THE ELECTRONIC ACCOUNTANT: You're the first CIO the AICPA has ever hired. Tell me a little bit about how they approached you and how you perceive the job.

JOHAN MARGONO: They put together a document that basically told me what the roles and responsibilities of the CIO were going to be. I talked with Barry Melancon, our CEO, and listening to his ideas of where he wanted to take the organization - and his vision not just where AICPA is going to be, but where the profession is going to be - piqued my interest.

Q: So, what did he say?

A: Well, basically, he talked about the vision process. There isn't a lot I can talk to you about it right now because it's still being worked on, but I think it's going to be a revolution for the profession. I can, however, say with absolute certainty that we're planning to move to a Web-based environment - technologically, organizationally, and culturally. We're going to move into the E-commerce space, sooner rather than later, and to me, that's pretty exciting.

Q: In what way you're going to move into E-commerce?

A: A lot of what we do now is print-based. To quickly move to the Web-based environment, we have to re-engineer our products, services, technologies, business processes, and structure.

Q: Why is it important to do this now?

A: The number one issue is pressure from the competition. The Internet has practically removed the barrier to entry for anyone to form and sustain a virtual community, which is basically how successful associations will operate in the not-too-distant future.

Q: And who's the competition?

A: That would be other accounting societies in the US, and abroad. They may be a lot smaller than the AICPA, but I think they're also moving more quickly into Web-based organizations or environments. The other not-so-obvious competition will come from Internet start-ups, such as WebMD.com or DrKoop.com in the medical profession.

Q: Tell what you did at Andersen Consulting.

A: I was brought in as an Associate Partner to expand the telecommunications practice in Indonesia. My primary tasks were to quadruple the team within a year or less and to boost the demand for Andersen's services. I achieved the goals primarily through education, relationship building, and successful project completions.

Q: What kind of services did you offer to these companies?

A: Mostly, we sold them Enterprise Resource Planning systems such as SAP and Oracle - an integrated, and complex, system that would basically replace legacy systems that run a company's finance, accounting, sales, manufacturing, logistics, and human resources systems. So, you can look at it as a nearly complete solution for a telecommunications company.

Q: And you would sell them the system and then implement it?

A: We'd do more than that. From a technology point of view, we helped them see what kind of impact it would have on the organization as a whole, and on the corporate strategy. We would also help companies reorganize and be more efficient internally and externally as a direct result of implementing the new system.

Q: Do you intend to transfer that kind of visioning process to the AICPA?

A: Managing and delivering large system implementation is one of my skill sets that is directly applicable to the AICPA's current environment.

Q: Many CPAs are solutions and software resellers, and some have gone into technology consulting, but there's definitely a feeling that a lot of CPAs are balking at technology. Is it part of your role to help raise the whole technological bar for the profession?

A: At the outset, that's not in my action plan, but eventually, once I get the house in order, that's one of the things that I plan to work on. When Andersen Consulting decided to be an independent entity, for example, a number of partners with CPA backgrounds from Arthur Andersen could be described as being part of the "old school." But, quite a few of them were forced to adapt quicker, to embrace the fast changing world of technology, because otherwise they were going to be left behind. And in the end, they either adapted to the change, or they had to move on.

Q: What can you tell me about the internal overhaul of the Information Technology section at the institute?

A: Well, basically I plan to turn it into a more project-based organization. Right now it's run like a traditional IT organization, where everything is based on functions - the telecommunication group, the help desk group, the applications development group, etc.

Q: How is it different when it's project-based?

A: When it's project-based, then 80% or more of the people in the IT group are going to be in a "resource pool" and they'll be deployed to projects within the institute. They will be focused on completing project deliverables and not get distracted by the organizational politics. Their day-to-day loyalty is to the project management, not to the IT management.

Q: Do you have any kind of time-frame for this overhaul?

A: It's been in the works for a while now, but I think it's going to happen within the next two to three weeks. And then within the next year, the organization itself is going to be transformed to align itself to the entire vision process that the AICPA has been working on for the past year.

Q: How big a cultural change will this be?

A: It is a big change. But I think I've sold the concept, because I've gotten almost everybody to buy in, from the staff, as well as from the other senior executives, as well as the CEO. I think it will make us more responsive and more effective in delivering our services to the rest of the organization and most importantly, to our members.

Q: You're also charged with establishing strategic alliances with information technology suppliers and consultants and leading the development of new applications. What can you tell me about that?

A: Given the mandate that we are going to be a Web-based organization-a lot of the applications that we have, I would say 90% of them, are not Web-based. So, that's going to need a total overhaul. We will have to begin establishing alliances with a multitude of Web technology suppliers. This is new to us, as we are still accustomed to dealing with, for the most part, a single technology supplier.

Q: What will you need these strategic alliances for?

A: We will use strategic alliances with vendors, software and hardware providers, that are already established in the Web arena. So, we have to work closely with them, to make sure that they understand what our strategic imperatives are, and that we understand how the partnership can bring about values to our members.

Q: Who are some of these vendors?

A: We have entered an alliance with Oracle to be the database platform for all of our new applications. All the applications that we have right now - Membership, Dues, Subscription, HR, Finance and Accounting, etc. - will be replaced or enhanced.

Q: One of your jobs is to oversee the AICPA's Y2K efforts. Is there still work to be done in that area?

A: We are at the user acceptance testing stage, at the moment, and there'll be some work to be done for the next month and a half. Then we can declare it complete.

 THE ELECTRONIC ACCOUNTANT: You're the first CIO the AICPA has ever hired. Tell me a little bit about how they approached you and how you perceive the job.

JOHAN MARGONO: They put together a document that basically told me what the roles and responsibilities of the CIO were going to be. I talked with Barry Melancon, our CEO, and listening to his ideas of where he wanted to take the organization - and his vision not just where AICPA is going to be, but where the profession is going to be - piqued my interest.

Q: So, what did he say?

A: Well, basically, he talked about the vision process. There isn't a lot I can talk to you about it right now because it's still being worked on, but I think it's going to be a revolution for the profession. I can, however, say with absolute certainty that we're planning to move to a Web-based environment - technologically, organizationally, and culturally. We're going to move into the E-commerce space, sooner rather than later, and to me, that's pretty exciting.

Q: In what way you're going to move into E-commerce?

A: A lot of what we do now is print-based. To quickly move to the Web-based environment, we have to re-engineer our products, services, technologies, business processes, and structure.

Q: Why is it important to do this now?

A: The number one issue is pressure from the competition. The Internet has practically removed the barrier to entry for anyone to form and sustain a virtual community, which is basically how successful associations will operate in the not-too-distant future.

Q: And who's the competition?

A: That would be other accounting societies in the US, and abroad. They may be a lot smaller than the AICPA, but I think they're also moving more quickly into Web-based organizations or environments. The other not-so-obvious competition will come from Internet start-ups, such as WebMD.com or DrKoop.com in the medical profession.

Q: Tell what you did at Andersen Consulting.

A: I was brought in as an Associate Partner to expand the telecommunications practice in Indonesia. My primary tasks were to quadruple the team within a year or less and to boost the demand for Andersen's services. I achieved the goals primarily through education, relationship building, and successful project completions.

Q: What kind of services did you offer to these companies?

A: Mostly, we sold them Enterprise Resource Planning systems such as SAP and Oracle - an integrated, and complex, system that would basically replace legacy systems that run a company's finance, accounting, sales, manufacturing, logistics, and human resources systems. So, you can look at it as a nearly complete solution for a telecommunications company.

Q: And you would sell them the system and then implement it?

A: We'd do more than that. From a technology point of view, we helped them see what kind of impact it would have on the organization as a whole, and on the corporate strategy. We would also help companies reorganize and be more efficient internally and externally as a direct result of implementing the new system.

Q: Do you intend to transfer that kind of visioning process to the AICPA?

A: Managing and delivering large system implementation is one of my skill sets that is directly applicable to the AICPA's current environment.

Q: Many CPAs are solutions and software resellers, and some have gone into technology consulting, but there's definitely a feeling that a lot of CPAs are balking at technology. Is it part of your role to help raise the whole technological bar for the profession?

A: At the outset, that's not in my action plan, but eventually, once I get the house in order, that's one of the things that I plan to work on. When Andersen Consulting decided to be an independent entity, for example, a number of partners with CPA backgrounds from Arthur Andersen could be described as being part of the "old school." But, quite a few of them were forced to adapt quicker, to embrace the fast changing world of technology, because otherwise they were going to be left behind. And in the end, they either adapted to the change, or they had to move on.

Q: What can you tell me about the internal overhaul of the Information Technology section at the institute?

A: Well, basically I plan to turn it into a more project-based organization. Right now it's run like a traditional IT organization, where everything is based on functions - the telecommunication group, the help desk group, the applications development group, etc.

Q: How is it different when it's project-based?

A: When it's project-based, then 80% or more of the people in the IT group are going to be in a "resource pool" and they'll be deployed to projects within the institute. They will be focused on completing project deliverables and not get distracted by the organizational politics. Their day-to-day loyalty is to the project management, not to the IT management.

Q: Do you have any kind of time-frame for this overhaul?

A: It's been in the works for a while now, but I think it's going to happen within the next two to three weeks. And then within the next year, the organization itself is going to be transformed to align itself to the entire vision process that the AICPA has been working on for the past year.

Q: How big a cultural change will this be?

A: It is a big change. But I think I've sold the concept, because I've gotten almost everybody to buy in, from the staff, as well as from the other senior executives, as well as the CEO. I think it will make us more responsive and more effective in delivering our services to the rest of the organization and most importantly, to our members.

Q: You're also charged with establishing strategic alliances with information technology suppliers and consultants and leading the development of new applications. What can you tell me about that?

A: Given the mandate that we are going to be a Web-based organization-a lot of the applications that we have, I would say 90% of them, are not Web-based. So, that's going to need a total overhaul. We will have to begin establishing alliances with a multitude of Web technology suppliers. This is new to us, as we are still accustomed to dealing with, for the most part, a single technology supplier.

Q: What will you need these strategic alliances for?

A: We will use strategic alliances with vendors, software and hardware providers, that are already established in the Web arena. So, we have to work closely with them, to make sure that they understand what our strategic imperatives are, and that we understand how the partnership can bring about values to our members.

Q: Who are some of these vendors?

A: We have entered an alliance with Oracle to be the database platform for all of our new applications. All the applications that we have right now - Membership, Dues, Subscription, HR, Finance and Accounting, etc. - will be replaced or enhanced.

Q: One of your jobs is to oversee the AICPA's Y2K efforts. Is there still work to be done in that area?

A: We are at the user acceptance testing stage, at the moment, and there'll be some work to be done for the next month and a half. Then we can declare it complete.

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