Most people associate the term “ecosystem” primarily with nature. In this blog post, we would like to show that ecosystems are also playing an increasingly important role in the accounting and fiduciary business and show you how your company can benefit from a strong SME ecosystem.

What is an ecosystem and what distinguishes it? A natural ecosystem is a habitat in which a wide variety of organisms – from trees and shrubs to insects and mammals – live together. Ecosystems are open, dynamic and complex. Another key feature of an ecosystem is that the individual components combine to generate more value than the mere sum of their parts. Because the individual components complement each other so well, they reinforce each other and thus create more value. This is true not only in nature, but also in the SME world. There is much talk of an SME ecosystem emerging around services for SMEs. An SME ecosystem is where all the threads come together.

Who are the key players in an SME ecosystem? In an SME ecosystem, providers, orchestrators and consumers come together. Providers such as banks use the ecosystem to provide services and as a distribution channel. Orchestrators provide the platform for providers, consumers and other relevant stakeholders to come together. SMEs are consumers. Other non-negligible actors in an SME ecosystem are the state and domestic and foreign investors. The state can actively influence ecosystem development with regulatory requirements. Investors often play an important role in the further development of an ecosystem, as they can influence the growth of the platform company through financing rounds.

How are platforms and ecosystems related? A platform is a place where two or more market participants come together and conduct transactions. Many platform companies provide infrastructure on the basis of which entire ecosystems can develop. One of the best-known platform companies that have spawned an entire ecosystem is Airbnb. One example from Switzerland is the tech company Accounto, which offers an accounting platform around which SME ecosystems are to be established in the medium term. So, in summary, we can say that platforms promote the emergence of an ecosystem.

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Total innovative solutions are increasingly in demand in accounting

What are the benefits of SME ecosystems in accounting? Depending on the industry and the size of the company, the accounting requirements of a business differ greatly. Maybe our Guide to help you choose the right accounting solution. However, a cross-industry trend is that more and more companies today want to source everything from bank accounts to accounting to HR services from a single source. Digitally affine executives in particular are increasingly demanding total solutions. The current and next generation of accounting software users expect better customer experiences. The whole process should work seamlessly and ideally can be done on a single platform. This transformation of customer expectations started in the business-to-consumer (B2C) sector but has long since spilled over into business-to-business (B2B). A strong SME ecosystem offers users a similarly simple customer experience as they are used to from B2C platforms such as Airbnb or Uber.

In many sectors, digital natives currently make up the majority of applicants and a significant proportion of employees already on the labour market. According to the Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon, the term digital native refers to a person “who has grown up with information technologies and the internet since childhood and does not know a world without digital media.” Digital natives generally find it easier to delegate work to technology than their older colleagues. It can therefore be assumed that the demand for innovative software solutions in the B2B sector will continue to rise in the future.

For SMEs, accounting improves massively with the right ecosystem. As described above, in an SME ecosystem everything comes together on a single platform. This way, your employees can always work with the same accounting solution. All relevant data and information are kept on the platform. The platform company normally also takes care of cyber security and creates an IT emergency plan (disaster recovery) so that no valuable data is lost even in the event of hacker attacks or natural disasters.

The easiest way for SMEs to do their accounting is with a fully automated accounting system. A smart software solution takes over both routine tasks and exceptional cases. With the Solution from Accounto for example, you as a user: in only have to submit receipts, create your invoices with a few clicks and approve them.

The role of fiduciaries is changing

What does the trend towards total solutions mean for the fiduciary sector? Market observers expect that in the medium term, SME ecosystems are likely to compete with fiduciary companies for revenue from routine activities. Thanks to a high degree of automation, ecosystems handle tasks faster and more cost effectively than traditional fiduciaries. However, fiduciary companies remain the central point of contact for all business and financial concerns of the SMEs they serve. They monitor the accounting of their clients and proactively intervene in case of problems. Fiduciary companies can also draw on proven infrastructure – built by the accounting platforms – to create, promote and charge for their own services. As a result, collaboration between SMEs and fiduciaries is increasingly shifting to the platform, which in turn strengthens the entire ecosystem.

The risks of SME ecosystems

The move towards an SME ecosystem also brings a certain cluster risk, as there is now reliance on only one provider: in – the orchestrator: in. In the event of a possible bankruptcy of the platform operator, all data would have to be migrated to another system, which would require a great deal of time and money. SMEs can address cluster risk by choosing the right platform company. What are the key requirements for the platform around which an SME ecosystem is to be built? The platform must be stable so that your employees can access it at any time and work flexibly. A user experience that is as intuitive as possible further facilitates the daily work of your employees.

Want to know how your business can benefit from an SME ecosystem? Arrange a non-binding conversation with us here. Accounto helps you to fully automate your accounting and become part of a strong SME ecosystem that supports you in managing all accounting tasks.