2011 in Review … and Getting Ready for 2012

From the January 2012 Issue

As 2011 closes, my hope is that many of you can look back over the year and see real progress in your firms. Each year at the magazine, we conduct our annual Reader’s Survey, and I would like to share some of the results with you so you can compare your own progress with your peers. The following represent some key statistics about the profession as a whole:

  • 38% of firms currently have a website.
  • 52% are NOT currently using social media.
  • 37% are currently using portals for their clients; 23% are not, but plan to soon.
  • 20% are completely paperless; 56% are somewhat paperless.
  • 33% are using scan and organize tools in their tax process; 8% are using a scan, organize, and populate tool.
  • 31% are using online tools that allow them to collaborate in real-time with their clients’ accounting system; 17% are not currently using such tools.
  • 91% maintain networks on-premise instead of in the Cloud.
  • 50% use remote capabilities to login to their firms remotely.
  • 18% use one or more applications to get information delivered on a PDA or tablet device.

I took a look at the previous year Reader’s Survey to compare it to 2011 results, and I’m pleased to report that the number of firms moving toward technology is increasing — adopting advanced solutions at a steady rate. However, there is still a big divide between those who are implementing next-generation tools and those who are not. In fact, the CEO of one of the profession’s largest technology vendors indicated that he believes the numbers are better reflected by “40% of firms are surging ahead and roughly 60% are standing still.” That means there is still a lot of work to be done in educating accounting professionals on the direction they need to go to avoid being left behind.

The firms that are thriving are those that have a strategic plan in place and a clear understanding of the type of clients they want to serve. They also have a relentless desire to build a highly efficient internal system that allows them to streamline processes and operate at peak productivity year round. They are thought leaders who are always searching for the smartest technologies to augment their well-oiled machines.

Overall, I am excited and encouraged about 2012, especially as I look at the volume of innovative solutions being presented to the profession. As the integration story unfolds, I see the ability to create a single client database across applications — making sharing and exchanging of information incredibly easy and fast. Forward-thinking vendors are working on such exciting features as touchscreen technology. I witnessed this at the 2011 CCH User Conference where I was informed that the company is working on touchscreen for their tax solution. While at the 2011 Thomson Reuters User Conference, I was updated on the company’s future rollout of a solution that allows firms to brand their own unique mobile application for their clients. Amazing stuff all around!

It’s a great time to be in public accounting. So much is happening, and it’s all positive change from my vantage point. I would encourage each and every one of you to continue your journey to building a firm that is the very best. I hope you have a smooth busy season, and I look forward to seeing and communicating with you in 2012.

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