The Tax Manager jumps up onto Santa’s knee while eyeing a bulging sack in the grotto labelled Tax Technology Toys. “… And what would YOU like for Christmas”, asks Santa sweetly. “I know I want something but I’m not really sure what it is or what it looks like; but I do know that when I have it I will be absolutely sure whether it is right or not!”
The year 2015 saw a sea change in the approach to Tax Technology in Europe and for those with a global outlook. After some years of warily watching from the side lines, such Tax managers are actively (but still warily) looking for real information on specific products and services. They need to do more in their departments without extra resources, and technology appears to be the answer at least in part.
But there’s a problem. Over the last few years the market has morphed, grown and become fragmented. Tax decision makers are now faced with a plethora of different offerings – technologies, platforms, infrastructures, data trawlers and procedures. Where does a beleaguered Tax manager start when making his or her 2016 Tax Tech list for Santa?
This is akin to selecting from the myriad of latest consumer gadgets for your teenage children, but in this regard the kids themselves can help. When faced with ailing or inefficient Tax solutions, good information is harder to come by. It is all too easy to end up addressing a symptom rather than a root cause.
How does this happen? It turns out there is a gap. Tax managers can know a tremendous amount about their internal Tax processes, but until it is formally presented in a comprehensive manner that makes sense to a wider audience and addresses the underlying business and automation components, it remains subject to guesswork or conjecture.
The trials and tribulations suffered by some of early adopters, especially of the global Tax engines, bear this out. Targets were missed and unexpected results materialised. However, since then the technology is much improved and many lessons have been learnt; now we just need to figure out how this can be smoothly leveraged by everyone.
Perhaps there should only be one thing on every Tax manager’s list for 2016 – a complete understanding of all aspects of Tax, its representation in IT systems and the ideal next step for improvement. Granted, this nirvana is out of reach even for Santa, but there are steps we can take. Please share your view and experiences of what is possible today by commenting on this blog.
In the meantime, the good people of PawPaw Taxology wish you the very best of festive seasons and an outstanding Tax Technology year in 2016!