Consumerization of IT for CPA Firms

If you have not heard the term, you have probably at least seen it in action.  What it means is bringing consumer gadgets into your firm’s IT department for connectivity to company data.   Sounds simple enough, but it brings challenges with support and security.

The first smartphones we purchased in our office years ago all had to be the same device.  This was my rule.  Why?  I was a one man IT shop and I had to support them.  How is one able to support a device that you have never even put your hands on?  This was easy because there were only 5 people getting smartphones so it was easy to set a standard.  Now, with a firm of 300 people and a saturated market full of seemingly limitless device options, that rule has gone by the wayside.

While device options are many, at least the OS is not: Apple, Android, Blackberry and Windows to name the big players.  Small firms are still able to support the multitude of devices mostly because the technology has gotten better and because end users are requiring it – whether they want to be connected or not.

All firms need end users to do their part.  Besides enjoying their cool smartphone or new tablet device, users only talk to IT when something does not work right.  Has anyone ever called your help desk and said “Hey, just wanted to tell you my computer was really fast today”….no, they call when things go wrong.   The time they must call is when their device is lost or stolen.  While the user might be embarrassed about what happened to their device – IT does not need to know the reason; we just need to remote wipe the device.  The sooner we know the better.   Many of your users might not even realize the sensitivity of the data or that it is even available….i.e. those users that have a smartphone set up with email access but never use it and don’t recall IT “setting it up”.  Take the time to remind your staff about data security and what they need to do in case of a lost or stolen device.  Your firm will thank you for it when you save them from potential liability.

Have you hugged your IT person today?  P.S. Make sure you check with the human resources department for policy before you do.

This blog

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.  He is also in charge of talent management and retention at his firm.  A background of IT and Human Resources helps Jim bridge the gap of technology complexities with end users who just want their computer to work so they can be chargeable.  Being a very cheap (frugal sounds better) person himself, he is always looking for ways to save dollars at his firm.  He is Director of Education for the Association for Accounting Administration and past Technology Committee member of the Ohio Society of CPA's.  He often leads industry CPE events on the topics of Information Technology, CPA firm practice management and human resources/recruiting. Find out more about Jim on LinkedIn.

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