As a reporter, I come across the results of many, many surveys and I have learned over the years that no matter how interesting they are at first glance, they must be put in their proper perspective, and that requires a little analysis. Take for example the results of AICPA’s 19th Annual Top Technology Initiatives survey. The top 10 most important technology initiatives for 2008 were:

My initial reaction to these top 10 was one of surprise until I fully understood the context of the survey. What I loved about the AICPA press release was that it detailed the methodology utilized to conduct the survey. In addition to its Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) Credential holders and IT Section members, the AICPA collaborated with the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), and the Information Technology Alliance (ITA) “because their members share similar perspectives on the top technology initiatives impacting business today.” The survey is based on the responses of 1,169 finance, accounting, and technology participants, ranking 29 technology initiatives that they felt would have the most significant impact on their organizations in the next 12 to 18 months. In reality, the better, though longer, title might be, “The AICPA’s 19th Annual Top Technology Initiatives for Businesses Mostly Answered by Respondents, Many of Whom Specialize in Technology.” The reader would then know exactly the perspective of the respondents, and also what the survey doesn’t cover. The survey doesn’t identify what the top technology initiatives within CPA firms or the top technology initiatives for businesses by size and type. For example, in the last AICPA Top MAP Issues survey, the responses were broken down by sole practitioners and firms with two to five, six to 10, 11 to 20, and 21 or more professionals. After my analysis, I am more comfortable and less surprised by the results of the AICPA’s latest survey. I also know that the results would be quite different if additional surveys were done to determine the top technology initiatives within CPA firms and the top technology initiatives for businesses by size and type. I know readers of Practical Accountant would be very interested in the results of both those surveys. Rhetorical question: Of the 10 technology initiatives listed above, what do you expect will be your firm’s top three technology initiatives for 2008?  

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