Tomorrow's Professionals Just Can't Get Their Heads Out of the Cloud

Hundreds of tax and accounting professionals gathered at the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City May 2-3, 2012, for the Fourth Annual Accounting Technology New York Show and CPE Conference.

Rick Richardson, CPA.CITP, Richardson Media & Technologies, kicked off the conference with his presentation on the future of technology. Richardson reviewed his predictions from last year, highlighted some of the current trends and provided a forecast for the different aspects of technology over the next five years. Cloud service management will be a huge trend for 2012 and it will change customer expectations.

The future of cloud technology in accounting seemed to be the resounding theme as presenters spoke to attendees about how to successfully integrate online services and client portals into current accounting systems and firm websites to eliminate inefficiencies present in current practices. Some of the profession’s leading experts shared best practices and tips for successful implementation of cloud and online services. Presenters stressed that times were rapidly changing and an increasing number of firms and accountants, as well as the general public, were adopting the latest technology, particularly mobile devices and apps. In addition, more practices are closing their physical doors and replacing them with virtual offices - allowing them to conduct business from anywhere using their smartphones and tablets.

“Today is an opportunity to reclaim small business clients by standardizing processes and providing much better services than just accounting software,” said Erik Asgeirsson, President & CEO, CPA2Biz, Inc.

One of the biggest challenges for firms and their clients is successful change management, not technology, shared Asgeirsson. Firms either do not have the right processes in place or do not adhere to the processes once they are in place. Once a practice makes the decision to utilize web services and client portals, the real change starts internally. Firms have to rollout the new process to their staff members, ensuring that everyone is trained on the new processes and understands the value these processes will add to the firm.

Next, create a strategy to roll out the change to your current and future clients. It’s important to help your clients understand that many aspects of their lives already exist in client portals and the Cloud. If your client is on Facebook, use online banking or even email and video chat, they have already been introduced to the same technology you are trying to get them to use. Larry Harding, CPA, CEO and Founder, High Street Partners, suggests professionals implement changes with new clients first, giving existing clients a chance to see the benefits cloud services have to offer and how easy and secure they are to use.

“Cloud-based accounting has everything accountants and clients need,” said Chandra Bhansali, President, AccountantsWorld.

This year’s speakers were:
Rick Richardson, CPA.CITP, Richardson Media & Technologies
Darren Root, CPA.CITP, Managing Partner, Root & Associates LLC and Executive Editor, CPA Practice Advisor
Chandra Bhansali, President, AccountantsWorld
Jim Baker, Publisher, CPA Practice Advisor
MB Raimondi, CPA.CITP, MS Taxation, Intuit Solution Provider
Christina Kellerhals, MBS, Product Manager, Web Services & Mobile, Thomson Reuters
Gregory L. LaFollette, CPA.CITP, CPA2Biz, Inc.
Gail A. Perry, CPA, Author, Editor-in-Chief, AccountingWEB
Rick Telberg, President & CEO Bay Street Group LLC
Erik Asgeirsson, President & CEO, CPA2Biz, Inc.
James C. Bourke, CPA.CITP, Partner, WithumSmith+Brown, PC
David A. Bergstein, CPA.CITP, Director of Strategic Relationships, CCH, a Wolters Kluwer Business
Max T. Krotman, J.D., Managing Partner, Globalforce International
Justin M. Schafer, Regional Business Development Officer, Bank of America Practice Solutions