Sometimes, it's easy for people who deal with technology on a day-to-day basis to forget that hardware and software are still a puzzle to a large part of the population.

That message was brought home this week by the Ohio Society of CPAs' poll, which asked visitors to the society's Web site their views about which of the Top Ten Technologies listed by the AICPA for 2005 are the most important to them.

Forgot the fancy stuff--collaboration and messaging, authentication, document management--43 percent of those responding voted for learning and training competency as No. 1. That was the No. 10 issue on the AIPCA list. The top issue voted by those participating in the AICPA selection--information security--came in a distant second at 29 percent.

Today's hot technology may only be a distant issue for those who aren't immersed in the computer business. Hot topics aren't the things that affect average computer users who are trying to get the most out of existing technology and get their jobs done.

It was always easy in the 1990s to dwell on the next great thing, and to have the realization that the issue of moving from DOS to Windows was a hot topic long after those on the cutting edge had moved on to sexier subjects.

Maybe the need for learning and training underscores something that Microsoft founder Bill Gates has often been quoted as saying--that technology is still too difficult to use. Microsoft, and probably other companies, will tell you that the most frequently requested software features are things that are already in their products.

Even for the technologically sophisticated, there are those times when we look at the monitor in puzzlement, baffled by something we are trying to do, something we have been told is a lot easier than it turns out to be.

And that's what those respondents in Ohio are probably saying. The most important technology is not the next set of bells and whistles and promise of wireless, universal remote computing with voice activation through countless handheld computing devices.

The hot topic is getting as much as possible from what we already have.

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