|FEBRUARY 2000 VOLUME 189, NUMBER 2|
Senior News Editor
Associate News Editor
The CPA As E-Consultant
Business technology consulting is now a formal element in the CPAs extensive portfolio of services. With e-business blazing a path to the future, a newly created specialty accreditation will help CPAs claim an important piece of the action.
The new accreditation in information technology, approved in the fall by the AICPAs governing council, announces to clients, prospects and employers that CPAs have what it takes to deliver technology-driven, integrated business solutions. As companies struggle to navigate the unfamiliar waters of technology, the new designation positions the CPA as a trusted resource.
The need for top-notch business technology advice is soaring as e-businesss growth potential becomes enticingly apparent. This holiday season, for example, e-businesses logged an estimated $10 billion in revenue, up 300% from the same period a year earlier.
But these impressive numbers are just a hint of growth to come. During the holiday season, companies were actually holding backquite literally locking down their systems to ride out potential Y2K dangers without incident. They shelved ready-to-go hardware upgrades, new software and other enhancements that promised to catapult e-commerce to new heights of utility and flexibility. Now that the Y2K hurdle is mostly behind us, however, companies are eager to turn the new technology loose in the marketplace and to launch systems with funds formerly earmarked for Y2K preparedness.
Where will they get the support they need to make the new technologies work? According to a recent survey conducted by the nationally recognized polling firm, Audits & Surveys, businesses are having a tough time finding the right type of consultant for their e-business endeavors.
The survey reveals that businesses want professionals who can bridge the experience gap between technology and business. So, theyre looking for technology consultants, competent in business and accounting, who can justify the cost of essential systems, communicate effectively with both boards of directors and small-business owners and build consensus within a clients company.
Although CPAs have precisely that kind of expertise, we may not be the obvious choice. The new accreditation, though, can serve as a calling card, announcing to clients, prospects and employers that CPAs do, in fact, have the professional tools to do the job. Since no other providers in the marketplace have our unique blend of skills and experience, we may be looking at a ready-made opportunity in a skyrocketing new industry.
By focusing on the strategic application of technology, not its inner workings, CPAs with the new accreditation will foster success at small and large businesses alike. Combined with the professions reputation for trustworthiness, this will ensure the CPA remains a familiar and comforting presence in a new and unfamiliar world.
As e-business revolutionizes the world, clients and employers need a partner to guide them. If the profession seizes this opportunity and fulfills its potential, the CPA can be that partner. The choice is ours.
Barry C. Melancon, CPA