PwC Australia has taken the global lead in building new, technology-based, turnkey lines of business outside of PwC’s traditional service areas. PWC is applying its insights and knowledge base to the company’s vast amounts of existing data and leveraging APIs to uncover new revenue models and new services to offer to its customers.
PwC, one of the “Big Four” accounting
firms, is well-known for professional services structured around auditing,
insurance, tax, legal, and traditional management consulting. In Australia, the
PwC Innovation and Ventures group has taken the global lead in building new,
technology-based, turnkey lines of business outside of PwC’s traditional
service areas. Applying its insights and knowledge base to the company’s vast
amounts of existing data, PwC has uncovered new revenue models, distinct from
its traditional, labor-intensive services.
Traditionally, people at PwC
connected to critical data in response to scheduled tasks or crises in order to
provide independent advice, often after the fact, when there’s little runway to
make considered business decisions. The company wanted to move beyond the
status quo, where people connected to static data and where benchmarking,
deeper insights, and alerts were often an afterthought. Expertise gained from
analyzing data and drawing valuable insights often was limited to individuals—it
didn’t scale. PwC aimed to leap forward technologically and build utility and
value for its customers through the development of a vibrant API-based
Innovation From Down Under
Australia is helping to lead the way
at PwC from a software and development perspective. Early on, the Innovation
and Ventures group decided to collaborate with PwC New Zealand, which leads the
world in cloud general ledger adoption. The group represents the first with
over 20% of its customer companies keeping their general ledgers in the cloud
(that figure is currently around 35%), and serves as an early example of what
can be achieved with APIs based on cloud general ledger data.
Accessing proprietary data (most
significantly general ledger data), transforming it, and connecting it to an
ecosystem of partners and clients via APIs, has quickly proved a winning
formula for PwC, in the form of its Next platform, which combines multiple
cloud accounting tools and integrated cloud applications in an open platform.
It also includes customizable dashboards that provide a holistic view of a
client’s entire portfolio, including business trends, in real time.
“By our very nature, we’re a people
and services business, evolving into a data business. The biggest help that
Apigee has provided in this transformation is in helping us expose core, rich
data so that our people who provide services today can actually demonstrate
value in the market tomorrow.”
— Trent Lund, PwC Australia
In developing the firm’s first technology
products, PwC Australia’s Head of Innovation and Ventures Trent Lund was
adamant that as an accounting firm, PwC never spend a dollar building something
that technology professionals had already done better. That credo led Lund to
select Google’s Apigee as PwC’s platform of choice for developing productized
Increasingly, the datasets PwC wants
to connect with are from public sources and open APIs coming from cloud
providers. The Apigee toolset is perfectly positioned for Lund’s team’s focus
on data connectivity—especially now that Apigee is part of Google, Lund says.
“The Apigee integration into Google
is really helpful for us because we can connect in with that same ecosystem.
Our team is relatively small by global standards, so we really don’t have time
to try and foster multiple technology relationships,” Lund says. “We need to
have deep, trusted relationships where we can get a level of sharing now and
into the future, and that’s what we get with Apigee.”
PwC Australia continues to innovate
and build the platform, but rather than continuing to pay for development from
its local innovation fund, the platform is now funded globally so that it can
be accelerated and shared across four countries. Australia, New Zealand, the
United Kingdom, and the United States are simultaneously guiding the platform’s
requirements and features as PwC develops with an awareness of each country’s
For example, compliance with the
European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and China’s data
residency rules would be far more complicated without a single technology
partner like Apigee that experiences the same global challenges as part of
Google, Lund says.