Managing and retaining data, as well as securing the IT environment topped the list of technology initiatives driven by North American CPAs, according to a joint survey by the American Institute of CPAs and Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

These and other findings were part of the 2013 North American Top Technology Initiatives Survey marking the first time the two associations partnered on this survey.

Also worth noting IT security had led the list of initiatives for nine of the past 10 years. This is the first time the survey has been conducted jointly in both the U.S. and Canada.

Additional findings showed that CPAs are less confident in their organizations’ ability to successfully address several underlying technology priorities than they were a year ago. Last year, a majority of U.S. survey takers said they were successfully meeting goals in eight of 10 top initiatives. This year, the U.S. portion of the survey identified only two such categories. 

Canadian respondents were slightly more upbeat--a majority expressed confidence in four of 10 initiatives for 2013.

“The good news is that accounting professionals in both the United States and Canada feel comfortable in handling what they view as their two top priorities for the coming year–data management and IT security,” said Jeannette Koger, director of member specialization and credentialing for the AICPA. “As we go down the list, we see concerns about dealing with emerging technologies such as mobile devices and the cloud, managing IT spending and preventing computer fraud. These are issues that all businesses in North America are struggling to confront, to some degree.”

For U.S. CPA firms the top 10 technology initiatives were:

1. Managing and Retaining Data

2. Securing the IT Environment

3. Managing IT Risks and Compliance

4. Ensuring Privacy

5. Managing System Implementation

6. Preventing and Responding to Computer Fraud

7. Enabling Decision Support and Analytics

8. Governing and Managing IT Investment and Spending

9. Leveraging Emerging Technologies

10. Managing Vendors and Service Providers

Canadian CPAs had a similar list of top technology initiatives, but differed in importance in some areas. An AICPA webcast that drills down into the survey results is available on July 16 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The CPE-eligible event is $106, but various discounts are available for AICPA members, members of the Institute’s Information Management and Technology Assurance section and Certified Information Technology Professional credential holders.
The 2013 Top Technology Initiatives Survey was conducted electronically among AICPA members from Feb. 11 to March 6, with 1,670 complete responses received. Some 36 percent of U.S. survey takers were in public accounting, 36 percent were in business and industry posts, and 28 percent work in consulting, government or not-for-profit organizations. Most participants said they regularly encounter IT-related questions in their line of work.

An identical survey was conducted among CAs (chartered accountants) and CPAs in Canada from Feb. 14 to March 5, with 219 responses received. 

Topline results are available online through the AICPA or CPA Canada.