One of my favorite events each year is the AICPA/CPA.com Executive Roundtable, a gathering of accounting technology executives, practitioners and thought leaders. I think it’s the best pulse check on the state of innovation in the profession.
This year’s event in January was no different. We had presentations from 41 startups and leading-edge companies, as well as panel sessions on key issues confronting CPA firms. Here are some of my takeaways:
- Artificial intelligence is ascendant. Numerous executives expressed their belief that artificial intelligence will become like cloud technology is now – an expected component of business, not something seen as an extra or add-on service. We’ll use AI to improve customer service, ferret out financial irregularities and even write code for our apps, as one of our speakers, Tomer Dicturel, founder of Crane.Ai, said. Except artificial intelligence’s adoption rate will be a lot faster than that of the cloud.
- Some barriers still need to come down. Hundreds of competing client software systems make it difficult for AI solutions to bridge the gaps, practitioners say. And for both AI and blockchain, more regulatory guidance is needed before firms really take the plunge.
- A rising tide lifts all boats. Our roundtable participants include a fair number of executives from companies that compete in the marketplace. What’s always impressed me is the commitment from attendees to take a big-picture approach and discuss how we can push the profession forward together. This isn’t a zero-sum game.
- Don’t ignore security risk. If you don’t have a plan to manage cybersecurity risk for your firm and your clients, you’re playing with fire. Hackers and criminals are creative, committed and have shown a willingness to collaborate with each other to breach systems and steal personal data, according to Ted Ross of SpyCloud, one of our session speakers. CPAs need to be aware of what they’re facing.
- Predictions for the coming year. Our next roundtable is Jan. 16-17, 2019. By then, I expect we’ll have heard a lot more about the evolution of the audit and technology inroads in tax and financial planning. We’ll also have a firmer sense of the implications of AI and blockchain on the profession.
Watch for more about our Roundtable insights as the year progresses. It’s an exciting time to be a CPA, and CPA.com is committed to providing you with the tools and resources to make the most of it.