Tech Insights with Accounting Leaders: Tony Sacre, CEO, Bentleys

1.     2020 delivered more than its fair share of challenges, but thinking technology, what were you most grateful for?

From a technology perspective, I think it would come as no surprise that the application I am most grateful for is Teams (or Zoom, any video conferencing capability really). As a people business, you like to be in front of your clients as often as you can. As people leaders, and as Boards, that face to face communication is important. When COVID first hit, we were very well placed to be able to host weekly Board meetings via Teams, and indeed our local practices also managed their businesses with staff and clients remotely.

To have been in a position to be able to execute our communications in this manner has meant that our move to lockdown was as smooth as one could have expected. Naturally, there was a lot of angst and concern amongst clients and staff, but having the facility to be able to hold ‘virtual’ discussions meant that a significant degree of the ‘stress of the unknown’ was removed.

Emails, phone calls, memo’s are great, but they can’t replace the ‘context’ one gets from seeing the person/people they are talking to. As social creatures, we need this context, and for us at Bentleys, Teams really facilitated this.

2.     From a tech perspective, what do you believe is the greatest issue facing the accounting industry right now?

I feel that one of the biggest challenges we all face, as an industry, is the push to ‘cloud’ environments. In principle, moving to the cloud is great.

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The inherent risks though are very real. The risks pertain to issues around identity management, cyber security and of course the integrity and consistency of data. This is especially the case now, as not all systems integrate neatly.

What’s happening is that as the sheer volume of systems needed in operating a practice grow, there is an ever growing challenge of controlling this.

3.     What’s the number 1 tech solution on your wish list?

I think the obvious wish list, given my answer to your earlier question, is that of facilitating a full system integration of the above and having a complete identity management solution in place.

If I had one other choice, it would be for deeper analytics and reporting tools.

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