Technology & digital business
At the core of all our IT developments over the past 12 months has been a continual focus on enabling efficiency, quality and growth across our services and markets. BDO’s digital transformation is revolutionising the services we offer our clients, how we deliver them and the value they add. This dedication to leveraging IT for improved client service ensures BDO is navigating this era of digital transformation with agility and responsiveness to our clients’ needs.
At a global level we work continuously to strengthen our clients’ experience with us, via a robust and fully scalable IT infrastructure that includes cloud, security and platforms. Central to our programme of work in 2017 was creating a single BDO experience through seamless access for all our firms, together with the adoption of a uniform cloud strategy.
Security is paramount
Information security will always be an ongoing focus for all BDO firms. New threats force us to invest on a regular basis and we pay the utmost attention to security in order to protect both client data and our strong brand.
Read more: An interview with our leaders
During 2017 we further strengthened our information security and privacy practices and controls, ensuring that our high standards are maintained in every firm. This includes the implementation of an information security governance structure that is based on international standards. These activities give our firms and their clients confidence in the security and privacy of their information, a vital element in the strong relationships we maintain with them.
Exceeding clients’ digital needs
The drive towards understanding and enabling our clients’ digital needs is fuelling the convergence of our technology and business models across all our firms.
We see genuine value in transforming our services into digitally-oriented offerings, ensuring that doing business with BDO in this digital age is easy and accessible, regardless of a client’s location. Key 2017 initiatives in this area were the further development of our global web template and global Portal.
At the end of 2017, the vast majority of BDO web sites are live on our centrally-hosted web template, which provides a consistent technical quality and uniform look and feel for users. It also enables one-touch development rollout to all BDO firms’ web sites, including new joiners. Our unique next generation web environment automates the process of creating and sharing content across the BDO world, improving the user experience for site visitors by providing relevant insights with a simple click. In this way our clients can remain up to date with the latest industry news and legislative developments in real time.
BDO’s global Portal is now being piloted by a number of BDO firms. This facility is the catalyst to digitise our business, providing our clients and advisers with an online collaboration space that gives 24/7 access to BDO services and insights. Our global Portal is a priority project where IT and business leaders work together to enhance our excellent client service principles in the digital world and it will continue to evolve, according to the needs of our clients.
BDO is also looking for ways to harness the unmatched automation and efficiency benefits of chatbots and robotic process automation to further improve quality and meet client expectations.
BDO in Switzerland is working with Global IT to design and deploy a Q&A-styled chatbot that can support a limited review audit engagement. The client-facing bot asks general questions about the prior year's developments and evolves to answer questions regarding the limited review, handle document uploads and learn client intentions.
This chatbot approach has revolutionised the audit process for selected BDO clients by supporting them in transferring required information and documentation to their BDO advisers via a conversational user interface, rather than through completing complex forms or continuous emails.
Bots also support our experienced auditors, giving them access to this information during analysis and allowing them to decide if any material modifications need to be made to the financial statements.
BDO in the Netherlands has taken a particularly proactive approach by creating a digital process for its client Jumbo, a supermarket chain. The firm has digitised all of Jumbo’s sales, operational and administrative data, allowing it to be quality checked and run through a custom-built data analytics platform. This allows Jumbo to work hand-in-hand with BDO to make well-informed business advisory decisions, based on detailed and up-to-date dashboard reporting, benchmarking and financial statements.
Industry relationships deliver client value
BDO’s growing global footprint facilitates our relationships with leading IT partners around the globe, and these in turn help to accelerate our ability to deliver successful IT-focused solutions for our clients. Our global strategic alliance with Microsoft continued to deliver benefits throughout 2017, with a dedicated team of Microsoft developers working within BDO’s IT teams. This team brings expert skills and knowledge to our internal practices, ensuring we have the business partners we need to deliver high quality digital tools and platforms efficiently for our clients and people. Strong working relationships – and in some cases formal partnerships – with Adobe, Qlik, Oracle, SAP, Lenovo, HP, Targus, DocuSign, Xero, QuickBooks, Receipt Bank and other local cloud accounting providers are delivering tangible value for our firms and their clients. Partnerships support BDO in our digital journey, driving efficiency and digital value in our operations and services.
Enriching our client’s audit experience by harnessing the power of data analytics is an important focus for BDO. BDO Advantage is our global data analytics initiative and provides a combination of increased audit quality, enhanced client insight and greater efficiency of service – all crucial on our journey to becoming digital first.
Enhancements to our audit process tool are continual with the implementation of APT Next Gen. Launching in 2018, this new tool will provide significant benefits to our audit practices and our clients worldwide by enabling high quality audits to be conducted quickly and efficiently, using a globally consistent approach.
This year saw the introduction of a Counting Made Simple app, which is simplifying and bringing greater efficiency to our clients’ inventory count process.
Read more: A & A report
IT innovation in action
BDO’s strength is our local talent, connected and shared globally. The ingenuity of our firms was on full display in 2017, with some delivering incredibly robust and client-focused IT solutions. BDO in Russia, for example, is developing digital solutions that they test with their strategic clients. These include blockchain-based corporate transaction systems, predictive analytical tools to support management decisions and a full circle paperless electronic procurement system for one of the country’s largest banks.
In the UK our teams have applied Robotic Process Automation to ensure high levels of data quality and completeness, by using tailored software to replicate repeatable tasks being done by people, in a much more cost and time efficient way. The solution ensures all companies in our UK firm’s corporate tax application have the correct Standard Industry code assigned.
We are harnessing and leveraging these solutions globally to ensure their value is amplified as much as possible across our firms’ entire client base.
The fast pace of digital change will not cease in 2018 and BDO’s rollout plan for IT solutions that will allow our firms to deliver excellent client service digitally continues to gather pace. We will focus on the development and implementation of industry-leading collaboration and communications platforms, connecting locally, regionally and globally to drive client-centric solutions. Our goal is to be an industry leader in everything we do: in a digitally-focused market, IT underpins that now more than ever. For our people this means more efficient ways of engaging with their clients to provide deeper insights when and where they are needed. For our clients this means continually high quality advice that is always one step ahead.