How time has become the focal point of the best tax technology strategies

When I first started reviewing the market and influences within the indirect tax technology environment back in 2016, I was trying to envision how a relatively unknown firm could begin to chip away at the more commonly utilised firms and technology options available and drive us towards being a new option.

How could what was, at the time, a small collective of highly experienced tech consultants here be structured in a way that would allow for scalability and growth?

The tax, finance and accountancy world is, unlike other elements of contemporary business, circulatory and time bound in process controlled by legislative forces. A consistent circle of responsibilities and tasks that are relied upon for the benefit of the wider business operations. To be compliant is a complex consideration built on many analogue components to generate a digital output.

Interestingly though, my research illustrated to me that this was not the only spinning element of this particular organisational function.

If we consider that any tax team/function is represented, in this humble example, by the Planet Earth, you can try to consider that within its internal ecosystem, it is reliant upon multiple considerations working in harmony (or not) within that quasi-contained system. Supply chain, customers, sales, policy, competition, politics, the tangible, the in-tangible, people, influencers, technology, entrepreneurialism, pandemics…

If, by spinning alone on its axis the planet is managing its tax control framework of duties, the business could be reporting to the Tax Authorities, in this case the Sun, drawing in the attention of the planet, reflecting a constant presence visible on a cyclical basis.

It might seem slightly far-fetched, but the wider system of tax technology globally is probably more comparable to a galaxy of planets. Siloed individually as independent businesses (planets/moons), beholden to various authorities systems, procedures and nuances and complicated by market forces, industry pressures and increasing adoption of technology.

Space and time are often considered close in relationship in that both are constant, seemingly endless and uncontrollable. Connected together at the very root, according to Hawking.

Constantly spinning spheres of professional acumen and precision with data.

I took a step back and begun to focus on areas of the tax community’s spinning spheres where we could add value, make things easier and build momentum under highly pressurised and often underestimated circumstances. And it worked…

But the numerous and multi-layered spheres kept on spinning. If we put our product and tool development to one side for the moment, time (or more importantly timing) became an important factor of our strategy.

Seemingly so obvious now, but five years ago the concept of time woven into providing technological solutions was only granted a modicum of sentiment in commercial discussions. In no other market was it ever quite so sensitive.

It’s not just that a customer can make a change and/or adopt a better way of working when it suits them as an individual or team. The other factor is time; time to explore, time to consider and time to impact change for one of the 100+ reasons a tax team has vocalised the potential to consider Innovate Tax over the years landed with a crash.

Five years ago, time wasn’t a factor in our plan. Time is now the centre of our strategy. Patience is key. But we understand where we fit and through time we have shown that we have what is required to continue to be creative, to fit into those windows of opportunities for our customers, no matter what shape or size they may turn up as.

The constant forces in the market are known to all that participate, but perhaps there is a new one to consider?

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