DEAR ACCOUNTANTS: ADAPT OR DIE / What Growth Mindset Has to Do With It

Pop quiz. What do accounting and bookkeeping have in common with the nation’s most revered brands? 


Take in the parable of tech giant Google. As a society, we’ve become reliant on the concept of seeking and finding information at a moment’s notice. 


At the Google building, a life-size dinosaur is on display where everyone can see it – it’s a three-dimensional reminder. Of what? That slowing down innovation means running the risk of becoming obsolete. 


Like Google, Amazon, Apple and Uber position themselves for growth, rather than risk extinction. How? They innovate — with self-driving cars, glasses and more — because they want to displace the old ways of doing things. They embrace change because they want to thrive into the next decade. 


We’ve entered a new era in technology: artificial intelligence and engineering capabilities are aligning. Machine learning has become evermore present in how we shop for food, access banking services and get insurance policies. And those in professional services who choose not to embrace technology will get a raw deal, if they can’t find their footing in this tech-enabled space too.


We’ve thought a lot about the growth mindset at DUKE-AI. We’re a FinTech startup. We’re a company at the intersection of technology and accounting expertise, with a strong transportation industry following. And as many conversations as we’ve had with truckers and accountants alike, to connect them and to encourage them all to embrace growth, we’re finding the nation’s road warriors (old and new) far more eager to use technology in their daily routines than CPAs. 

Mobile App for clients combined with an Accountant Portal


And that’s understandable. As humans we get stuck in our ways. We perceive change to be costly and painful. But here’s the crux of our concern:


We see higher education lagging behind the times. And yet newly minted CPAs are hungry for the opportunity to start tech-enabled firms … while longtime CPA firms are struggling with too-thin margins. 


We see professional skills-development classes for technology in high demand. And yet we see legacy bookkeepers suffering through an increasing decline in once-plentiful work. They’re scrambling more and earning even less. 


Seeing so many in the accounting industry resist growth, we’ve been having those difficult conversations as an AI company providing simple-yet-sophisticated tools in FinTech.

Remember Blockbuster


It’s no one’s fault. We are all human, after all. It’s in our DNA to stick to what we know. And we unconsciously resist change and avoid the discomfort in facing unknowns.

Let’s not forget the great 1990s success, Blockbuster. They were unstoppable. And even declined the opportunity to start using new media to distribute their products … until Netflix acted faster, displacing the market. One day, Blockbuster was on top. And then they were dust. 

And there’s the hard truth: old school accounting is on its last leg, because it does very little to learn from growth-minded brands.