And for the year ahead, the prediction is--document management, document management, and more document management.

Sure, there are other topics. But for 2005, if it's not the year of document management, it will be a year of intense and serious tire kicking. Maybe accounting professionals should be spending more time worrying about security. But they probably won't.

Of course, it's not just about going paperless. In fact, among the issues that are spurring the adoption of document management system, reducing paper can be among the least important.

What we really need to talk about is remote access and collaboration, because these trends are driving the sales of document management software and the renewed interest in Internet-based applications.

Most businesses buy technology to solve problems, not for its own sake. And there are clear gains in productivity--and, if nothing more, in convenience--in having staff members being able to access digitized documents from anywhere. And the thing that makes them available from anywhere is usually going to be the Internet.

Once documents are available online, then workers can share them and work together.

Other technologies come into play with remote work and collaboration, including various wireless technologies that provide the ability to do all these things without being tethered to a wire.

What we end up with is anywhere, anytime access, not just to bits of data, but to the documents that let accounting professionals do work. All of these should produce better client service, greater productivity, and, hopefully, flexible lifestyles that balance work and life.

Business and life, of course, are not this idyllic. But at the bare minimum, this kind of access to work will product some of these benefits. And if nothing else, it signals that basic equipment for playing the game has been ramped up a notch.

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