve enhanced with increased features and functionality. But actually it is technology’s affordability and intuitive design that have resulted in the widespread access and use. While Baby Boomers can remember receiving manuals inches thick with the applications diskettes (later CDs), Millennials expect to download an app that is so intuitive and so easy to use there is no need for a manual. There’s not even a desire for a printed instruction manual. If they need help, they do a quick search on YouTube.
Enter the Cloud
Another key component to technology accessibility is cloud deployment and essentially unlimited computing power. With applications deployed from the cloud, there’s no more need for a stack of servers in the closet. Organizations from coast to coast and border to border have embraced the significant cost savings that come with Software as a Service (SaaS) delivered from the cloud – freeing them from sinking more and more capital in computer hardware and infrastructure.
From Binges to Budgets
The cloud is not simply a platform for enjoying streaming services like Netflix, online shopping from Amazon, and online banking that allows you to go paperless when paying your bills.
Any organization that is preparing to replace legacy accounting systems has “cloud” at the top of the evaluation checklist. And, for good reason. The best cloud accounting solution offers robust security - in fact, multiple levels of security that would be cost-prohibitive for the average company to replicate.
Cloud deployment also means that as long as a device (desktop, laptop, smart phone) has a browser and access to the internet, it doesn’t matter if one person is using a Mac and in the next cubicle her co-worker is using a PC and the CFO is traveling from Houston headquarters to the Dallas regional office and is using his smart phone.
Welcome to the World of Optimal Collaboration
The various emerging technologies are fueling a new age of optimal collaboration. This collaboration includes connecting geographically dispersed colleagues; customer service brought a new level through real-time information; and powerful, searchable knowledge bases.
Knowledge-bases have been around for a long time but didn’t provide an ideal user experience. Have you visited Wikipedia lately? On that day you and around 13.29 million other visitors to the website took advantage of one of the largest knowledge-bases in the world. Yes! It is estimated that Wikipedia receive over 13 million unique visitors every day.
More and more business applications are enabling the ability to create smaller, company or product- specific knowledgebases that leverages the collective expertise of employee, past and present. Customers turn to company-hosted online communities and other platforms to share their collective wisdom on products and services.
Smart, fast, and effective
While the self-help of knowledge-bases is great, the ability to put real time information into the hands of customer-facing staff is a powerful boost to customer satisfaction. Consultants can keep customers apprised on project and task list progress. Auditors can access accounting information in real time from the client’s financial reporting dashboards – without having hunker down in an empty office or occupy a much-needed conference room for weeks on end. All questions, request, and fulfillment of request can happen within the system.
Collaboration without borders
Whether working from home, working across the building or working across the country, technology has strengthened the connection between team member that are geographically dispersed.
The first wave included conference calls and messaging. Next came collaboration tools like Google Drive that allowed sharing documents. Today, accounting applications for growing and emerging businesses have built in capabilities for collaboration within the system. These collaboration tools are handy in dealing with non-routine transactions. They allow team members to receive clarification on policies, request missing information, get speedy resolution to exception and not lose precious time playing phone tag or scrolling through long email threads.
Imagine: finance, sales and services teams can communicate right within the financial accounting system. Today’s modern cloud accounting will allow communication and notation on specific journal entries, accounts, projects, invoices, purchase requisitions, to name just a few.
Empowered to do their best
Whether Baby Boomer or Millennial, today’s technology is easy to adopt. Intuitive design and user interfaces shorten the learning curve resulting in more proficient team members. Armed with real time information and collaboration tools means that Millennials and Baby Boomers alike will enjoy a new level of professional fulfillment and job satisfaction.
This is an article from Houston CPA Society's Online Magazine called the Forum. Read the full magazine here.
About the authors:
Dan Krishman, MBA is Sage Intacct Practice Manager for Kerr Consulting.
Official Houston CPA Society’s Strategic Partner. Visit Kerr Consulting’s website for more information.