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Forty percent of CPAs "push innovation?" I'm not buying it

By Jody Padar
December 10, 2012

According to a recent AICPA technology survey, about 40 percent of CPAs “perceive themselves as catalysts for innovation for their clients.” Another 17 percent report that they “play a minimal role in helping clients embrace cloud, mobile, and other emerging technologies.” I don’t mean to come off as negative, but I simply can’t believe that the numbers are this high.

I’m a self-proclaimed cloud warrior...a truly digital CPA who runs my firm from the cloud (for six years now). As such, I’m on the road a great deal—speaking at conferences and networking with hundreds of firm owners. I talk incessantly about running a mobile firm and the value of cloud innovations, and most professionals look at me like I’m an alien.

For these folks, it’s a tough concept to grasp because it involves major change. And we all know that change isn’t easy for our profession. So, when I see that 40 percent of firms say they are catalysts for innovation, this alien feels like maybe a few of those folks are from outer space.

I want to address this gap in cloud and mobile adoption because it’s still fair to say that it’s a foreign idea to most. Based on my interactions with firm owners all year, I find that many CPAs are finding it hard to get past using the desktop version of QuickBooks, let alone adopt Xero for mobile accounting. It’s not so much about adopting new technology anymore as it is about adopting a new lifestyle—or what I call “workshift.”

Working digitally is a lifestyle change. It must infiltrate all aspects of firm operations if technology is to support us in working collaboratively with clients, communicating in a new and far more productive way, and helping our clients work more efficiently. This new workshift pushes us to do things differently, serve clients differently, to treat our employees differently…so it’s time to stop talking about the cloud and mobile and actually take action to change the professional lifestyle.

I am a bit frightened that 40 percent of CPAs (per the survey) perceive themselves as innovative, because it makes me think that we are on two different planets when it comes to defining true innovation.

Innovation is not using cloud and mobile technologies. It’s defining and applying the process utilizing the tool most effectively within your practice to enhance your professional lifestyle. We all must be on the same page first if a meaningful workshift is going to happen. While I’m clearly aggressive about my stance on this issue, it’s only because I’m passionate about helping the profession move forward. Rest assured that this alien comes in peace.


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