Intuit SVP Brad Smith spoke this morning at the CA CPA Society Technology and described what he termed "the five new faces of entrepreneurship". Smith listed Gen Y-ers, Baby Boomers, "mompreneurs", careerpreneurs. and immigrants as the groups that will start small businesses in large numbers over the next 10 years.
Smith's colleague, Steve Bludell, followed with specific advice to the participants regarding ways they might take advantage of the trends that Smith described. One of Blundell's tips that seemed to resonate well with the audience was that they develop ways to reach out to their client's teenage children offering basic financial and tax advice in hopes that the teens would eventually become clients. Together Smith and Blundell made a compelling case to encourage practitioners to think "future".
If Intuit offers this presentation as a road show, I'd highly recommend that you attend. This is good stuff.
In my 32+ years of experience with accountants practicing in small firms I have grown to understand that the thing they universally hate SECOND most is contacting clients about a past due balance. [The number ONE thing is obviously "not getting paid"!] That same reluctance regarding accounts receivable management often follows to these firm's small business clients. Last week while speaking at the New Jersey Society of CPA's Technology & Business Show I noticed a new exhibitor and stopped by for an introductory visit. I met Roger Gins, CEO of Call Motions, LLC and he demonstrated his company's web-enabled, automated accounts receivable collection management system.
www.AR-Connect.com provides a secure portal via which a business can upload their A/R aging report (generated from most popular accounting packages including QuickBooks, PeachTree, and Microsoft Office Accounting) and then, following rules and processes established by the individual businesses, have collection efforts undertaken automatically. The rules and processes can include emails, postcards, letters, and telephone calls --- and all are highly customizable. The genius in the process is that, while every step is automated, each step [can be] individually approved immediately prior to its implementation. This avoids the potential embarrassment of escalating efforts after a payment has been received. And the telephone call component has some clever twists, too. First, the system spoofs the called ID into displaying the businesses number rather than that of AR-Connect. And the message delivered allows the recipient to press a button and be connected directly to the business for more in-depth conversation. I like the design as it's completely transparent and all communications appear to come directly from the business owners rather than a service or agency.
If you and/or your clients hate asking to get paid, but hate not getting paid even more, then perhaps you might want to take a peek at AR-Connect.
The CPA Technology Advisor’s 2006 YEAR-IN-REVIEW DIGITAL EDITION features exclusive content and insight into what made 2006 a year to remember, including the “Top 10 Business Events of 2006” and the “Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2006.” Both of these special features are available only through this special Digital Edition.
The 2006 YEAR-IN-REVIEW DIGITAL EDITION uses an interactive format that lets you read it just like the print edition of the magazine, flipping through pages with a click of your mouse. It also includes exclusive podcast interviews that allow you to hear from industry thought leaders as they discuss trends and technologies that are shaping the tax and accounting professions.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, or even more so a regular listener to Intersection Live, you'll particularly enjoy this edition. Please give it a try --- and also, please let me know your opinion of this type of delivery method for content. I want to know your thoughts, positive and negative. Your feedback is essential to our planning process. As readers (and listeners) you represent the leading (bleeding?) edge of technology adaptation in the profession of public accounting. We'll go where you direct us, and the rest of the profession will follow!
Thanks .... and a really wonderful holiday and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.
Thomson Creative Solutions kicked off their 26th Annual User's Conference in Orlando Thursday with CEOJon Baron at the podium leading the 700+ attendees through his vision for the role of technology in accounting firms communications with their clients. His quote (see title) refers to those vendors touting OCR and forms recognition as opposed to the Thomson implementation of 2D bar codes. Baron stated that his developers had pioneered a 2D bar-code standard for W2s and offered the technology to any and all competitors in the business. His explained that only by wide adoption would practitioners find real value in this technology --- a technology he groups with OCR and refers to as "transitional" in that eventually taxpayers will gather their tax data electronically and deliver it digitally via a secure portal to their practitioner where, through the magic of XML it will be harvested and auto magically entered into the tax compliance software application. Baron refers to this as "zero-data entry" and states that his company's efforts are targeting this eventuality. [I interviewed Baron extensively on this topic --- that audio will be available late next week on Intersection Live.]
Baron's address included demonstrations of Practice CS as an example of a state of the art .Net, Sequel, C# developed product. The crowd murmured approval as he detailed a Firm, Staff, and Client "view" and showed how each might move through their day monitoring various dashboard elements.
One of Baron's main points was "First is best" and the crowd reaction to his product demonstrations seemed to support the claim.
Note to JAB: I'm glad you've come around to EVDO --- but remember EVDO is BUILT IN the Treo 700 so many have dumped the card and their Blackberry in favor of a single device!
Tonight I led a roundtable discussion on blogging and podcasting. This post is being prepared live from the floor of the conference. My new friends, Terry and Jeff, want to say "Hi" and have these suggestions for CSI regarding new product development:
1. Extend FileCabinet CS to the client level.
2. Remove the artificial boundary between NetStaff CS and NetClient CS.
CCH's CEO Kevin Robert was kind enough to invite me to join him and practitioner David Morgan for two panel sessions today at the 2006 CCH User Conference currently underway in Boca Raton, FL. The breakouts were titled "Preparing for the Future: Where is Our Industry Headed?" and each was attended by around 50 conference registrants. CCH billed the sessions as follows: The firm of the future is right around the corner. Join our group of panelists for a frank discussion on where the industry is headed when it comes to issues like technology, going paperless, and staffing challenges.
While the two sessions were quite different in some ways, in others they were quite similar. Common themes were staffing, specifically talent attraction and retention, outsourcing, credentialing, and technology's role as an enabler to solve these and other problems facing the profession. On an interesting side note --- one astute attendee took the Conference planners to task for using the word "industry" instead of the more appropriate "profession". Moderator Bob Dias deftly apologized with his usual engaging smile and a quick "Good point. Duly noted." Extra point to CCH for a speedy, honest answer to an innocent oversight. Dias' charm was helpful and he made his company look good --- perhaps better even than if they had not erred in the first place!
The remainder of the conference seems to be a huge hit, too. Virtually every attendee I've talked to has been happy with the facility, the food, the special events and the particularly with the content. The "mini trade show" of about a dozen hand-selected vendors appears to have added a nice balance and the firm size arrangement of the round table discussions was a big hit.
This conference will most definitely be on my schedule for next year (assuming they invite me back!) -- if you're a ProFx suite user it's one you should probably consider it, too.
Tomorrow it's north to Orlando for the Thomson CSI conference. More on that to come!
CCH kicked off it's second annual User Conference this morning at the beautiful Boca Raton Resort and Club. Over 500 attendees are here, joined by 125+ CCH staffers and about a dozen hand-picked vendors offering services and products ancilliary to those provided by CCH. After opening remarks by Executive VP Mike Sabbatis the general session heard CEO Kevin Robert report on his company's continuing committment to the profession, to technology, and specificaly in today's troubling areas of "knowledge management" and "talent management". Robert skillfully walked the group through the scary statistics --- reminding them us of the looming problem that 75% of the AICPA membership will be eligible to retire in 15 years --- oops, he said, make that 14 years. Last year it was 15! His remarks were particularly well suited to introduce the keynoter --- Bruce Tulgan.
Tulgan is internationally recognized as a leading expert on young people in the workplace. He has authored or coauthored fifteen different books and numerous management training programs, and those in attendance this morning would tell you he is a world-class keynote speaker. [Complete bio here.] He extoled the attendees (from my vantage point virtually all "baby boomers" and older) about the trials and tribulations of people management in general and management of Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers in specific. Gone are the days of the "pay your dues and eventually you'll make partner", having been replaced by what he termed as "just in time loyalty". Tulgan's emphasis was in solid support of the development plan described earlier by Robert --- knowledge management and talent management.
Attendees were treated to a complimentary copy of Tugan's book entitled "Winning the Talent Wars".
PS: Watch www.TheTechgap.com the next several days for more on this and the upcoming Thomson CSI and Sleeter Conferences.
K2 Enterprises today announced the recipients of their annual quality awards as follows:
Reseller Program – SYSPRO CPA Program – MPAN – Microsoft, Inc. Installation Channel/Methodology – Doc-It, Inc. Reseller Channel – SouthWare, Inc. New Product – XCM Workflow – XCM Solutions, Inc. New Module – Scan – CCH, a Wolters Klewer business New Technology – Hewlett Packard Management Strategy – Open Systems, Inc. Technical Support – Sage Software, Inc. Ease of Use – QuickBooks – Intuit, Inc. Marketing Communications – Avalara, Inc. Overall Quality – Business One – SAP, Inc. Tax & Audit – CCH, Inc. Customer Satisfaction – Altec, Inc. Accounting Industry Press Coverage - The CPA Technology Advisor
“The 2006 awards were the closest votes to date. In the past we have had more clear winners. 2006 saw many new products in our list of winners.”, said CEO Val Steed. Steed went on to say that K2 continues to grow dramatically it’s loyal client base in the CPA industry for CPE training. “Our attendees are frequent users, recommenders and buyers of computer technology. These attendees have direct experience with many vendors and products. When our attendees are happy with a vendor or their product, we hear about it directly from them in our seminars. They discuss their successes and business improvements. When they are unhappy, we also find out what is causing their issues. This motivated us to start our quality awards to recognize vendors that are listening to their constituents. Each year we are thrilled to honor those that understand and support the CPA community”.
As part of their service and consulting to the CPA industry, K2 regularly reviews both hardware and software products for software publishers and hardware manufacturers. These products are used by CPAs in both public practice and industry. “Great value, vision, and consistency are recognized by our CPA attendees. When companies are innovating, we can see the quality of their products and/or services improving before the market, as a whole, recognizes the changes,” said K2 Executive Vice-President, Randy Johnston. Johnston, who speaks and writes on computer technology for K2, is very pleased with this year’s winners.
K2 Enterprises is the premier provider of technology continuing professional education (CPE) in both the United States and Canada. With seminars in over 47 states in 2006, 800+ presentations, special events such as their turn-key Annual Technology Conferences, CPE & Ski, the 2006 launch of K2 Enterprises - Canada, they are the largest provider of technology CPE in North America.
“CPAs as a whole are finally realizing that technology is an integral part of the accounting knowledge needed by CPAs. Accountancy Boards are considering adding mandatory technology training education to licensing requirements. There is even talk of adding a technology section to the CPA exam. The future of accounting technology training is bright according to Will Fleenor CFO, went on to say, “The cornerstone of K2’s success is that we successfully combine traditional accounting CPE with technology education to provide participants with practical solutions.”
K2 Enterprises Annual Quality Awards are determined by an opinion poll of the K2 Enterprises instructor team. The polling members of this team are Randy Johnston, Will Fleenor, Val Steed, Bob Spencer, Alan Salmon, Lawrence (Mac) McClelland, Tommy Stephens, Brian Tankersley, Bob Gaby & David Cieslak. Their votes are influenced by, end user feedback, and experience from consulting and extensive teaching. Detailed biographies on each of the polled members can be found at: http://www.k2e.com/team
Our friend Rich Oppenheim has been pondering the idea of CHECKING his laptop! As far as I'm concerned that will happen when the TSA workers pry my cold, dead fingers off my tablet ..... er, ah .... well, maybe Rich is right and we should start at least considering the possibility.
Until now, when your laptop traveled with you, it was safely stored in the same location as you - under your seat, in the overhead bin or on your lap. With the threats impacting every aspect of air travel, your laptop may soon not be allowed to travel with you.
Checking your laptop as luggage presents a few problems. First, the loss of work time while at the airport and in the air. Second is the possibility of the laptop being stolen. Third is the potential for damage while the luggage handlers play Frisbee with the bags.
A few ideas to overcome the risks: Lost work time – plan your work time well Stolen laptop – backup your data, use passwords, remove sensitive data before travel Damage – use a better protective case. Consider the Otter Box.
Of course, one can use all sorts of technology to reduce both the need to travel and travel time itself and therefore reduce all sorts of risks.
You're probably aware that I attend a LOT of conferences, conventions, seminars, and trade shows. The two most common complaints from attendees at these events seem to be "I can't hear" and "it's too loud". It seems that trade show floors have become audio battlegrounds, decibels the ammunition, and attendee ears the casualties of war. At the Illinois CPA Foundation's 2006 Business & Technology Solutions Show last week in Chicago I was [again] asked to lead "Walking Tours" on the show floor. Once each day I led a group of ~50 brave accountants across the trade show in search of new and exciting technologies to add productivity and profitability to their practices. This year I was prepared and had asked the show organizers to equip each stop with a portable public address system to ensure that their presenters would be heard. From my perspective it was a huge improvement --- unfortunately, for those in neighboring booths my "solution" was their "problem". I had simply exacerbated the problem and while my walking tour attendees were happy, others clearly were not. Fortunately for those offended by our volume, we moved quickly, thereby spreading the pain. Others have adopted this electronic solution, too --- I noticed no fewer that a dozen powered microphones on the floor, each trying mightily to drown out the others.
Then, right in the center of the cacophony, I noticed an auditory oasis. The Microsoft booth designers had wisely (and mercifully!) designed their training center to include headphones for each learner! Surrounded by 200 booths and several thousand attendees, all being barked at electronically by vendors trying to get some level of attention, was an open classroom with 20 or so accountants seated classroom style. The instructor stood at a podium and was flanked by twin 42" monitors. Each attendee station included a laptop computer and, much to my ear's delight, a set of headphones. The instructor spoke softly, or at least normally, into a headset and the entire group heard and followed ---- seemingly oblivious to the relentless droning surrounding them. Amazing!
A tip of the hat to Bob Lewis, Microsoft's Senior Marketing Manager for Accounting Professionals, and his people for thinking of their neighbors and implementing some basic technology along with some not-so-common sense. My conversations with those who had participated in these headphone-enabled on-floor CPE sessions revealed that, to a person, they were highly impressed with the variety and quality of Microsoft's offerings.
Reminds me of what Teddy said .... "Walk softly and carry a big stick." ..... er, "Talk softly and carry a supply of headphones!"