Blockchain: Questions Are the Reaction – CPA Trendlines
Blockchain: Questions Are the Reaction
Blockchain will find answers. But you need to know the right questions.
By Hitendra Patil
If blockchain were human, here’s what it would say to you: “Dear accountant, your intelligence is far more powerful than my algorithmic intelligence. I can do the math, audit the authenticity of transactions amazingly quicker than you can. But that’s not the point. The point is: I can provide you answers much swifter than was ever possible. But only if you ask me superb questions!”
We are just about beginning to see what Pablo Picasso witnessed way back in one thousand nine hundred sixty four about “the enormous fresh mechanical brains” and “calculating machines.” They are “useless,” he said. “They can only give you answers.”
If the mechanical brains “can only give you answers,” it is imperative that someone asks those brains the right questions. That someone had better be you.
The Entrepreneur’s Questions
Most likely, your business clients hired you as their accountant to seek answers to some “defined problems” – like filing a tax comeback. A quick, mini-survey hints that people equate accountants more than anything else with “tax come back.” “Why” did they have a cash flow problem? “Why” did they make a loss this month … and so on.
Entrepreneurs had the questions. You provided the answers. Hourly billing might have made you feel you traded hours for dollars. But entrepreneurs were always paying for the answers.
If you make a list of the most common questions that your business clients ask you repeatedly, you’d notice about ten to fifteen common questions that get asked by almost every client.
Those common questions they ask you are not the keys to your future success. It is the questions they aren’t asking you.
Why? Because in the future you will be more strongly supported by automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain. It will enable you to figure out the questions that your clients should ask you, but aren’t asking. Finding answers to such fresh questions will be lighter, swifter and profitable for accountants. The value of anything is perceived as good only if the cost of finding that value is lesser than the benefit it supplies. And that’s what the technological evolution will help accountants with – delivering fresh value and delivering traditional value. The fresh value delivered will be fresh benefit to clients and the price of that benefit depends on you, the accountant, if you coach your clients on what fresh questions they must ask.
The Questions Entrepreneurs (and Accountants) Don’t Ask
So, what are questions that entrepreneurs don’t ask often enough, until now?
When technology disrupts to create fresh possibilities, it also creates fresh challenges that need to be addressed. One can wait for things to happen and then react, or be one step ahead and train the clients to ask those fresh questions that will be mighty relevant to their businesses.
Blockchain is not just about immutable transactions that are recorded in a third ledger. It is about providing immutable record of a series of transactions that are needed to accomplish a particular business process. Take for example a purchase order for physical goods. When does the buyer pay the money to the seller? Visualize the human resources, technology, authorizations etc. required to budge money only for the goods received (as per terms of the purchase order). A European bank recently announced that when a blockchain system triggers confirmation of receipt of goods, it would automatically stir the payments as long as the money is in the account (provided certain conditions preferred by the business proprietor are met)!
If blockchain creates immutable record of each step in the process, imagine the time it can free up for key people (decision-makers) in an accounting practice/business, and the cost thereof. The question that emerges is “What will these key people do instead in that freed-up time?”
In proverbial terms, they’d spend more time sharpening the ax and finding the right jungle to cut.
In other words, entrepreneurs would need more inputs from accountants on the decisions they should make and the ones they shouldn’t make. According to the type of business, the stage in its lifecycle etc., the questions will be different. Recall, entrepreneurs too haven’t yet lived in the blockchain era so they won’t be able to lightly fathom the fresh questions. And even if they are studying blockchain, they are rather doing it from their core business perspective, not from the accounting perspective.
Creative thinking will help accountants to be ready with those critical questions. Entrepreneurs find fresh completes with the same means everyone else has or can have. Basically, entrepreneurs find fresh problems to solve or find fresh ways to solve old problems more efficiently and profitably. With the blockchain future, the concentrate will shift from whether the transactions were accurately finished to the influence of those transactions on the business. Hence, most likely, those fresh questions will have something to do with entrepreneurial thinking, decision-making, identifying the preferred problems to solve, thinking of solutions to solve those problems and wooing clients to implement those solutions.
Could the future questions be something like:
- With the current sales trend of my company, when will I face a cash-flow problem / need overdraft?
- To grow by ten percent more, which resources would I need and what will the cost be?
- Did a vendor switch result in enhanced refund requests from clients?
- Sales haven’t switched but profit has gone down. Why?
You want to ask questions that will make clients go “Aha! I didn’t think of that but I should have. Thanks a bunch.”
That’s the blockchain future of accountants. Questions will be the answers for future success of accountants. I will leave it to your imagination and anticipation what those fresh questions should be.
“Is there any question that I should have asked but haven’t?”
Asking this question at the end of every conversation with a prospect or a client often generates key insights for accountants as the core fears, fantasies, wishes and concerns come out with this question.
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Two Responses to “Blockchain: Questions Are the Response”
Hitendra R. Patil | Author: Accountaneur: The Entrepreneurial Accountant
Thanks, Paul, for sharing your thoughts! Reimagining fresh finishes from same processes due to technology breakthroughs is a harsh ask – so we must “ask”!
Hitendra, I think you’re right on the money with this… Reminds me of the Einstein quote, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the very first fifty five minutes determining the decent question to ask… for once I know the decent question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
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About the Author
Hitendra Patil applies emerging studies in neuroscience to entrepreneurial strategies at tax and accounting firms in Accountaneur: The Entrepreneurial Accountant.
Patil serves as director of practice development atAccountantsWorld, responsible for helping accountants become more successful by leveraging AccountantsWorld’s software solutions more powerfully and advancing the company’s leadership in cloud solutions for accountants. AccountantsWorld is a leading provider of cloud-based solutions for accountants. AccountantsWorld offers a accomplish, integrated suite of innovative accounting, payroll, and practice management solutions that help accountants work collaboratively with clients to foster greater client loyalty and improve practice bottom lines. AccountantsWorld is also the only leading cloud solutions provider that puts Accountants First™ by never contesting with accountants or selling services directly to their clients.