Digital workplace disruption in 2019: How job roles are shifting in the professional services industry

Artificial intelligence

In 2018, digital workplace transformation across the professional services market finally began to take hold. Today, applications for professionals across accounting, insurance, consulting and other industries are actually providing anywhere and anytime access, seamless collaboration, intuitive experiences and smart capabilities.

For years, those who worked in the professional services market expected these capabilities from their applications, having used consumer tools like Google, Facebook and Amazon that provide a consistent, easy-to-use experience across every device, allow for straightforward collaboration with trusted friends and family, automate tedious tasks and anticipate needs based on preferences and past behavior. After first resisting these demands and then struggling to deliver such capabilities, 2018 saw the wide-scale emergence of comprehensive technology platforms that deliver mobile, intuitive, collaborative, secure, automated and smart digital workplaces. The digital transformation of the professional services market made professionals’ day-to-day tasks easier, reducing training and other costs for firms, increasing productivity and empowering professionals to be more creative.

The new digital workplace is having an impact beyond just these benefits. It is also disrupting established organizational roles and responsibilities for IT staff; partners, principals and other firm leaders; and the lawyers, accountants and other professionals at these firms. In particular, this transformation is leading all these workers to think and act more strategically.

Here are three ways organizational roles -- IT, firm leaders and professionals -- are shifting as the emergence of new digital workplaces enabled by broad technology platforms incorporating cloud, security, mobile and AI continues to accelerate in 2019. 

IT will create new value for the firm’s clients

As companies shift to cloud-based platforms with smart, intuitive interfaces, it’s becoming easier than ever for IT to deploy new solutions and get users up to speed on these solutions, while giving them the flexibility to work without location or device constraints. What’s more, IT is increasingly realizing the benefits of a platform approach -- incorporating the capabilities of enterprise security, governance and scalability in a single modern solution, rather than integrating disparate point solutions. A platform approach provides users with a more seamless working experience, increased functionality and enhanced security. This ensures that the firm is always up-to-date on software upgrades, eliminating risky, disparate and time-consuming processes for IT. As a result, in 2019 IT at professional services firms will focus less on training people and day-to-day management of solutions -- and allocate more time on developing and implementing strategic IT initiatives  -- creating new types of value for their users.

Firm leaders will be more involved in strategic IT decisions

In the past, the IT department was viewed as the end-all be-all of IT decisions at law, accounting and other professional services firms. With the arrival of the new digital workplace, however, firm leaders are shifting to a digital-first mindset and becoming increasingly involved in identifying and deploying new applications for their workforce. These leaders are spending more time researching and implementing new cloud solutions, AI and analytics that allow for faster innovation, increased agility and more efficiency. With security top-of-mind, they also want to be involved in key technology decisions to ensure the applications they work with include robust risk mitigation.

In addition, as these leaders begin to recognize digital transformation as requiring more than just a technology upgrade, they’re playing an increasingly larger role in the process to support the cultural shift that is necessary to foster these changes.

Professionals will experience more flexibility and strategy in their work

Increased automation and smart technologies are changing the ways lawyers, accountants and other professionals work by enabling them to expand the types of services and value they can offer. Today’s professionals can work anytime, anywhere and modern applications with AI capabilities make it easy to search, find and extract valuable information embedded in documents or other data.

With AI-enabled technology, professional services firms can now offer services that might have been cost-prohibitive in the past and uncover hidden experts within the organization -- allowing them to work on projects they didn’t know they had the internal resources and knowledge to support.

In 2018, rapid digital transformation led to increased adoption across professional services firms, enabling professionals to work smarter. As these advanced technologies take hold, the roles of IT, firm leaders and professionals are shifting from focusing on process to centering on strategy. With continued digital disruption, firms will find more time and opportunity to provide increased value for their clients in the new year.

Photo Credit: NicoElNino/Shutterstock

Deniece Moxy is the Director of Product Marketing at iManage where she is responsible for developing strategic marketing initiatives, driving product positioning and messaging while implementing go-to-market strategies as part of the company’s leadership team. Prior to iManage, Deniece Moxy has extensive experience making a difference at leading Fortune 100 and Startup organizations such as Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Rockwell Automation and Perforce Software.

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