AICPA Announces 2004 Top 10 Technologies

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The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has announced its roster of Top 10 Technologies for 2004. These are the items expected to wield a powerful influence over business in the coming year.

The 2004 list breaks two records. First, there are seven items debuting as AICPA Top Technologies. Second, the 2004 survey saw the greatest number of participants – 263 – in the Top 10 Technologies' 14-year history.

Spam Technology, a new issue, came in at number two, not surprising in light of the ongoing debate about the need to protect consumers from the cyberspace equivalent of junk mail. Ironically, Privacy – number 10 in the 2003 ranking – has disappeared from the list.

Some of the older issues, however, are still relevant, though there's been a shift in their importance. Wireless Technologies and Disaster Recovery Planning make repeat showings, but have swapped their 2003 positions. Wireless Technologies is now at number five, and Disaster Recovery Planning moved down a notch to number six.

The following is the complete 2004 Top 10 Technologies roster (those marked with an asterisk are new to the list):

  1. Information Security. The hardware, software, processes and procedures in place to protect an organization's systems. It includes firewalls, anti-virus, password management, patches and locked facilities, among others.
  2. Spam Technology*. The use of technology to reduce or eliminate unwanted e-mail. Technologies range from confirmation of the sender via ISP lookup to methods where the recipient accepts e-mail only from specific senders.
  3. Digital Optimization*. Also known as “The Paperless Office.” The process of capturing and managing documents electronically (i.e., PDF and other formats).
  4. Database and Application Integration*. The ability to update one field and have it automatically synchronize between multiple databases. An example would be the transfer of data between disparate systems.
  5. Wireless Technologies. The transfer of voice or data from one machine to another via the airwaves without physical connectivity.
  6. Disaster Recovery. The development, monitoring and updating of the process by which organizations plan for continuity of their business in the event of a loss of business information resources due to theft, weather damage, accidents or malicious destruction.
  7. Data Mining*. The methods by which a user can sift through volumes of data to find specific answers.
  8. Virtual Office*. The technologies, processes and procedures that allow personnel to work effectively, either individually or with others, regardless of physical location.
  9. Business Exchange Technology*. The natural evolution from EDI to greater business transaction and data exchange via the Internet using datasets that are transported easily between programs and databases (e.g., XBRL).
  10. Messaging Applications*. Applications that permit users to communicate electronically, including e-mail, voicemail and instant messaging.

The survey also explored Emerging Technologies, which may not have current commercial impact, but in the next two or three years are certain to affect businesses and individuals. The five Emerging Technologies are:

  1. ID/Authentication. Verifying either the identity of a user who is logging onto a computer system or the integrity of a transmitted message.
  2. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). RFID tags, which consist of silicon chips and an antenna that can transmit data to a wireless receiver, could one day be used to track everything from soda cans to cereal boxes. Unlike bar codes, radio tags do not require line-of-sight for reading.
  3. 3G Wireless. Designed for high-speed multimedia data and voice.
  4. Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). A message-based protocol based on XML for accessing services on the Internet.
  5. Autonomic Computers. Tools and strategies to manage and maintain all systems across the enterprise, including system maintenance, upgrades, automatic patching and self-healing. (e.g. ZenWorks, Unicenter TNG, management alerts).This is an approach toward self-managed computing systems with a minimum of human interference. The term derives from the body's autonomic nervous system, which controls key functions without conscious awareness or involvement.

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