Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at mobile apps that can make the CPA’s job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

Many major CPA-related professional conferences are held in the fall. Kids are back in school, we've forgotten (sort of) the pain that was last busy season, and we're back in the rhythm of practice. For many of us, that rhythm will include one or more of those fall conferences. The experience can be extremely valuable. But taking full advantage of your conference attendance requires preparation. As Cervantes said, "To be prepared is half the victory." These apps can help you maximize the value of your next conference.

CHARLIE AIMS TO HELP YOU CONNECT WITH PEOPLE AT CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS

It's great to know who's attending your conference, and most conferences provide some sort of attendee list. Nice, but wouldn't it be even more valuable to know who's attending? Charlie will search the web (Charlie's publishers claim "100,000s of sources") for information about the people with whom you'll be meeting, alerting you of your shared connections and recent news about their company and their competition. Charlie will also point out your shared interests. Maybe the musical Fun Home will be touring in your new friend's city, or you both love playing Parcheesi. These reports are useful, but not a substitute for good, old-fashioned homework. Charlie just might make the homework easier. And, because it's automated, it's always done. Currently, it's based only on Google Calendar, which excludes all of us Outlook users. I'm not sure I like the whole calendar integration idea anyway. It seems the app developers have taken the kernel of a good idea and overcomplicated it. But it just might work for you.


WHEN IT COMES TO NOTE-TAKING, IT'S HARD TO BEAT NOTABILITY

So, you're at the conference and have successfully learned who's there, who's near, and all about those you intend to meet. That's great, but there's one more important function. You actually have to attend the conference sessions and, if you intend to really capitalize on your time and money investment, capture as much information as possible to take home and share with your colleagues. Enter Notability, simply the best note-taking tool I've ever encountered. Notability combines files (Office, JPG, PDF, etc.) with your typed or written notes and audio recordings. Its magic is coordinating these elements. At the AICPA Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in June, I watched someone use Notability to download a speaker's PowerPoint presentation and then use it as a base for notations and (occasional) short audio recordings. At the end of the presentation, the Notability user demonstrated to me how the complete file (already safely ensconced in the cloud) would appear to his staff back home. As he flipped through the slides, I saw the PowerPoint deck, his notes, and the audio recordings all synchronized. The entire system also elegantly synchronizes the files across your devices, even integrating them with Dropbox and Google Drive.

Editor's note: Many conferences develop apps that provide registered attendees with up-to-date schedules, speakers, and other content. Attendees of AICPA conferences can use the AICPA Conferences iOS app, available on iTunes at itunes.apple.com.

Greg LaFollette (greg.lafollette@hq.cpa.com) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.

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