Transitioning to a Paperless Office. We are just starting the process and believe it can be of enormous benefit. There are a lot of products and options available and selecting the proper one is critical.
Karen Kerber, CPA
Kerber, Rose & Associates.
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I think "Paperless" should be near the top of the list. Many firms will be taking this big step (or at least a small step in this direction) in 2005. The firms like us that are "paperless" will continue to modify processes to improve efficiencies and standardization to take advantage of this new way of doing work.
Kennedy and Coe
I feel that integrating Radio Frequency Identification transactions into clients' enterprise systems will a major event in 2005. Microsoft Business Solutions has already announced that it is expanding the scope of its RFID initiative to help small and mid-market segment businesses meet RFID technology compliance mandates from large trading partners and drive efficiencies in internal operations.
I would suggest it is the affordable integration of Web-based activities to existing applications. The need to effectively communicate between supplier and vendor is becoming an ever-increasing issue of importance for most midsize business owners. The time frame between order to shipment is expected to dramatically decrease and to be competitive organizations must be cognizant of this trend and avail themselves of Web functionality.
Business Management International
New York, N.Y.
I think the top technology issue is application consolidation. Business software products have matured enough that there is little to differentiate between them. Features are no longer a significant issue because the differences are so small. The real advantage now is how well these various products can communicate with each other. The products that use the same databases will have an advantage over those that use separate databases and have to update or synchronize. The additional cross-referencing that can be done with single databases far exceeds what can be reasonably done with separate databases, even if the DBMS is the same.
Reporting and data mining, which is actually Business Intelligence, is the most important. The traditional method of reporting has always been to use static reports that can often lead to more questions. Those questions often take a long process to answer. BI and data mining will empower the end users to get their questions answered online and quickly.
Dynamic Systems International
I believe it will be the migration of mid-market companies to VOIP technologies as they become more affordable and more easily made operational.
In one word-viruses. As a result, Internet security is extremely important. Firewalls, virus scans, policies for email and Internet usage, spam filters, spy checker and pop up blockers are also extremely important. The onslaught will only get worse so you need to be ready with all the utilities available. If businesses do not get on top of this issue with preventative measures, they will experience a compromised computer system.
Weinlander Fitzhugh CPAs
Bay City, Mich.
The big players are just now starting to add document management to their "suites" of products. I believe those firms that have not implemented a document management solution by the end of 2004 (and that would be most firms) will wait until after tax season 2005 to start that process. During 2005, the struggle for most will be to select the vendor and go through the process of looking at internal work and paper flow to accommodate the solution (internal or outsourced) for document management.
James C. Bourke, CPA, CITP
Red Bank, N.J.