CCH 2011 User Conference Focuses on Innovation

By Gail Perry
Innovative thought is the theme at CCH Connections, this year's annual CCH User Conference, and nothing could be more timely. For the past two decades, accounting firms have been introduced to new technologies both in the form of hardware and software. There has been a steady flow of products introduced over that time frame, new programs to learn, new features to master.
But there is a technological sea change occurring right now, and the Thomas Paine statement of "Lead, follow, or get out of the way," has never been more appropriate than it is today.
I've attended conferences and presentations all over the country for the past year, and the single message that resonates everywhere I go is that technology is in the process of taking a giant leap forward, and accounting firms that don't partake of the new offerings will run the risk of being left behind.
Old school ways are being supplanted by fresh ideas. Technology is giving us the tools to explore new methods of connecting with clients, provide traditional services, and offer a new style of service that is much more intense and robust than ever before.
The overpowering message at the CCH conference is that accountants need to wrap themselves around innovation, break out from the mold of traditional accounting services, and find fresh ways to serve their clients. Kevin Robert, CEO of Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting, in his keynote address at the CCH User Conference quoted Karl Ulrich, dean of innovation at Wharton School of Business: Innovation is a new match between a solution and a need.
It's that new match that is providing the driving force at the conferences I've attended, and the CCH User Conference is confronting new opportunities for accountants head-on. From innovations in hardware and programs designed to foster multi-tasking and ease-of-use, to new smartphone apps, to new ways to connect with clients in a variety of venues, attendees are being presented with enough fresh ideas to keep planning committees busy for years to come.
The use of mobile technology – smartphones and tablets –is moving forward at unprecedented speed. "Perhaps none of us anticipated this in a professional context even as little as a couple of years ago," said Robert, reminding listeners that the iPad was launched only a year and a half ago and has already made a major impact on the workspace. Research and advisory firm Gartner now estimates that iPad sales in 2011 will exceed 2010 sales by 400 percent.
Robert also quoted Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, who said, "Technology has exhausted the limits of the PC as a platform; the future will center on mobile devices." Software manufacturers, including CCH, are making robust mobile versions of their programs, designed to allow users to work anywhere, anytime – a process now referred to as workshifting.
The CCH conference is zeroing in on helping participants find that new match through technology tools. "We're focusing on the application of new technology, how it meets your needs and your clients' needs," said Robert. Not only does the accessibility of new technology offer an opportunity to change the way we work and the way our customers work, "It will change the way our customers expect to be served."
With a record sold out attendance of over 1,200 tax and accounting professionals at the JW Marriott in San Antonio, TX, CCH is offering three days of demos, workshops, roundtable discussions, tax and auditing updates, hands-on demonstrations, new product presentations, and more. The challenge for attendees seems to be fitting all the sessions they want to attend into the limited time frame.
The message is loud and clear: Now is the time to explore cloud computing, upgrade technology, and spread yourself across the Internet through uses of social media and by making your Web site a vibrant, interactive go-to place for clients and prospects. These aren't merely suggestions – this is a movement.
You can watch Kevin Robert's complete keynote address.

You may like these other stories...

It's not a reality—yet—but accounting software is poised to eliminate accountants. We are at a tipping point for many similar professions: online education replacing professors, legal software replacing...
Inversions: Loophole Is the ProblemJacob J. Lew, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that "the system has become full of inefficiencies and special-interest loopholes. That...
School tax breaks get House support as Democrats objectRichard Rubin of Bloomberg reported that the House of Representatives on Thursday voted to expand and simplify tax breaks for education as Republicans continue to pass...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 31
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom helps beginners get up to speed in Microsoft Excel. However, even experienced Excel users will learn some new tricks, particularly when David discusses under-utilized aspects of Excel.
Aug 5
This webcast will focus on accounting and disclosure policies for various types of consolidations and business combinations.
Aug 20
In this session we'll review best practices for how to generate interest in your firm’s services.
Aug 21
Meet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs. Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring and executing a successful project can make the difference between success and repeated failures.