There was a time when the message going out to accounting firms was, You need to embrace new technology – there are computer programs that can make your life easier. For years we heard, “You need technology.” New and faster hardware, smaller disks, backup systems (translate: tape drives and zip drives and copies of your disks stored somewhere offsite). Maybe you had been using the same software program for a decade and were reasonably happy with it, but now it was Time For A Change and you had better get on board so that you can show your clients how savvy you are and be cutting edge and, most importantly, get the job done faster and more efficiently and with fewer errors.
Then the message changed to CLOUD and it got more forceful and we needed more advanced programs, smart phones, email addresses that don’t end in aol.com, a website for your company (seriously? You don’t have that YET?), and apps that could operate in the cloud, and the software companies and technology developers and accounting thought leaders seemed to be almost physically dragging the accountants along, trying to make sure they were aware of all of the wonderful solutions that were being offered if only people would open their eyes and minds to these treasures.
There was a momentum; you had to get on board and adopt new technology or you would be left behind, left out. There was a race among the developers of solutions to see who could be most effective in turning the heads of the members of the accounting profession, those stuck-in-their-old-ways number nerds who didn’t think they needed to update to this year’s new breed of fancy tech tools.
You could sense the urgency. Just talk to anyone who was using any sort of new latest-edition technology and you would immediately feel like you didn’t know enough, were being excluded from the conversation, were being scorned because surely you couldn’t be providing the best service to your clients. And watch out, because that other accountant with the newer technology and the fancier web site and the Twitter handle was going to take your clients away.
And then we got to the present day.
The tone has changed, as has the message. I hear it whenever I talk with people who are tuned into technology and the accounting profession. Unlike for the past several years, it’s now okay to be wherever you are on the technology timeline. Software producers are going to continue to make changes and improvements in their products, but you don’t have to change if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to apologize or defend yourself if you don’t want the latest version, the newest app, the fastest phone. Do what is best for you, your business, your clients – and you get to define what you mean by “best.”
Technology will continue to evolve, as will you, but you can take a deep breath and move at your own pace, and new solutions will be there for you whenever you are ready for them. Stephen Kelly, CEO of Sage, explained it so well. “We are here for our customers. When they are ready to move, we will give them the technology and the training they will need. It must be done on their schedule, not ours.”
See inside February 2016
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