Embracing technology isn’t just a matter of having the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos at hand whenever we want to use them – it’s something that’s integrated into every part of our everyday lives. And it’s no different for businesses. Technology is part of everything, and if you don’t keep up with it, you run the risk of competitors eating your lunch and taking your customers. Automation is one of the most important technological advances to modern businesses, and app integration is a critical part of making sure it runs smoothly. Get both right, and you’ll save time, boost productivity, and make more space to focus on important business tasks. So how do you get it right?

The challenges of technological adoption
It’s no secret that South Africa’s businesses face many challenges: A declining economy, a changing – and volatile – political landscape, and digital disruption, among other things. So how do you make sure the time and effort you’re expending aren’t going to waste? Start by finding out what takes up most of your company’s resources and energy, and then do less of it. Research from online accounting software, Xero, indicates that 23% of all small businesses are still doing their books manually, for example. If this process was automated, businesses could focus more of their energy on strengthening the company – and driving it forward.

Automation, accountants, and app integration
This is where automation comes in particularly handy. There are thousands of apps available to automate processes, streamline business operations, and generally make things better. But if you don’t know which apps to use, or how to navigate a growing application marketplace, that means nothing. App integrators are experts in setting up and implementing the right add-on apps for businesses according to their needs. They can help you create an enterprise ecosystem, one where each tool complements every other tool in ways that boost efficiency and effectiveness. Accountants can be key app integrators, and in some respects they’ll need to. The industry’s undergoing a sea change of its own – some 92%, according to research from Xero, believe their role has changed significantly, and 42% of South African professionals think they’ll need management consultancy skills to be successful by 2025.

Applied applications
Here, an app integrator can be especially useful – especially when finding the right apps for conducting business can be a tedious task. I was particularly impressed by Xero ZA’s decision to launch an app integrator directory, and Xerox has selected OutsourcedCFO as its national cloud systems integration partner. And as app integrators ourselves, we’re thrilled to be part of this program and to more easily serve as advisors and strategists, recommending the very best apps for a particular organisation. With a good app integrator, clients, their teams, and their customers will be better placed to automate manual processes. This will mean they can streamline complex processes, increase productivity, and reduce the number of hours spent on manual data entry – and the errors caused by this data entry.

Louw Barnardt is the Co-founder and MD at Outsourced CFO.