What We Learned at Intapp Connect20 - OnePlace for Accounting & Consulting Track

From October 27 to 29, Intapp hosted Connect20, helping attendees learn more about how top professional services firms are adapting to the next normal, and leveraging purpose-built technology to reduce costs, drive operational efficiencies, and connect people, processes, and data for better business outcomes.  

For the OnePlace for Accounting & Consulting track, we assembled leaders from across the industry to talk about the accelerated technological transformation we’re witnessing as a result of the global pandemic, and to offer thoughts on the future.

Here are a few highlights of what we learned during the three-day event.

Day One

Firms Must Predict the Future to Create It

To kick off the event, John Hall, Intapp Chief Executive Officer, and Thad Jampol, Intapp Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, spoke about technology forming the centerpiece of what they termed The Era of Intelligence as well as the ways data fuels that intelligence. “This is unlike any other time,” said Jampol. “We’ve entered into an age where we need data and AI insights to be competitive.”

“We’ve entered into an age where we need data and AI insights to be competitive.” Thad Jampol, Intapp Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer

Hall and Jampol both addressed the need for firms to develop a connected firm strategy, one that connects people, processes, and data in order to achieve maximum agility. “The single greatest obstacle to becoming a connected firm is siloed data,” said Jampol. “The first step to converting your data into knowledge is to bring it together.”

Jampol spoke about how Intapp OnePlace products allow you to build an incredible repository of data in one place, enhanced with third-party data and AI-driven insights.

We’re Accomplishing Things We Never Thought We Could

Stephanie Mehta, Editor-in Chief of Fast Company presented the Day One keynote. “We are seeing that companies can do extraordinary things,” she said.

Mehta noted that a recent Twilio Survey of 2,500 global leaders concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of technological transformation by 6 years.

“How do you make this exceptional behavior become the new normal?”Stephanie Mehta, Editor-in Chief of Fast Company

The question she posed to the audience: “How do you make this exceptional behavior become the new normal?”

Mehta also discussed generational shifts in the market, and how the desire for transparency in all things — including pay and management decisions — would only increase. “Rather than feel defensive, make a virtue of this,” she said. “Technology creates the transparency.”

Connected Firm Strategy Will Drive the Next Generation of Professional Services

Mark Holman, Intapp Chief Strategy Officer and President of Accounting and Consulting, hosted a panel entitled “The Era of the Connected Firm” to discuss how accounting and consulting firms can drive transformation.

“These days, we see a paradigm shift across our industries. We’re bringing about different capabilities, and making new business models a new reality,” said Sebastian Hartmann, Global Head of Technology Strategy at KPMG. “The idea of a connected firm is the underlying foundation of this evolution.”

“A connected firm is the underlying foundation of this evolution.”Sebastian Hartmann, Global Head of Technology Strategy at KPMG

“This is a turning point and an inflection point for the industry. COVID-19 has started the true digitization of our industry,” said Vicki Huff Eckert, West Region Vice Chair at PwC. “I think no longer is it just a people business. This is a technology-plus-people business.”

“We’ve gotten our partners to embrace technology at our core,” said Peter Scavuzzo, Partner and Chief Information and Digital Officer at Marcum. “A connected firm is connecting processes, systems, data, people, and our clients.”

Roger Carlile, Founder and Non-Executive Chairman at Ankura Consulting, added, “We’ve just done the easiest part.” He suggested that the ways in which we extend key assets — such as shared experiences — into the digital world will likely be more difficult.


Day Two

Innovation Can Power a Connected Firm Strategy

With the COVID-19 pandemic came a new virtual age, one where the majority of offices began working and interacting remotely for the first time. This new normal created unique challenges for firms, specifically around efficiency, accuracy, and profitability.

During the session “Don’t Let Your Time — and Revenue — Slip Away,” Jill Nelson, Senior Director of Product and Business Management at Intapp, revealed a solution to these challenges. “In a connected firm, you find ways to tie together every aspect of your business,” said Nelson. With AI solutions that allow users to quickly capture, find, share, and collaborate on crucial information, firm leaders can put a connected firm strategy into practice.

“How firms react to the evolving market dynamics and changing technology will impact their competitiveness and success during the next 10 years and beyond.”Jill Nelson, Senior Director of Product and Business Management at Intapp

“How firms react to the evolving market dynamics and changing technology will impact their competitiveness and success during the next 10 years and beyond,” Nelson said. She urged firm leaders to stay in the game by embracing new technology and finding innovative ways to serve the ever-changing needs of their clients.

Technology and Data Bolster Decision Making

Nigel Riley, Intapp General Manager of Risk and Compliance Solutions, hosted a panel discussion entitled “Strengthen Your Decision Making with Third-Party Data and AI.” The panelists spoke about digital transformation that firms must undertake to thrive in the new normal, and discussed the ways they’re driving their own firms forward.

“We have 30,000 different data sets that come into a database of more than 4 million global records,” said Michael Gandolf, Senior Director of Alliances and Partnerships at Dun & Bradstreet. “We use AI and machine learning every single day.”

“Firms need to go through a digital transformation strategy,” Gandolf added. “What that means is [implementing] less-manual processes, leveraging automation and all the data that is out there — the big data — and putting the right workflows in place.”

“You need to know your processes in advance, so your technology can solve your business issues.”Kim Cornell, Senior Managing Director of Client Intake and Conflicts Management at Ankura

When it comes to advice for other firms, “I would say: Just do it,” said Kim Cornell, Senior Managing Director of Client Intake and Conflicts Management at Ankura. “It can be really challenging. It is big and scary. You need to know your processes in advance, so your technology can solve your business issues.”

“Data is the fuel to the engine,” added Gandolf. “Ultimately, you have to have trust in the system by having a proven, repeatable process.”


Day Three

Adaptation is a Core Competency of Our Industry

Richard Baskerville, Director of Strategy for Accounting and Consulting at Intapp, and Meg Block, Vice President of Risk Consulting at Intapp, hosted a session entitled “Create Speed and Agility in a Volatile Environment” where panelists examined risk practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The past six months have been scary and anxiety-ridden but also innovative and transformative,” said Kim Gibson, Global Head of Risk Management and Independence at Grant Thornton International. “We found out that our global infrastructures are sustainable. The network survived. Our investment served us well.”

“The policies we established worked. And we learned that a lot of the principles that we have lived by in risk management can be used in different ways.”Steve Strammello, Chief Risk Officer at Crowe

“There has always been pressure on us, but it has been accelerated [during the pandemic],” said Willem Oliver, National Director of Risk and Ethics at BDO Australia. “We have to evaluate a host of new risks that weren’t in the forefront.”

“Fortunately, we [had already] spent the time, effort, and dollars on getting our infrastructure to work,” said Craig Butler, Senior Director of Assurance Technology, RSM U.S.

“I really believe, as a profession, that [our pandemic response] demonstrated our adaptability and ability to change,” said Steve Strammello, Chief Risk Officer at Crowe. “The policies we established worked. And we learned that a lot of the principles that we have lived by in risk management can be used in different ways.”

The Human Element Remains Incredibly Important

Pam Smith, Intapp Senior Vice President of Strategic and Corporate Marketing, hosted a panel discussion entitled “What Lies Ahead?

“I don’t see an emptying of cities in the long term,” said Gary Pinkus, Senior Partner and Chairman of North America at McKinsey & Company. “I think travel will come back. We’re trading off [existing] trust, goodwill, and shared experiences, but it won’t last forever.”

“We’re trading off existing trust, goodwill, and shared experiences, but it won’t last forever.”Gary Pinkus, Senior Partner and Chairman of North America at McKinsey & Company

“We are a people business,” said Rick David, Principal at DANLEX Solutions, “How do you create your culture remotely? It is very hard to develop.”

Looking to the future, David noted that 31% of accounting firms are already hiring professionals from non-accounting backgrounds — a notable metric that demonstrates the drastic changes underway. “Many are describing themselves as CPA-led advisory firms,” he added.

“We have gone through a sea shift,” Pinkus said. “Whereas once everyone kind of looked the same, consulting is arriving at a very different world, with multiple specialties.”

“Where to look for [a new kind of] talent?” said Tony Szczepaniak, CEO of LEA Global. “That is a challenge that is facing all of us.”


We hope you enjoyed your time at Intapp Connect20, and found great value in the insights offered by our roster of speakers and guests. Be sure to watch the on-demand videos of the OnePlace for Legal track to learn more. Please contact us to learn more about how Intapp OnePlace can help you harness the power of the connected firm.