Here our Managing Partner, Neil Relph discusses five challenges that have been emerging and which may take shape in 2018.
If you have any questions we will be happy to discuss your specific challenges and how our advisory and support services can assist your business.
1. Data security to remain a primary concern
With several high profile cases coming to the forefront in 2017, the threat of cybercrime is now perhaps the single largest risk for all businesses, both large and small. With criminals developing ever more complex methods to gain access and control of systems, businesses are beginning to invest more in their defences. In 2018 we can expect to see increased spending in IT systems infrastructure and upgrades, staff training and the use of security experts.
Furthermore, with GDPR set to be enforced from 25 May 2018, businesses will need to ensure that they have all their ‘ducks in a row’ in terms of data processes and policies to meet more stringent requirements. The threat of significant fines for non-compliance will add to the pressure for businesses to be ready for May.
2. Data analytics to get smarter
We’ve been talking about big data for a number of years now, but data analytical tools are beginning to become embedded in everyday business. Those who are not investing may begin to fall behind their more adventurous competitors, and even the more ‘traditional’ services will be exposed to change.
Take auditing for example, at Rouse we have put in place tools that can test whole populations of data (rather than just a sample) and apply several advanced analytic techniques to provide a more risk focused audit service. Management reporting is also becoming more advanced. For example, we have developed reporting packs for clients which pull in non-financial metrics, such as online client service scores and other variables that are important to management decision making and performance reporting.
Therefore, most businesses will have greater ability to utilise data analytics to improve performance, efficiency or client service, but they must still consider the GDPR changes mentioned above.
3. Quest for efficiency will drive technology
With rising inflation and Brexit looming, forward business planning may become more difficult. Businesses will need to ensure that they remain efficient to ride out any temporary swings in consumer confidence. You can download our Brexit Business Checklist with points to assist with your planning.
The drive for increased efficiency will also encourage further investments in automation and AI. With chatbot technology becoming more accessible for small businesses this may provide the ability to improve customer service, provide an engaging experience and reduce service costs.
We are certainly seeing a drive for more efficiency in data processing. Our team are frequently advising clients on apps and plugins for cloud accounting systems to automate and make data entry more efficient.
4. Tax going digital
Whilst the Government has delayed their ‘Making Tax Digital’ plans until 2019 it is likely that there will be some testing in 2018 with selected businesses. Expect at the very least next year to see more communication about the practicalities and expectations for digital record keeping before it becomes a mandatory obligation. We will continue to report on these developments and how we can assist clients.
5. Flexible working for your staff
Attracting and retaining a skilled workforce looks set once again be a key issue across many industry verticals. Therefore, businesses may turn their attention to how they attract and engage with new staff, in particular millennials. Home-workers and free-lancers will also be pursued by flexible, home and cloud-based working environments. Businesses will need to stay agile to address the new challenges that they may face.
If you would like to discuss your challenges for 2018 and the support we can provide for your business contact our team today.