Increased business use of mobile devices is top IT challenge

Feb 15th 2011
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The proliferation of smartphones, tablet computers, and mobile devices in the workplace emerged for the first time as the top business technology concern for CPAs and financial executives, according to the 2011 Top Technology Initiatives Survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

The 22nd Annual AICPA Top Technology Initiative survey, conducted January 13-26, indicates that control and use of mobile devices was the No. 1 challenge for IT professionals. The finding was based on responses from nearly 1,400 CPAs nationwide specializing in information technology.

“The surging use of smartphones and tablets means people are doing business, exchanging sensitive data wherever, whenever they want to,” said Ron Box, CPA/CITP, CFF. “The technology is advancing so rapidly that the capabilities for controlling and protecting the information on mobile devices is lagging behind. What was once as simple as losing your phone, could now create an enormous security risk for organizations.”

In addition to mobile devices, the survey signaled future IT issues will revolve around implementation of touch-screen technology, deployment of faster networks, and voice recognition technology.

“Driving business value while managing risk means using technology solutions like encryption and asserting policy controls over what you can and can’t do remotely,” said Joel Lanz, CPA/CITP, CFF. “This is forcing IT professionals to think anew about how to manage networks and will now require a whole new level of communication with users.”

Lanz and Box are cochairmen of the AICPA’s Top Technology Initiatives task force which produces the annual survey to help CPAs who are trusted advisors to corporate executives and board audit committees. The survey captures and ranks the business-related technology challenges that CPAs across the country are helping clients and executives address as they assess the role of technology in their organizations. The survey data is intended to be a guide on technology issues as clients and executives turn for answers to CPAs, both in public practice and industry.

“This year’s results revealed a sharp focus on IT value – return on investment – coupled with unceasing attention to data security,” Box said.

Mobile devices are receiving more attention as technological advancement shifts productivity tools from desktops to pockets amid increasing reliance on mobile applications. Approximately 117 billion applications will be downloaded to mobile devises worldwide by the end of this year, according to researcher Gartner Inc.

Top Technology Initiatives 2011 ranking:

  • Control and Use of Mobile Devices
  • Information Security
  • Data Retention Policies and Structure
  • Remote Access
  • Staff and Management Training
  • Process Documentation and improvements
  • Saving and Making Money with Technology
  • Technology Cost Controls
  • Budget Processes
  • Project Management & Deployment of New Technology

The survey asked CPAs to identify the top technology questions asked by audit committees, chief financial officers, and chief information officers:

  • Is our information security policy adequate?
  • Are we ensuring that our data and technology resources are protected against hacking, viruses, or other compromises?
  • Are our current internal controls and IT governance policies and procedures effective?
  • How can we best implement document retention and e-discovery policies?
  • Can our data remain safe if we utilize cloud computing/software as a service (SaaS) services?

Looking over the horizon more than a year from now, CPAs were asked for the first time in this survey to predict the technologies they foresee rising in importance. The top future technologies are:

  • Touch-screen technology
  • Implementation of voice recognition
  • Deployment of faster 100GB LAN networks
  • High-performance supercomputing
  • Digital signage and displays
  • Introduction of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)


AICPA’s 2011 Top Technology Initiatives Survey webcast will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, March 15.

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