At the 25th annual American Institute of CPAs Technology Conference, both keynote speaker and tech guru Mark Minasi, and K2 Enterprise's Randy Johnston, who followed him, offered insight on the most important trends in technology, the latest products, and tips on everything from security to paperless systems. "The future will be like the past," said Minasi, "only more so, unless things change. Just like they say, if everything is going your way, you're in the wrong lane." Amidst the jokes and fun analogies to Star Trek, Minasi gave eleven serious tips to the accountants present at the conference, three of them on cultivating the press. Minasi said that developers can pre-sell their products by using the press and media to their advantage by simply alerting the press about their products. A strong Web presence (including a good Web site), good technical support, building good alliances, respecting cultural differences, and never underestimating the competition were some of the other tips that Minasi had for his fellow CPAs and CITPs. Johnston took a more serious tone when he took the stage, with his tips on paperless systems, business analytic software and security issues. The Kansas-native technology consultant also announced the MS Server 2003 ship date as December 7, and touched on radio frequency identification technology, a technology similar to barcodes, only the line of information does not need to be read and can go so far as to be implanted into health care patients' arms, so their medical history is literally on file within them. "The No. 1 thing going on in the marketplace this year is managed services," Johnston continued. "It drives IT costs down but reliability up, with the ability to do remote monitoring, patch or print management, monitoring DSL or e-mail -- it's done so easily and avoids downtime." A number of key mergers, product developments and innovations in technology affected the accounting industry in the last year, and Johnston tried to touch upon them all for the CPA audience. He also made recommendations on what products were worth buying, what software was not worth their money and what companies were not doing well. For the best accounting software systems and enterprise resource planning software, Johnston recommended QuickBooks, MAS products, SAP's Business One, Accpac and Peachtree, and Open Systems, which he claims can now run on Mac, Windows and DOS simultaneously. "We're seeing a lot of new tools for development, desktop use and server use," said Johnston, "It's a real important strategy shift, when we begin to talk about what Microsoft is doing with Office 12. It will probably be out in Longhorn in 2006 -- I can't tell you how long to will take to get stable, but it will be 2007 before they even ship the product. At least we know the 2003 family to be in a position of stability for next few years." Along with other speakers during the convention, Johnston stressed the need to build better security systems, which could mean outsourcing their IT needs and would include replacing their Windows 98 Office applications with XP or 2003.

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