Episode 3 – Future Proofing Your Business Through Strategic Digitalisation

TBI Expert View is our focused look into the evolving world of global VAT and what changes companies should be making for 2022.

Taxback International’s Chief Technical Officer, David Keating, and Joanna Wang from Amazon Web Services discuss the intricacies of the partnership and collaboration between AWS and Taxback International.

Watch our Chief Technical Officer, David Keating and Joanna Wang from Amazon Web Services discuss Future Proofing Your Business Through Strategic Direction

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Read what our Chief Technical Officer, David Keating and Joanna Wang from Amazon Web Services have to say about Future Proofing Your Business Through Strategic Direction

Taxback International’s Chief Technical Officer, David Keating, and Joanna Wang from Amazon Web Services sat down to discuss the intricacies of the partnership and collaboration between AWS and Taxback International.

In this conversation, Joanna and David explore how the partnership began and the mutual benefits they have derived. As Joanna points out, moving into the future digitalisation is absolutely necessary and companies will need to reinvent themselves to stay on top.  With the recent development and launch of Comply, this is a consideration Taxback International has taken on board.

How did this collaboration between AWS and TBI begin?

Taxback International began using Amazon Web Services (AWS) in November 2016. Initially, this began with the 12-month free tier which is open to all AWS customers. However, during the last five years, the journey has been tremendous. While Taxback International began by using just one AWS core service (Compute) the business has since moved on to include many others including Data Base, Data Analytics, and many others.

What is the background of the TBI requirements?

As Dave points out, the latest platform from Taxback International – Comply – was born from innovation. This makes it no different from other services born from innovation in that it solves a pressing problem for businesses.

So what was the problem?

It’s no secret that global VAT and tax compliance are highly complex and ever-evolving. But Taxback International applied their years of VAT experience to create a new solution that could adapt to evolving changes.

What AWS did was allow Taxback International to very quickly move from an idea to proof of concept to customer validation and on to a functioning sales platform. Speeding up the solution building. AWS was a great fit for Taxback International as it’s as agile as we need it to be.

These partnerships are long-term relationships you’re entering. AWS needs to understand what’s unique about a company’s culture, services, and internal support structure.

What drove the need for the creation of a global, scalable platform?

Once a significant problem has been identified (in this case, the complexity of global VAT) building the solution requires something with the facilities to match it.

Complicated VAT and tax requirements need an agile platform that can adapt to big changes. For this reason, SaaS made sense because a scalable platform was required to meet the global need.

Going into the future, digitalisation is a journey that every business must go on to be compliant as it’s simply not possible anymore with manual processing. This sort of identification of customer demands is what has driven platforms built on AWS.

According to Joanna, 90% of the builds on AWS are driven by customer demands. While another 10% are derived from what customers are having difficulty articulating.

A Two-Way Collaboration

As Dave and Joanna point out, the collaboration between the two companies has proven to be mutually beneficial.

The deep relationship between both companies allowed Taxback International earlier exposure to key releases from AWS. This gave Taxback International the ability to be so innovative and drive changes to its SaaS products.

The team at Taxback International was able to provide AWS teams and product teams with invaluable feedback to bolster improvements and updates. Both teams worked closely to update product features to meet the high standards of Taxback International.

This relationship of feedback and improvement will also lead to benefits for the entire global marketplace.

What “traditional problems” would have existed before AWS?

One of the biggest changes is the switch from onsite to managed services from AWS. In pre-AWS, there would have been a lot of emphasis on physical elements. This includes the need to identify data centres, perimeter firewalls, mid-tier firewalls, and physical materials that would be needed. All of this would need to be configured on-site and can incur significant costs.

Using AWS, time and resources are driven towards software development and research and it has fast-tracked Taxback International’s ability to be agile. The cloud centre of excellence (CCOE) is integral to making sure that both teams are moving in sync.

Why do companies choose to use AWS?

There are a couple of reasons why companies such as Taxback International are utilising Amazon Web Services (AWS).

1. Cost

Capital doesn’t need to be laid out upfront when using AWS. The service provides provision for what you might initially need, however, if you need less it’s easy to return these services to AWS and stop paying for them. AWS operates at such a large scale they can pass on these kinds of benefits to the customers.

2. Scalability, agility, speed

As Dave pointed out, AWS can adapt to customer experience and move much quicker than traditional processes. With traditional, on-site infrastructure it can take up to ten or twelve weeks to get started once computers, storage, etc, have been sorted.  Using AWS, businesses can get started in minutes.

What are the long-term goals of TBI and describe how AWS will help it to achieve them?

The opportunities for businesses are multiple:

  • Greater data insight.
  • Streamlined processes.
  • Optimization in the use of headcount.
  • Cost savings (including the cost of penalties as the risk of errors/lateness of submission can be reduced/eliminated.)

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution as the challenges are multiple and vary from business to business. It depends on the types of transactions, presence across jurisdictions, number of VAT registrations, VAT grouping, number of systems in use, and eventually, the ability or inability to build a consistent tax logic for streamlining the information for VAT data elaboration and VAT reporting.

What should businesses consider when looking for a service provider?

From a VAT perspective, scalability is perhaps the biggest factor for the future. At the moment a monthly VAT return is required in many regions. However, with constant legislation changes, this is changeable and can incur big changes to the load on the Taxback International platform.

With scalability, Taxback International can be more agile around this. Whether the returns are weekly, monthly, daily, it’s easier to change and evolve to match them while still allowing high visibility and scalability to clients.

Taxback International is continuing to build out an ecosystem around VAT, compliance, and tax. These services will continue to grow but be focused on digitalising. In future, every piece of machinery will be infused with AI and machine learning. Taxback International can then create new services which will be leveraged for quality and services to our customers.

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