Key Technology Issues for 2012


With 2012 just around the corner, the JofA gathered the three technology keynote speakers from the AICPA’s 2011 Practitioners Symposium/TECH+ Conference to talk about tech trends heading into the new year. The nearly 90-minute conversation covered a wide range of technical issues critical to all CPAs.

Participating in the call were:

  • David Cieslak, CPA/CITP, aka Inspector Gadget, a principal with Arxis Technology.
  • Randy Johnston, executive vice president of both Network Management Group Inc. and K2 Enterprises.
  • Rick Richardson, CPA/CITP, founder and CEO of Richardson Media & Technologies.

Moderating the call were:

  • J. Carlton Collins, technology and accounting systems consultant and author of the JofA’s monthly Technology Q&A column.
  • Jeff Drew, senior editor covering technology for the JofA.

The JofA is presenting the online version of the conversation in 10 installments released over a nearly two-month span. Each part focuses on one major topic and features audio clips from the conversation. Part one covers key technology trends to watch in 2012.

The complete schedule is available at the bottom of this article and at


Audio: Click here to listen as David Cieslak, Randy Johnston and Rick Richardson discuss the key technology issues for 2012.

Collins: Today we’re focusing on technology trends as we head into 2012. I’d like to start by asking a basic question of our panelists, and I’d like each one to respond. In your opinion, gentlemen, what will be the most important technology issue for CPAs in 2012? How about Dave Cieslak? Would you care to start us off?


David CieslakCieslak: Happy to, Carlton. Glad to be here, and thank you for everyone joining along. What a great question to lead with, and I would tell you, I really think mobile computing probably has to be one of the most exciting things happening in technology right now that really encompasses a lot of different things, from devices to connectivity, from tablets to cellphones. I mean, it really is just pushing the envelope regarding how all of us are doing computing. And so I think it really is going to kind of turn us all on our ear a bit here in terms of how we go about doing our day job. So I really am excited about a lot of what’s going on in mobile computing.


Collins: Hey, thanks, Dave. How about you, Randy?


Randy JohnstonJohnston: Well, Carlton, I appreciate the question from the technology perspective, but I’m going to say first, spending efforts around training to help us understand what we’ve got to use it better. And second, I think the biggest return might be in procedural improvements this coming year. There’s a number of us who have purchased technologies, deployed them, and frankly aren’t using them very effectively, and over the last three to four years we haven’t spent the right type of (money) on the training and on the procedural improvement.


So I think what will happen is, once you’ve got those things in place, you realize that you can take advantage of some of these new technologies, like David’s suggestion of mobile or some of the cloud technologies that we’ll talk about, or perhaps other remote technologies, virtualization technologies and the like.


Collins: Hey, Randy, do you have a rule of thumb we should go by in budgeting training for our staff?


Johnston: Well, I do have several rules, but I would suggest for CPAs in public practice that it’s probably going to be hours beyond the CPE minimum, and most likely you’re going to wind up with maybe another 10 to 20 hours. The rule of thumb is you should get almost a two- or three-to-one investment (return) for every hour you put in on the training, so I would like to see anywhere from 10 to 20 hours. If you buy that type of education in bulk—in other words, do group or one-on-one training—you’ll probably have about a $600 expenditure to help your staff along that way.


Collins: All right, thanks. Rick?


Rick RichardsonRichardson: Well, listen, thanks for inviting me to speak with two of the real icons in the business. First, I would re-echo what David said, and that is at the top of my list is mobility. I’ll take from Randy and say cloud computing when you combine it with mobility. And finally, I think one of the biggest issues is they’re now throwing around a term called the post-PC era. That is an (era) where the desktop and/or laptop computer, at least for some users, is going to have a metamorphosis in terms of who uses it and for what is it used.


So I would guess that given particularly the next two years, the amount of effort that firms (put) into planning replacement is going to be terribly crucial. And I would just say, go slow, make sure you’ve got pilot programs to try out some of this new mobile technology to see how it might impact what happens with the next generation of desktops and laptops.


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