Digital Transformation seems to be the buzz word for 2019. It’s blowing up social media. Nearly every industry has some form of digital transformation they would like to make within their organizations in the hope to make their jobs easier and upgrading their business to the next level.
But do they have a strategy? In the past few weeks at NLB, we’ve heard from clients that want to optimize their processes and systems and seem very enthusiastic to reach that level of technical utopia. When asked a simple questions: “What does digital transformation mean to you and your organization?”For most, there is a long pregnant pause. It seems to be a simple question for which we expected a simple response, but to no avail.
The important thing about starting a digital revolution is to understand what are the influential factors within their own organization that has been peaking people’s interest in this revolution. Are their technologies are well into extended support mode? Is there a customer demand driving this? Or are there legal and governmental changes in the world today that are making these organizations step-up their technology game?
The latter question is an interesting one. In the many years we have worked in the Indirect Tax space, we have never encountered a more dynamic era of tax law changes. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising of seven countries are instituting a phased a VAT regime, GST has replaced VAT in India, the South Dakota vs. Wayfair decision overturned physical presence standards in the United States, and Europe’s “Making Tax Digital” initiative is requiring some countries to file their returns electronically. This is a lot to swallow all at once.
For any organization that does business in one or more of these regions, keeping up will be challenging, not to mention overwhelming. Yes, the tax world is changing at a rapid pace. However, digital transformation is not a new concept. It just has a catch-phrase, #hashtag, and people are spreading it around like they learned something new. I bet you are already working on a digital transformation project at work. Have you consolidated your business ERP’s lately? Have you helped refine a particular process in your day-to-day tasks? Are you using new reports that help you determine your tax liability? Do you file any jurisdiction electronically? Congratulations! You have already embarked in the digital transformation train and probably did not know it.
The art of transformation is very much like a domino effect, where, a chain of events sets off another similar chain of events. As an example, if you know there are inefficiencies in your organization’s ability to pay a supplier on time, it may be worth peeling back the layers of data and processes required to pay that vendor. It may require an internal look within your own department, or a holistic evaluation across various teams to find the inefficiencies. A few small tweaks in automation or data cleansing may be enough to make the experience of paying a supplier much simpler. In turn, you’ve closed out your month faster, satisfied your supplier, and now have more accurate data in your tax reports to support the transactions.
Small, measured steps is NLB’s approach to tackling digital transformation. Specific inefficiencies are evaluated within an organization where optimization can be delivered at an accelerated pace using Agile principles. Transformation is not a single event, they are multiple events, some happening in parallel or subsequent phases for continuous transformation. It is always in motion and always improving. The need for continuous improvements is why Agility was born. Its framework and practices support the ability to constantly be moving forward as your business moves forward.
As with any initiative at work and in your personal life, the best way to approach digital transformation is to keep it simple. Find your comfort-zone and start with that. Before you know it, the rest will catch-on like a domino effect.
Remember the digital transformation train you are on? The train makes another stop, where do you want to go next?
Global Indirect Tax Lead