Disruptive area # 3 – Clients are using the internet for your advice

It seems we use the internet everything we need to know!

Addresses/ companies / people / products/ concerts / store opening times / weather / golf handicap / cycling routes / friends whereabouts (or what they are eating – yuk) and the BIG one…‘how to do’ everything. The internet seems to be our first port of call for anything we want to know or find information on.

Whatever happened to the Yellow Pages, asking people personally, the Encyclopedia Britannica or a Catalogue? All (or nearly) GONE!

Social behaviour is indicating we need(?) to be connected to our device. And the device rules supreme. A few weeks back I was at an airport lounge and my travelling companions had a ‘device bag’ full of connected gadgets.

The world is connected and it is getting more connected every day. Currently we go to our device (pick up a phone or tablet) and tap in the requested search. We can also talk to our device (the annoying Siri in the iPhone as a good example) and she/he can help us. Or talk to our car and another annoying voice (but very proper diction) will give us directions to your destination.

Does this give us an enhanced human experience? Probably not. But it sure is efficient.

Mobile technology is booming. It’s what consumers want. They want information at their fingertips. Tap tap tap and hey presto – I have the answer and now I am an expert.

And that is an issue for anyone in the advice business. AKA Accountants!

Let’s say I wanted to learn about borrowing money through my pension scheme to buy a property. I could ‘Google’ that and find the answer in a few seconds. What if I wanted to work out how to improve the profit of my Winemaking business? I could go to a LinkedIN group and discuss that and get an answer. What if I needed a payroll or tax question answered? I can search it and go directly to the government portal and get the answer.

Uncle/Aunty Google has all the answers it seems.

Enter IBM.

The IBM super computer ‘Watson’ is an extraordinary piece of engineering. It can beat humans (really smart ones) at Chess and Jeopardy (proven) and ‘some say’ he/she is so smart he knows what the President of any country will say next! OK…I made the last bit up.

You get the idea. Watson is a supersmart supercomputer.

IBM have announced this year (2014) to >$1BN investment to develop Watson into a usable resource. There are >2,000 people in the Watson team and their job is to enable Watson into the world. One of the cool ideas is to create ‘Watson for business.’ Think of it as ‘Siri’ (iPhone fame) for business. You have a business question, talk to the device and it gives you the answer. BOOM. Great for the user – not so great for you.

You see, Watson is a sponge like a human. It can absorb / disseminate / translate / organize/ conceptualize any information and then send it back in a usable format. Pretty much all of the worlds ‘texts’ (as in manuals, books and all forms of content) are accessible on the internet. But the internet is a bit of a mess. There is a lot of content to absorb and disseminate. Watson can do sort it out and give it back to you in a usable format.

I got interested in Watson a few months back by the following line in a newsletter I received…

“This is the start of the end of professional services as we currently know it”

WOW. WOW and more WOW!

Does that mean the super computer can replace the Adviser? For repetitive and systematic information absolutely YES. And there will be ‘an app for that’ very soon.


I don’t mean to scare you but I do. This is real and it is happening right now and the Accounting profession is in the firing line for massive disruption. Without notice and appropriate action these 3 ‘disrupters’ have the capacity to wipe out a (BIG) chunk of revenue / profit / business value in the profession….QUICKLY.