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On-line Professional Service – the elephant in the room?

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ImageThe internet is the greatest social and educational breakthrough since the printing press. This is of course, debatable, but I think most would be hard pushed to argue the contrary. Naturally, where there is great social change there is someone trying to make money from it. How long do you think it took for the first advertising leaflet to be made on a printing press?

We live in a world of constant connection to, well, just about everything. Communities are created from across the globe as people share insights, knowledge and (importantly) goods. And yet every step of the progression has been met with scepticism and incredulity. It wasn’t that long ago when the idea of people selling cars on the internet seemed absurd. You would be just as baffled now if you couldn’t find a price for your car on your phone in a few seconds.

Despite this, there is an interesting omission in our global community trends. The traditional, professional, business to business service provider is still something that most people expect to find within their locality. There are certain situations where you require a service and it makes sense to find it nearby. If I need a mechanic I’ll happily search google for “mechanic Belfast”, because there is a physical transfer of tangible items (too big to post). But why should I search for a web designer, advertiser, accountant or lawyer in my city? There is no technical requirement for these professions to be in my proximity for them to provide their services. But this type of search and assumption happens every day.

This will change, slowly. As some businesses start the movement others will follow, because in many cases business owners simply haven’t considered it an option. What we’re finding out is that it’s not only feasible to remotely deliver these kinds of services, it’s also cost saving. Video conference calls are not a luxury for the mega corporations any more, most of us have the technology casually rattling around in our pockets already.

Technology is the key here. There is a sea of useful, productivity driven apps and online resources that make working remotely a breeze. The really astonishing thing is how you may not have heard of them yet. You’ll read the description of these tools and think “But of course that exists! It’s so simple. Why hasn’t it been in front of me for years?” This is the beauty of the situation: there’s still so much room for growth.

This isn’t the 90’s website bubble when the general public didn’t understand how someone could stand to make money from the internet never mind set up a website. The technology becomes more advanced but the tools to utilise it is becoming easier to use. Here at Baxterworld we’ve taken part in a government supported programme that trained one of our office members to create an API (Application programming interface) that allowed quick translation from Point One (POS system) to Xero (Cloud Accountancy System). These are both international big hitters in the software world now and it took our small firm in Belfast to find a way to link the two. Links like this will be a big plus in the near future.

The way we do business is finding its next logical extreme, and right now that seems to be cloud computing. Many aspects of day to day business life have become electronic, it’s almost an inconvenience to receive a printed invoice these days. With so many services based in the cloud, location specific offices are becoming unnecessary. It’s incredible that businesses can function with each member of the “office” tagging in from across continent, while Joe Blogs searches for a web designer who lives within his bus route. We have an astonishing capability to work more quickly and efficiently with emerging technologies, but how long will it take people to spot the Elephant?

 

This article is from the Baxterworld office. We are an accountancy and admin practice based in Belfast and serving Ireland, the UK, Germany and South Africa.


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