By Adrienne Gonzalez
This year's Digital CPA: 2012 CPA2Biz Cloud User Conference – the first of its kind – gathered nearly 400 accounting professionals in Washington, DC, for three days to discuss the changing landscape of the profession ushered in by exciting new technologies and how practitioners can more efficiently serve clients by making the most of these tools.
Sixty-four sessions were offered in three tracks: technology, hands-on training, and practice development. Conference attendees were treated to case studies that highlighted the benefits of Cloud-based accounting services and given tips on expanding their practice using technology tools. Training was conducted by conference partners Bill.com, Intacct, XCM, Paychex, and Confirmation.com.
In his Thursday morning keynote, AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon stressed the importance of next-generation technologies and how they are changing the way CPAs serve their clients for the better. "When we talk about the firm of the future, technology will be an essential component in extending the CPA's traditional role as trusted business advisor", he said.
The conference also featured a keynote presentation by tech consultant Geoffrey Moore, author of the best-selling business book Crossing the Chasm. In his talk, Moore stressed the Darwinian dynamic of a changing profession as more practitioners move from inefficient paper processes to highly efficient Cloud-based operations. One benefit of this change, he said, is having a "single source of truth" accessible to anyone at any time.
"Digital disruption is changing the competitive landscape for businesses", Moore said. "These trends are not going to reverse, so CPA firms must have a strategy in place to guide their clients through this transformation."
Moore also contributed research to a white paper released by CPA2Biz at the conference entitled "Accounting Services: Harness the Power of the Cloud." The paper discusses many of the same trends and transformational potential Moore addressed in his keynote, and it offers accounting firms seeking to take advantage of new technologies a road map to evolve their practice.
According to a recent survey released by the AICPA at Digital CPA, an overwhelming majority of CPAs say they have a role to play in technology adoption by their clients, and almost 40 percent see themselves as catalysts for innovation. A mere 17 percent say they play a minimal role or no role in helping clients embrace Cloud, mobile, and other emerging technologies. The survey – which polled 624 AICPA members representing a mix of small to large public accounting firms – also found that 11 percent of CPA firms already operate completely in the Cloud.
Moore stated there is no going back – these technologies are here to stay, they are continually improving, and they should be embraced by practitioners large and small. Preparing solid strategies for adopting technology, and providing insight and guidance to clients embracing emerging technologies that will improve the way they do business, are huge opportunities for CPAs to stay ahead of the game and to further solidify their reputation as trusted business advisors.