Information security, remote access, and control and use of mobile devices will have the greatest impact on CPAs’ technology initiatives over the next 12 months, according to the American Institute of CPAs’ 2012 Top Technology Initiatives Survey.

As in past years, the survey measures the anticipated impact of certain issues over the next 12 months for CPAs and their clients. The top three responses in 2011 were control and use of mobile devices, information security and data retention policies/structure.

“One of the key value drivers for CPAs is confidentiality and privacy,” said AICPA president and chief executive Barry Melancon. “When you see the world and technology evolving, a question for the future is when the under-20-year-old becomes the entrepreneur of the next 10 years, what is the privacy expectation they will have? Will they believe confidentiality and privacy is attainable the same way the Boomers did? Addressing these types of questions is important in determining how CPAs evolve.”

The 23rd Annual AICPA Top Technology Initiative survey was conducted Jan. 17 to Feb. 15. The findings were based on responses from 2,259 CPAs nationwide specializing in information technology. It was developed and managed by the AICPA’s IT Division, part of the institute’s Member Specialization and Credentialing.

This year’s survey asked respondents to rate their organizational goals for technology in the coming year. The leading technology priorities for 2012, and survey takers’ assessment of how well their organizations are meeting them, are:

1.    Securing the IT environment
2.    Managing and retaining data
3.    Managing risk and compliance
4.    Ensuring privacy
5.    Leveraging emerging technologies
6.    Managing system implementation
7.    Enabling decision support and managing performance
8.    Governing and managing IT investment/spending
9.    Preventing and responding to fraud
10.    Managing vendors and service providers

Survey takers indicated they are successfully meeting most of their technology priorities, from information protection and privacy to data management. A majority said their organization has appropriate policies in place to deal with data security concerns, and necessary steps have been taken to insulate IT networks and servers from cyber-attack. At the same time, CPAs were less certain about avoiding a data breach due to the loss of a laptop, tablet or other mobile device.

Melancon noted that opportunities exist for CPAs to better leverage emerging technology.

“Technology is transforming firms and enabling new services,” said Melancon. “The transformative aspect of technology cannot be denied, and there are lots of new firms also being created because of technology.”

The AICPA’s 2012 Top Technologies Initiatives Survey webcast for members of the profession will be held on April 4, from 2 to 4 pm EDT. CPAs who participate are eligible for credits for continuing professional education.