I was reading a recent article where the reader asked an expert, “It is time for me to get a new computer, should I buy a laptop, desktop, netbook, or a tablet? Which solution do you think is best?” At first glance many of us may think to ourselves how great it will be to hear the expert answer this question. We’ve wanted to know the current state of these technologies to determine which is best. With a little thought, we soon realize that the answer is not as easy as the question. We have no idea what the person asking the question is going to use it for.
In our world of tax software, it is important to not get caught in the same trap. We continually develop products to address many challenges that our clients have. The products might address their data management needs, provision, workflow, or compliance tasks. It is important that we not lose sight of the fact that every client has different processes, different requirements and, in turn, different needs. Just as the person asking what computer they should buy needs to tell the expert how they will use it, we do not assume that every one of our clients is doing everything the same. We can certainly make some assumptions. Every client needs to file a tax return, so we assume they need our software to do that. That is probably a good assumption, but in the new environment where multiple products are working together to create a solution, a single product is not the only tool we should offer.
When it comes to our products, there are many questions we need to ask. It is no longer relevant to show you a product and ask if you will buy it. We need to demonstrate the value of the solution. We need to help you evaluate the risks, the accuracy, the labor investment, the level of commitment, etc. By answering these questions, we can give clients the best value. We need to help you see the value in all of our products working together. Perhaps helping to build a plan which will help you reach long-term goals as well as short-term budget concerns.
It is also important to consider current trends within the industry as well as the future development we are planning as a company. How will clients get their data into the products? Where does the data come from? How concerned are they about materiality or building checks within the systems? The proper investment in time up front to help the client understand the value of various alternatives will provide them with an understanding of why Thomson Reuters is the right place for them to invest in the future.
When I hear someone ask, “What is the best technology?”, this should be the beginning of the conversation, not the end. There is no answer yet, only lots of questions. Only after we know exactly what the needs are can we know what solution is best and what will ultimately make for a long-term satisfied customer. As for me, I still have all 4 personal technologies in my house. Some are redundant, but all have some task they do very well. Depending on the situation, that may be the best solution.