I recall back in the 9th grade, one of my colleagues entered in the then-named Westinghouse Science Competition had gone on to the next level with his project, which consisted of a dry cell battery (remember those?) to which he had wired a series of lights akin to those used at a drag strip and which fired off sequentially.

In my much younger days I casually followed a number of motor racing sports, so therefore, I thought his project was one of the “bossest” (the expression of the day back then) things I’d seen any of my contemporaries create with their own hands.

Fast forward nearly four decades.

One of the entrants from our local high school in the now-rechristened Intel Science Competition has designed a software program capable of maneuvering an artificial limb.

I found myself recalling those advancements last week at the Accountants Technology Conference and tried extrapolating that progress from a high school to a professional level.

As I’ve regaled you many times in this space, my technology expertise is, shall we say, somewhat limited.
I try something twice, and if that doesn’t work then I plead with it. Failing that, I begin to hit.

But there may be a scant ray of hope toward reversing that primal approach.

I’m actually beginning to understand a bit about technology trends and products especially in their application to CPA firms. I figure if you have something explained to you enough times, it will eventually sink in.

But I digress.

During the three-day conference, which, in full disclosure, I’ll tell you we host, I heard far brighter minds than mine speak on the rise of such trends and products as collaboration tools, software-as-a-service, and workflow. About the only topic I had more than a passing familiarity with was social networking sites, both personal and for business, and the exponential rise in users.

But having two teenage daughters puts you on a quick learning curve about MySpace and Facebook.
I see where established CPA firms will have to ensure their practices offer the technology tools for the younger accountants as they obviously bring far different skills, attitudes and career goals than the CPAs who logged in 2,800 hours a year to make partner.

While Baby Boomers on the cusp of retirement may cringe at the sight of a newly minted CPA poring over an audit wearing an iPod, it’s become a fact of life in a 21st century practice.

This is not your father’s CPA firm. The landscape has changed and the old model has become much like that dry cell battery at the science fair.

And I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

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