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Technology

Joe Harpaz, CPA.CITP — 37

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Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Tax Technology, Thomson Reuters

Hoboken, NJ

Education: MS, Finance, Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business; BS, Computer and Electrical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Civic Involvement: March of Dimes – March for Babies

Hobbies: Basketball, Tennis, Chess and Poker

Cell phone: iPhone (personal) and BlackBerry (work)

Favorite app: Sonos + Rhapsody – I can play any song I could every want to listen to anywhere in my house.

 

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? The nature of my specific business doesn’t lend itself all that well to social networking. I do maintain a growing set of contacts through LinkedIn and have found it primarily to be a tool for people looking for job opportunities to connect with me. My Human Resources department also uses LinkedIn mainly to attract and drive candidates to our regular job postings.

What pitfalls or what unwritten rules of social networking etiquette exist, which are frequently missed by others in the profession?

I think there is confusion by people as to what crosses from professional networking to personal or social networking. For example, should you befriend coworkers, colleagues and customers on Facebook where you may be posting family photos and events? I am not sure what the rules are on that, written or unwritten. People do need to remember that anything they put online has visibility and longevity … so extra caution has to be taken when writing things online.

How many monitors do you have on your desk? Two

What operating system and version of Microsoft Office is installed on your work computer? Mac OS X + Windows XP

What are some ways your firm/business has gone “paperless” and/or “green” in the last two years? We utilize Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE Workflow Manager to manage our document-based workflows and file storage. We utilize an internal website to post all of our project work online to reduce printing. Our office has automatic light sensors in each office to turn lights on and off. We’ve gotten rid of paper cups for coffee and supplied all employees with mugs. Each workspace and office has two trashcans, one for paper, and the other for regular trash. We also sponsored an annual “Earth Day” event in April, where we educated the staff on the importance of the environment and of recycling.

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 all day, although I try not to look at my BlackBerry when I’m with people and in meetings. Client needs are primarily handled via email, and I receive my voicemails in email, as well. When issues are escalated by employees, they typically text me or call my cell phone. I usually get back to employees within a few hours.

Do you embrace cloud computing? Yes, although it’s in its infancy stage when it comes to corporate tax technology. All of our applications are available as hosted solutions to our customers, and we maintain massive data center infrastructure in Thomson Reuters. Our ONESOURCE platform is a truly global and web native platform where third parties, including accounting firms, will soon be able to build their own applications and workflows in our environment without having to maintain their own infrastructure or development environments. We are effectively evolving from delivering Software as a Service (SaaS) to delivering a corporate tax platform as a service — our own global tax technology cloud.

How is cloud computing changing the accounting profession, and how concerned are you with the security issues related to cloud computing? It hasn’t yet. Security and privacy will continue to becoming a growing issue.

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 believe most firms as well as corporate tax departments will be leveraging hosted applications (SaaS and cloud-based) to specialized vendors. There will be little reason or justification to support and maintain internal applications and hardware. Only the largest companies with existing investments and commitments to internal IT will have reason to consider internal management of applications, and even that will be hard to justify. The benefits of web- and cloud-based solutions are just too compelling.

What ONE piece of technology could you absolutely not live without? Everything “i” — my iMac, iPhone and iPad. It’s so hard to pick one. My latest love affair is my iPad; I can do everything from running the music system in my house to reading the latest spy novel to watching a movie on a plane. How can you live without that?

NOT including your current employer, what company do you most admire and why? I know it’s almost cliché, but I have to say Apple. Apple’s ability to create products that people desire and love transcends what any other tech company is currently doing.

Do you subscribe to a magazine and/or local newspaper? I subscribe to the Sunday NY Times. I read everything else online.

Do you use online resources like webcasts for CPE training?

I use Checkpoint from Thomson Reuters for all my tax and accounting content needs.

Do you listen to podcasts? Not really.

What is an “old school” business practice or process you’d like to see changed in the next five years and why? I would like to see the removal of the CC and BCC concepts in email. Inboxes are getting too full; communication needs to be more specific and targeted or information overload will drown everyone.

What sports team/championship event do you absolutely refuse to miss? NBA Finals, Super Bowl Sunday and the U.S. Open Tennis championship.

What are some of your favorite books, movies, music, websites, and TV shows? I’ve been reading Daniel Silva spy novels lately and watching “Burn Notice” on USA.