3 Lessons Amazon's Digital Transformation Can Teach Accounting and Financial Services Firms
In the past few months, the world has had to drastically adopt new ways of doing business thanks to the global health crisis. While many companies have now grown accustomed to working with tools like Zoom and cloud-based collaboration platforms, there are still a few industries that have yet to fully implement the required digital transformation to grow their business in the coming years.
The accounting and financial services industries, in particular, are typically slower at embracing new technologies and processes. Due to the numerous regulations governing them, compliance and legal teams tend to move slowly when their organizations face circumstances that force them to adapt quickly because of potential problems that may arise in the future.
However, if accounting and financial firms expect to survive and thrive in this economy, they will have to accelerate their digital transformation. History has shown us that companies can achieve major operational and organizational leaps by borrowing and implementing ideas and processes from unrelated companies and industries.
Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon) is an example of a company that has performed exceptionally well during the pandemic. This success was possible due to their many investments, first among them being the digital transformation of their business over the past twenty years. Here are three lessons accounting and financial firms can learn from Amazon if they want to continue to grow in the coming years.
Use technology to unlock hidden revenue streams
One of the main reasons Amazon's competitors love to hate them is that the company has perfected using technology to generate revenue in creative and sustainable ways. From starting as an online bookseller, Amazon has evolved through long-term strategic planning and ruthless execution into a full-stack technology company with business lines that operate in cloud computing, logistics, financial technology, and multimedia industries.
Amazon can comfortably operate in multiple industries because it has stuck to its primary mission of being 110% customer-obsessed. This fanatical devotion to their customers has helped them build a technology-driven business that offers products and services that have helped grow their revenue streams.
Accounting firms can replicate this strategy by carefully studying the new challenges their clients face and offering technology services and products to help their clients adapt and thrive in a new business environment. The effect of these hurdles might mean moving away from only offering traditional accounting services like audit and tax advisory to more creative services like technology-focused business coaching, virtual CFO services, productized subscription services, software as a service product, and more.
Market your knowledge
Amazon currently operates in approximately fifteen countries, but they ship products to over one hundred countries. Their value proposition and brand awareness are so strong that customers automatically assume that they can find any product first on Amazon before they have to look elsewhere.
This is a characteristic unique to very few companies with excellent marketing practices from a marketing perspective. Amazon's universal appeal indicates that the company has spent a long time aggressively marketing themselves to the point they can comfortably own the moniker of being "the everything store."
Accounting and Financial firms are typically not quite as aggressive in their sales and marketing. That is because these firms believe that their credentials, reputation, and years of experience in the industry are enough to generate word of mouth leads and referrals.
With the global health crisis eliminating in-person conferences and networking events for the foreseeable future, accounting and finance executives have to be more aggressive in their marketing if they want to reach the millions of businesses that need their help right now.
A great way to accomplish this is by doubling down on digital marketing. Accounting firms need to start creating and sharing content to help potential clients solve some of their current challenges. From creating educational podcasts, virtual summits, and training, to writing engaging articles and case studies, content marketing can be a great way to build brand awareness and reinforce your value proposition.
For example, with only a few days to the start of a new administration, business owners are anxious to know how they can prepare for the tax changes that will be implemented by president-elect Joe Biden. Accounting firms can have their senior executives create bite-sized educational content that addresses immediate concerns. As a direct result, they'll position themselves as helpful experts that can guide clients through these difficult times.
Niche down to achieve explosive growth
As a direct result of the global health crisis, the world has become more comfortable operating in a remote-only environment. This phenomenon has created a tremendous opportunity for accounting and financial firms to make a name for themselves by tailoring their products and services to serve a particular client.
Since geographic restrictions are no longer a hindrance to business growth, firms can conceivably target clients all over the country and quite possibly around the world. By serving a specific industry or client type, you can better understand the client's needs, which will help your organization create targeted solutions and repeatable processes to help similar clients.
Jeff Bezos implemented this same strategy at Amazon when he launched the company in 1994. When Jeff started the company, he only focused on selling books online and developed it into the world's largest bookstore within a few short years. As Amazon scaled their infrastructure and operations to procure, market, and distribute books efficiently, it gradually added more products.
The company would not have achieved rapid growth if they didn't take their time to focus on getting everything right with their first product before moving on to others.
Accounting and financial firms have a unique opportunity to determine who they want to serve in this new remote-first world. By specializing in helping just one type of client, they can quickly gain market share in their chosen industry, develop a deeper understanding of the clients' needs, and implement high-profit margin productized services at minimal costs.