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Technology

Byron Patrick, CPA.CITP, MCSE — 33

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Co-Founder & CEO, Simplified Innovations

Baltimore, MD

Education: B.S. in Accounting from Salisbury State University

Professional Associations/Memberships: Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) — Board of Directors, Technology Committee, Past Chair and cofounder of the New/Young Professional Network, Tomorrow’s CPA Speaker, Instructor; AICPA — Information Technology Executive Committee for 2009-2011, CPA Ambassador, Virtual Grass Roots Committee; Baltimore Emerging Technology Council — Affiliate Member, Member of Ambassador Council; Boomer Knowledge Network — Contributor

Hobbies: Coaching Daughter’s Lacrosse and Soccer, spending time with my family, golf once in a blue moon…

Cell phone: iPhone

Favorite app: BUSINESS: Citrix Receiver. It allows me to open a full Windows Desktop session on both the iPhone and iPad. It can be limiting on the iPhone due to the screen size, but just to do something really quick or to lookup a piece of information, it is awesome. PERSONAL: Pandora. I almost rarely even use the iPod on my phone anymore. Pandora is great at giving me the music I’m in the mood for.

 

Are you using social networking (such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook) as a marketing tool for your practice/business … or do you use such sites for personal use only? Have you gained any clients or seen other demonstrable benefits from the use of social networking? Yes I use Twitter and LinkedIn. These sites have been great for making connections and generating leads. I use Twitter to share information and hopefully create some level of confidence in SII’s position as being experts in the field of technology … particularly where it affects tax and accounting professionals. LinkedIn is primarily used to organize the relationships and either leverage them to help find new relationships or somewhat as a resume for prospective clients. We have not created and direct business yet but have been able to generate a decent amount of traffic to our site and have generated potential clients. However, we have had potential clients find us in these places, and it has helped support the sales process. It won’t be long before a new client comes from one of them.

SII also has a blog (http://goapps.us/blog) that we use to share information, and we also participate in a number of blogs online. While this is more Web 2.0 and not social networking, it does tie together and overlap at times.

What pitfalls or what unwritten rules of social networking etiquette exist, which are frequently missed by others in the profession? TMI — Too Much Information!! If you want to share personal antidotes about your day, save them for personal social networking tools such as Facebook or a personal Twitter account. Too Much Content! Twitter and all the other status update tools are great, but if one user is dominating my content stream, I stop following them. The content is only as good as the information that is being shared. If a person is sharing every article that is already on the front page of Google news, than I don’t need them Tweeting it all to me. Keep your Tweets to content that you have actually read and believe is worth sharing.

How many hours of the day are you plugged in and responsive to client needs? And what tools/products make it possible for you to have flexibility? I am plugged in 24 hours a day. As long as I have an Internet connection, I am able to assist our clients who are able to work anytime a day from anywhere in the world. Therefore, I am available to help them as they need it. Critical tools include iPhone, laptop, Internet and Citrix GoToAssist. Each of these is just as critical as the other and used on a daily basis.

Do you embrace cloud computing? Simplified Innovations is a cloud computing enabler for  tax and accounting firms, so the answer is a 100 percent YES! Our entire network infrastructure lives in the cloud. So despite our distributed workforce, we have centralized data and applications available to us from anywhere Internet is available.

How is cloud computing changing the accounting profession, and how concerned are you with the security issues related to cloud computing? Cloud computing is changing the accounting profession probably more than almost any profession out there. People don’t realize how much technology the accounting profession uses. It is significantly more than almost any other not-IT specific industry. With the tools delivered by cloud computing, tax and accounting professionals are able to deliver significantly better products and services to their clients and the public. Both SaaS and PaaS providers like us are able to enable accountants with tools that used to be inaccessible to smaller organizations. Not only are they now accessible, they are accessible from anywhere they can get Internet. The playing field is getting leveled out for everyone in the accounting profession. It is very powerful!

Do you foresee the majority of firms still implementing servers for the majority of their computing in their offices five years from now or do you think they will be outsourcing this component to vendors who specialize in this area? I hope the answer is absolutely outsourcing! Tax and accounting professionals are successful because their clients outsource certain operations to them because they are the experts. The same philosophy should hold true for firms. We work with so many clients that used to lose sleep at night managing their backups (which usually are not working anyway.) This is not productive time for someone with responsibilities to their clients and employees. By fully outsourcing the technology, businesses can have access to better and more reliable technology that is managed by experts. It often reminds me of the Verizon Wireless commercials and “The Network” or army of people following cell phone users around… it’s a perfect analogy.

Do you subscribe to a magazine and/or local newspaper? Nope. Google News and Twitter tend to be my biggest sources of identifying useful information and news for me. Physical media is dead to me; it’s outdated by the time you pick it up.

What ONE piece of technology could you absolutely not live without? The Internet. Without it, I would be dead in the water. The Internet allows me to stay connected from just about anywhere I am. I need to be connected to my clients, to my family, to my business partner, to my network and everything else out there. It is also what gives our clients the ability to work via our systems in a secure fashion. The Internet is the ultimate enabler!

What is an “old school” business practice or process you’d like to see changed in the next five years and why? FAX Machines! They don’t seem to die. A week rarely goes by without someone wanting to either fax me or ask me to fax them something. There are so many new technologies for sending information securely that it is time to retire the fax machine.

NOT including your current employer, what company do you most admire and why? At the moment, I would have to say Google. They have such a keen sense of innovation; it amazes me. I think a lot of large companies eventually get too big, and innovation eventually dies. They might make some new twist or improvements on existing products but rarely do they introduce something that makes you say, “Wow!” Google is consistently innovating and finding ways to impact our daily lives through technology. While everything they release isn’t necessarily a hit, they still put it out there. I hope my company will always be maintaining such a vision for innovation.

Do you use online resources like webcasts for CPE training? Absolutely. It depends on the topic and the speaker, but even if there isn’t CPE offered it’s a great way to take advantage of learning new information conveniently.

Do you listen to podcasts? I think they are great. Unfortunately, I don’t take advantage of them as often as I would like to.

How many monitors on your desk? Two. But the second is a 27-inch wide screen … this is much simpler to implement and more flexible than working with triple monitors.

What operating system and version of Microsoft Office is installed on your work computer? Windows 7 and Office 2010, both excellent upgrades from Microsoft!

What are some ways your firm/business has gone “paperless” and/or “green” in the last two years? Simplified Innovations only maintains electronic documentation of all client information. Through the utilization of OneNote and SharePoint, we are able to maintain centralized, organized and searchable information of everything we need to operate. In addition, Simplified Innovations utilizes virtual server technologies, which allows us to cut our electric consumption by 80 percent of what would be otherwise required by all dedicated hardware.

What sports team/championship event do you absolutely refuse to miss? My daughters’ activities, dance recitals, theater, L.A. (soccer, basketball, etc.), Denver Broncos, Super Bowl.

What are some of your favorite books, movies, music, websites, and TV shows? Book – “Good to Great” by Jim Collins; Movies – “Top Gun”, “The Number 23”, “Billy Madison”, “The Matrix;” Music – Wide variety! Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson, The Dirty Heads, Eminem, The Doors; Websites – Google, CPASuccess.com, LinkedIn; TV – “Survivor”, “Wipe Out”, “Two and a Half Men.”