On Tuesday, the 5th and Thursday, the 7th of February 2019, hundreds of accountants and bookkeepers descended on the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town and The Campus in Johannesburg to attend the very first Get Connected events to ever be held in South Africa. Hosted by Intuit QuickBooks – the world’s leading online accounting software – these premium, international events were designed to inspire growth, educate attendees for success and connect them to those that can help them thrive.
Kicking off each event was Dominic Allon, SVP International Intuit QuickBooks who delivered the international keynote address – Powering prosperity around the world; Powering prosperity in South Africa. In his talk, he shared how Intuit QuickBooks is committed to helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) succeed. “Approximately 50% of all SMEs globally fail within the first five years due to factors such as lack of access to capital and struggles with getting a bank account. However, 89% of small businesses say they are more successful when they work with an accountant. This is because having an accountant frees business owners up to focus on the reasons they started their business in the first place. Intuit QuickBooks has been helping increase the SME survival rate by bringing accountants and business owners together through our offerings.”
He added that the purpose behind the software giant’s presence in South Africa is to enable accountants to harness the power of the internet and make the shift to the cloud that much easier. “By giving you access to better ways of working, it will remove high volume, low value-adding tasks like reconciling bank statements by hand to give you more time to work alongside your clients and help them grow their business through your expertise and advice.”
Delivering the local keynote address on Leveraging entrepreneurship and technology for exponential success, tech leader Mushambi Mutuma encouraged the audience to think and behave like entrepreneurs in order to better understand their clients, solve problems with greater ease, be more agile and innovative and leverage the benefits of failure. In addition, he emphasised the importance of being tech adjacent. “This doesn’t mean having a full grasp of things like AI, Blockchain and the fourth industrial revolution, but having an understanding of the nature of technology and innovation.”
Mutuma also helped to allay common fears of people being replaced by technology by saying: “While certain elements of our jobs will be automated, technology can never replace the human species. It is a tool that makes things simpler, better and easier – that is all it is.” He concluded his talk by discussing disruption. “We are in our most disruptive era of business in South Africa right now. Every industry we know will be subject to disruption in the next 20 years, so understanding it and its driver, exponential technology, is not optional, but critical. To unlock this next level of growth, you are going to have to enhance your entrepreneurial thinking and learn how to leverage technology. While you don’t have to understand all of it, you do need to know where tech is going and how to use it in your business.”
One of the highlights of the events was the breakaway sessions, which enabled delegates to gain an in-depth understanding about topics of their choice which included An Introduction to QuickBooks Online, Value-based Pricing, Advanced QuickBooks Online and Marketing Your Firm. In the popular session on Marketing Your Firm, DigitLab CEO and Social Media Coach, Mike Saunders informed attendees about the importance of developing their Online Personal Brand. “The bigger your personal brand grows, the bigger the opportunities for your business.” He shared a framework that he has personally tried and tested and which has led to his company not only being voted as one of the top six in South Africa in just three years after its inception, but also generating sales in excess of R20 million per year. Attendees walked away equipped with the know-how for taking their businesses to the next level using online platforms to boost their personal brand.
Both events ended with a panel discussion which saw representatives from four of Intuit QuickBooks’ partners – Draftworx, SAIBA, ReceiptBank and Fathom – in conversation about issues such as the move to cloud computing, data security and how technology enables the shift from compliance to consulting. Asked whether South Africa is keeping up with the rest of the world in terms of moving to the cloud, Grace Miller from ReceiptBank remarked: “South Africa, as a region, is part of the emerging market segment of our business which means it isn’t adopting cloud technology in the accounting space specifically as quickly as other markets. However, they are adopting technologies like SnapScan that are relevant to what their market needs are.” Tania Lee from SAIBA added: “The reality is that cloud accounting is here, it is not something that is coming in the future so our accountants have to adopt it. Unfortunately, the adoption rate is not as high as it should be. While there is a willingness to adopt cloud accounting, we are hamstrung by bandwidth, cost of data, internet speeds and the slow roll-out of fibre.” Her advice to the audience ahead of the new financial year was to educate and upskill staff for the changes that are coming as well as to educate clients to bring them on board this new journey. Earl Steyn of Draftworx concluded the discussion by encouraging attendees to get automated so that they could focus on what they love – helping clients build their businesses.
For those that could not attend the events, keep an eye on the Get Connected website,www.quickbooksgetconnected.co.za, for video clips and further details.