3 Ways Firms Can Go Mobile and the Tools to Know

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Nov 9th 2015
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If you've never dabbled with cloud technology, there are three easy ways you can start experimenting and a handful of tools to take a look at now and for the future.

Getting your mind around technology, as in what to be using and how to best use them, was all the buzz at the recent Thomson Reuters Synergy 2015 conference in Orlando, Florida.

Here is just some of the hottest topics, as well as tips, on how to address your firm's future today:

Going Mobile

Before a firm decides it wants to go mobile and starts the research on how to get there, it's important that it thinks through the reason why it is moving in that direction, according to Christina Wiseman, product manager of Web Services & Mobile Technologies for the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters. “Are they trying to be more efficient or provide better client services? You should go with the ways that meet your business needs.”

Wiseman recommends three ways for firms to start the journey.

1. Look at how you're currently presenting technology to your clients. When your clients come in for a meeting, do you hand them a clipboard with a paper document to sign? Do you show them the tax return on your screen that you turn around for them to see? Or are they online themselves and signing documents through an iPad? How you handle technology with your clients in person can speak volumes about your firm's practices. Ask yourself, will moving to mobile techology make that experience better?

2. Investigate the cloud. Find out what this new technology can do for you. According to Wiseman, if you have all your client documentation on the cloud, then you can have that access anywhere. Look at how you can work with the cloud to have that access anytime – so if you have the information you need, when you need it, to answer any questions that might come up – whether you're in your office or not.

3. Use mobile tools for your own continuing education. People overlook this strategy when it comes to their own training, but using a mobile app to get CPE can really free up hours that would traditionally be spent at your desk in your office. Through apps, you can listen to a seminar or workshop anywhere – day or night, at your convenience.

5 Technologies to Keep in Mind

Brian Wood, senior consultant at Thomson Reuters, shared five technologies that are changing (or will change in the near future) the business and lives of many CPAs.

1. Tablets. It may seem obvious, but using tablets increases productivity. “It's something people are wishy-washy about, but it's proven to help a firm become more efficient and mobile,” said Wood.

2. USB-C cable. This cable can be a game-changer for those who travel often and are always struggling to keep track of their devices' cords. According to Wood, Apple and Chrome are starting to implement this adapter to their laptops. “You're now dealing with one type of cable, not carrying around a bunch of different ones,” Wood said. ‘It's more streamlined functionality.”

3. Robotics. Using robots is not that far off. As a CPA, take the time to think more about this technology as it relates to your clients' businesses. Understanding the role robotics can play can result in more intelligent decision-making when it comes to staff-related efficiencies.

4. 3D printing. Yes, this is already happening but it's been mainly inaccessible to most companies. This is changing. Traditional 3D printing can take hours; new emerging CLIP (Continuous Liquid Interface Production) technology can print 25 percent to 100 percent faster, which promises to transform manufacturing.

5. OLED monitors. These could be a huge hit with auditors who travel on-site as new emerging technology by LG in particular allows the flexible display to roll up to one inch in diameter. “Traditionally I'd have a laptop or USB-connected screen, but to be able to just roll up my monitor – I think that technology is absolutely amazing,” Wood said. Currently LG is showing 18-inch monitors now, but is planning a release of a 60-inch monitor in 2017.

Please feel free to share your favorite tips and tools for your firm and client work, as well as any questions related to technology adoption.

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