Hurricane Sandy was an unfortunately frequent topic of conversation during Accounting Today's 3rd annual Growth & Profitability Summit, held Oct. 28-30 in Boca Raton, Fla. Most of the attendees from the Northeast had flown out just ahead of the devastation, but regardless of geographic location, we all followed the news as the situation escalated -- though all in different ways.

While the hotel delivered The New York Times to my room every morning, by the time I received the folded daily, I had seen most of its news and photos on my Tumblr dashboard or Twitter feed the night before. Popular photo-sharing application Instagram exploded during Sandy -- 1.3 million photos were tagged with a Sandy-related hashtag (#sandy).

Since power, cell signals and the Internet were down in my lower Manhattan neighborhood after Sandy hit, I relied on Facebook to send messages to and receive status updates from my roommates back home during those short windows of time when they were able to travel uptown to gain WiFi and power.

Of course, while our thoughts were with our friends, family and neighbors, Accounting Today and GroPro attendees charged ahead with our full agenda -- and found that certain tracks, like technology, included panels that were made even more vital in the wake of disaster. Firms that have yet to embrace the cloud must have given virtual storage a serious second thought. Fear of natural disasters is not enough of an impetus to change the way firms spread news or do business, but it does follow the new direction that information is flowing.

To those without power or Internet access, a hashtag might seem trivial, but it did get the news out about relief efforts and volunteer opportunities. In the coming years, it will be interesting to see how businesses harness this Internet-filtered power of the people.

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