James Fisher - Aug 8, 2018

The Expend Digest: Growth of Tech

A round up of what’s been piquing curiosity, prompting questions and provoking debate among the Expend team.

In this edition: We're all ears as attention spans increase, and we hear an AI revolution brewing.

Finally, as we’ve suspected all along, our phones are listening to us! Okay, maybe not - on Android phones in a lab at least - the real world is a more nuanced beast altogether. Although, unbeknownst to users, one Spanish football app gave itself permission to listen for illegal broadcasts of football games in bars. The more sinister finding though, is that many apps are instead sharing screenshots of your activity with third parties - without notifying the user. You’ll be pleased to know we do nothing of the sort at Expend!

I suspect if phones were listening to us, they'd find most of daily life to be very tedious. For instance, 98% of powerpoint presentations. If you've never had to endure a presentation from that 98% we are seriously jealous of your good fortune! Moreover, if you’re making the presentation you’ll (assuredly) want to make sure listening to it wont kill critical thinking. Client or investor pitches, project proposals, progress reports for executives - many presentations have a lot riding on them. So, even if you have your presentations on point, there’s always room for improvement. We recommend following these five simple rules to begin.

The good news is, despite modern trends to tedium, attention spans are increasing! For e-mail at least. That’s according to this Litmus blog which found that the average time spent reading an e-mail increased 7% between 2011 & 2016. They attribute much of this to the improvement in the reading experience on mobile devices. Multiple studies suggest more e-mail is now read on mobile than any other device. And, with the DMA finding it receives 30x ROI, there’s no excuse not to optimise your mobile e-mail content. Wondering where to start? Wonder no more!

Unfortunately, while AI can help with inbox management, it has not yet reached the stage where it'll write great e-mails or presentations for you. But, according to a prescient opinion piece from James Poyser, CEO of Inni, it's inevitable AI and automation will replace Accountants.

He sheds light on Xero’s successful accountant-based distribution strategy, but, going forward, considers their position as untenable without a turn to the kind of automation that will make accountants, especially smaller practices, obsolete. It may seem a gloomy outlook but progressive accountants will have options to use it as leverage for growth, a direction already hinted at in Xero's recent book.

Of course, Poyser could be wrong, but at Expend we strongly suspect Quickbooks is already rushing to the same conclusion. At a roundtable discussion during Quickbooks Connect earlier this year we suggested completely automated accounts as the inevitable futureTheir representatives greeted this with the level of enthusiasm usually reserved for conclusions they’ve already reached.

Don't worry though, it's not just accountants who'll have AI to contend with. Have a marvel at what a completely automated company will look like, circa 2028 - courtesy of The Economist.

Written by James Fisher