Greg: As you might imagine, we have many opportunities to partner with different vendors, representing many different products. Most are good, some not so much, and a few are excellent. Product Strategy listens to the marketplace (practitioners) to identify pain points, match them with solutions, and then size and sequence those opportunities. In other words, we go find best-of-breed products that will be most helpful to the profession and then present those products as part of our Trusted Business Advisor program.
Darren: You guys are launching a new event this October—the Digital CPA Conference. What is the goal of this conference and who should attend?
Greg: Digital CPA is the first-ever, Cloud user conference. It’s offered and co-sponsored by the AICPA and our strategic business solutions partners. It’s designed to help firms embrace Cloud technology as a strategic opportunity to move to a truly digital practice. There are several key groups that should attend, including client accounting services practice leaders; staff and users of our Cloud solutions, including Intacct, Bill.com, XCM, Confirmation.com, and Paychex; technology champions responsible for implementing Cloud solutions in their firms; and marketing directors or new business development directors.
Darren: One of the biggest challenges firm leaders face today is finding and selecting the right technology solutions. This is not an easy task, but an incredibly important one, because the right technology drives everything from firm workflow to profitability. What advice would you give firm leaders trying to navigate and make these decisions?
Greg: Selecting the right technology solutions is a really big challenge for firms. That’s why suites have done so well over the past dozen or so years. Firms used to be “best-of-breed” decision makers, and then the big suites started to come in and most of us migrated to a “good enough” style. In other words, if I needed a depreciation program, I would just buy the module from my suite, assuming is was good enough, but knowing full well that it wasn’t best of breed.
I see the Cloud changing that approach, and firms are beginning to use the Cloud to hook best-of-breed products to other best-of-breed products. It really is going to boil down to workflow, so “good enough” might not be good enough anymore if it affects workflow in a negative way. Vendors must open their platforms to allow other leading Cloud vendors to connect. This will be really powerful for the profession.
Darren: While you don’t seem to have retirement in mind any time soon, what advice do you have for the 50 or 60-somethings out there on positioning themselves for firm succession?
Greg: You’re right; I’m not going anywhere. As long as I’m having fun (and I am), my health is good (and it is), and my wife tolerates my crazy schedule (and she does), I’ll be right here trying to help firms work smarter and serve their clients more collaboratively. My advice to my almost-the-same-aged colleagues is to apply the same criteria, and keep having fun!
I would also say to build a firm that allows you to do whatever you want from wherever you want and enjoy it. Have fun, there is no set rule that when you hit 65 that says you have to stop having fun. I would also suggest that you find someone to mentor, because what you will find is that you learn just as much from the relationship as the person you are mentoring.