Erik Asgeirsson

President & CEO, CPA.com

Executive Roundtable Debrief: What are the Key Trends for 2018?

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.

Samantha Mansfield

Director of Professional Development & Community, CPA.com

Growing through Discomfort

I love Audible! This year I have been able to consume so many more books while doing yard work and running (which I don’t love). Currently I am reading, “On Fire: 7 Choices to ignite a radically inspired life” by John O’Leary, bestselling author and keynote speaker for Digital CPA 2017. As I was listening to him narrate his book, I was struck by how similar one of his lessons was to that of John Engels, leadership coach, who combines family systems knowledge with the science of evolutionary leadership.

At Digital CPA Conference 2016, John Engels challenged us all by asking, “Why do you want to keep others from discomfort?” His point being, we learn from challenges and failures, but we try to shield colleagues, friends and family from it. While running, I listened to John O’Leary retell how his mother refused to help him eat his dinner upon returning from a four month stay in the hospital due to burning 100% of his body at age nine. He had lost his fingers, he was still heavily bandaged and yet when his sister tried to help feed him she was ordered to put down the fork. At nine years old, John’s mother was challenging him to commit to a mindset to solve this problem and all the others he was about to face.

Think of the discomfort in that situation. Any parent hates to see their child in pain, frustrated and suffering. Here the child is hungry, frustrated and probably scared; he couldn’t even feed himself. Yet, mother and son prevailed. O’Leary’s mom knew he was going to be confronted with many more obstacles in his life and he needed to find ways to succeed from the start. John did figure out how to feed himself that night and has grown to have a full and successful life.

This poignant example, is a reminder of the bravery it takes to lead others, and own your own leadership. We each must find our role in any situation.

  • What is my role in the cause of the situation?
  • What is my role in the resolution?
  • What is my role in the long term success?

It comes back to accountability. We can’t look to our manager, mentor, or parent to fix the issues. They play a part in guidance and instruction, but we are responsible for developing our own problem solving and leadership skills. Look back in your career and find a pivotal point; what contributed to your success or failure? What did you learn from it?

Samantha Mansfield

Director of Professional Development & Community, CPA.com

Augmenting Our Skills with Artificial Intelligence

This week the news had a story about robots and humans collaborating. It focused on how robots had become an extension of what we do, allowing them to do what they do best and freeing us up to do what we do best. Another way to think about it: they do more and we think more. When looking at artificial intelligence (AI) this way, the possibilities are endless.

Gartner, the research and advisory company, predicts a third of all jobs will be automated away by robots, smart machines and software by 2025. Accenture, Deloitte predicts 40% of transactional accounting work will be automated or eliminated by 2020. This means in the next 3-8 years we have the opportunity to free up time and start innovating in our processes and business models.

Many times, technology is invented for one purpose and finds relevance and adoption in a completely different industry. To get the creative juices flowing, let’s look at a few examples of how AI and machine learning are being used outside accounting today.

Artistic application

  • 20th Century Fox used IBM Watson to make a movie trailer
  • Stitch Fix, an online personal stylist site, used AI to design clothing
  • Sony CSL Research Laboratory is using AI to compose original music
  • Google has an AI tool to generate art

All these tools are performing creative functions, typically thought to be something only humans can do, but the finished products all include a human touch and final review.

Usage in the accounting profession

What we should take away from this is AI is more about augmenting our workflow, not just automating it. Think of how it frees time and provides more insights through larger amounts of data. The possibilities are still being imagined.

For many of us, AI moved from sci-fi to daily life when IBM Watson became a contestant on Jeopardy in 2011. In 2017, it really came into the mainstream during a Super Bowl commercial from H&R Block pointing out the inclusion of IBM Watson in tax preparation. During various spring and summer tax and accounting conferences, we are asking audiences which technology they see as having a big impact in the future and CPAs are ranking AI in the top of the polls. This is not a time to be afraid of losing jobs, but a time to think of ways to do your job differently; let these robotic tools augment your systems and processes, so you can raise the value of your time and services.

If you are trying to learn more about the possibilities note:

AICPA and CPA.com are sponsoring an initiative called Startup Accelerator to help support up to five early-stage companies over the next year get these new and innovative ideas off the ground.

The 2017 Digital CPA Conference is featuring a member of the IBM Watson team to discuss AI.

There are many articles on possible uses, what will be available next?

What are your thoughts on AI in accounting?

John Engels

Founder and President, Leadership Coaching

Listening: Four Strategies for “Tuning In”

I know a few people who are natural listeners.

These individuals seem to possess an inner stillness and natural curiosity that enables them to intuitively grasp another’s content, meaning and feelings. They listen not only with their ears, but with their eyes, heads and hearts.

When in the presence of an exquisite listener, a speaker is likely to feel tremendous freedom, greater clarity and emotional relief. In a relatively short period of time, tightness, confusion and isolation can be moderated, simply by being listened to.

Despite these benefits, listening is becoming not only rare, but devalued. Most leaders I know function as if they believe their words are more important than what others have to say.

Increasingly, we leave no time to listen. In a fast-paced and often frantic society, who’s interested in stopping the busyness long enough to really tune in to someone else?

I want to confess that I do not belong to the Natural Listeners Club. I have to work at it. Every day. And even when I concentrate, I catch myself making the usual listening mistakes:

  • Wandering away from the speaker by getting lost in my own thoughts.
  • Rehearsing to myself what I am about to say, while the other is talking.
  • Interrupting so I won’t forget my thought, and because I think it’s brilliant.
  • Listening for a point of disagreement that I can pounce on.
  • Cutting someone off because I’m in a hurry, sometimes finishing their sentences due to impatience.

To counter these automatic, selfish tendencies, I decided a while back to re-invent my listening practice. Here are four ideas and strategies that have become useful to me:

1. Listen to My Self

If I cannot pay attention to myself, how in the world will I ever be able to listen to another? As fast as I move from meeting to meeting, I’ve discovered that I move even faster inside my brain. Is there a way for me to calm down?How can I drop the preoccupations and be present, right here, right now? What’s going on with me at this moment?

I have spoken with numerous colleagues and friends who meditate, reflect, pray, journal, use neurofeedback or walk outside. The common denominator in these practices is “quieting the mind.” The rule of “one size fits one” operates here: each must discover for themselves how to “quiet the mind.” The desired outcome is improving my ability to stay calm and focused.

No matter what method I use to slow down and prepare to receive another, it sets me up to be a better listener.

2. Develop an Intention

What’s a bigger challenge: knowing HOW to listen, or WANTING to listen?

I try to begin my interactions with a simple, internal intention to listen. Developing that intention changes my mindset. It’s simply the case that I listen better when I INTEND to listen.

Here are some specific intentions I whisper to myself as I prepare for a discussion:

  • “I want to learn as much as I can about this person.”
  • “I want to observe and hear what is going on with her.”
  • “I want to take in what he’s communicating to me.”
  • “I want to get as much detail as I can and not jump to conclusions.”

3. Pause Before Responding

After the speaker finishes a thought, an intentional, few-seconds delay “holds” what has just been said, as if in a sacred vessel. By slowing the pace of the exchange, pausing:

  • Regulates reactivity impulses while expanding the emotional space for connecting
  • Enables deeper understanding of the message
  • Supplies the space for formulating a thoughtful response

4. Communicate, “I’m hearing you”

It’s important for me to let the other know that I am paying attention to them and hearing their message (which might be a thought, a feeling, a complaint or a question).

The “I’m hearing you” message can be sent verbally, vocally or visually, for example:

  • Making eye contact
  • Taking notes
  • Deleting distractions
  • Reflecting back to the speaker what you are hearing
  • Verbally articulating, “I hear you,” “I’m following you,” etc.
  • Inserting vocalizations that express attentiveness, e.g.. “hmmm…

Listening attentively establishes an important foundation for coaching. I’ve found that when I listen well, whatever I say after that seems to be considered more carefully by the person I listened to.

In that way, robust listening helps credibility as well as understanding.

Can any coaching strategy be more important than that?

John Engels

Founder and President, Leadership Coaching

The Comfort of Certainty

Like most humans, I have a strong bias towards certainty.

When my wife became pregnant for the first time, I rushed to a bookstore to purchase three books on how to get ready for a baby. Reading the books calmed me down. I now had confidence that I now knew how to behave in the delivery room, change a diaper, speak in a soothing voice to both baby and mom.

Of course, it turned out that I didn't know much about any of these. In the delivery room, I offered ice chips – a "sure bet," the book said – at exactly the wrong moment, and the chips went flying. My first diaper change was what you might call a smear job. It would have been more sanitary to not change the diaper at all. As for my soothing voice, I found that I could only produce that unnatural state when I thought to produce it. Almost never.

The books offered some good suggestions, but the confidence produced by my reading – "Now, I know what I'm doing" – proved to be an illusion.

Emotional Comfort Food

Certainty – "emotional comfort food" – is always available to reassure us that we are right, and that we know what we're doing.

A "certainty" mindset baits us to believe that an anticipated graduate degree will lead to exciting career opportunities, that a long-term marriage will happily last for a lifetime, that a major financial deal will anchor a year of growth and that a founder's euphoria about his adult child joining the family business will be vindicated by that child becoming a strong leader. "It's going to happen the way I've planned it," we think to ourselves.

But as the diaper and the delivery room examples proved, certainty is not a reliable assumption. While "thinking I know" initially buoys confidence, it often disappoints.

The Land of Getting Real

Assuming we are right, and "feeling sure" are automatic, entrenched tendencies not easily counter-acted. We hold on to our certainties like babes with blankies.

Combating such a powerful bias requires entering "the Land of Getting Real," pushing ourselves to think about information we don't want to think about, consider possibilities we would rather conceal, and pay attention to data that disturbs our comfort.

It's one thing to notice the over-zealous religious beliefs, faulty relationship premises and bad business decisions of others. It's another matter to observe certainty suppositions in ourselves.

The Land of Getting Real offers the possibility of frightening and refreshing honesty with ourselves, about our own phony certainty. Taking the journey into this land proves how something uncomfortable and upsetting can make us stronger.

Consider these examples:

  • The leader of a large religious congregation decided to "come down from the pulpit" and share with his congregation his doubts about God. While at first he feared such exposure, his decision proved a breakthrough in reversing the remoteness many experienced in approaching him. One senior church member said, "I guess if everyone were certain about God, we wouldn't need faith."
  • The co-head of a family business stopped pretending that he knew what was best for the business just because his dad anointed him as successor. He pulled together his siblings and cousins, soliciting their ideas and hopes for the future of the business. This effort gave him new and useful data; more importantly, it reduced the pressure he felt to produce answers he didn't have, and created valuable give-and-take dialogue with other family members working in the business.
  • The head of a medical practice recently told me: "People treat us (physicians) as if we know more than we know. In the past few years, I have found myself saying 'I don't know the answer to your question,' or 'I don't have a simple response – it depends on many factors.' The vast majority of my patients respect that candor as long as it is genuine and not avoidant."

 
These examples share a common trait: each one of the subjects confronted the limits of his/her awareness and knowledge. Remoteness, cockiness and claims of expertise decreased. Relationship connection increased.

Yet, not everyone wants to question their certainty. When he heard my suspicions about being sure, Roy, a long-time client, pushed back:

Roy: So what am I supposed to do, pretend I don't know anything?

John: Why pretend? I'm saying look closely at your convictions and try to examine your assumptions for any fakery.

Roy: Such as what?

John: Do you ever catch yourself sounding sure of a view or decision, when, upon closer examination, you are not actually certain at all? Or closing off ideas from others because your idea is supposedly sure-fire?

Roy: It sounds like a lot of work to think about this all the time.

John: Is that a problem?

Roy: I'm not sure I have the energy to examine everything I feel reasonably certain about.

John: "Everything" might be asking too much. What about looking at how certain you come across in one or two important relationships?

Roy: I think that could have some merit.

"Could have some merit" might be an under-statement.

Come to think of it, I am certain about one thing: Just because we happen to be parents, presidents, partners or politicians doesn't mean we know what we're talking about.

Matt West

Account Executive, CPA.com

The Power of Video

Opening my inbox, I'm constantly bombarded with an overused and ineffective methodology of communication, that at one point, was innovative. Step into the time machine: I remember being in my college computer lab (in the basement of the honors dorm, on the old DOS machines) sending my first email. My how things have changed. I even remember the first time I sent an email from my phone. I was on a Boeing 737 at the gate awaiting to be pushed back.

Back to present: We are living in the wonderful golden age of technology where it pays to be on the forefront, while staying weary of the bleeding edge. To that end, we are still people wanting to communicate with others. Technology improves the mechanics of communication, however; sometimes what is missing is the human element. We can’t ignore, until West World becomes a reality, we are still communicating with other people.

In this golden digital age, we have Facebook, texting, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and many more emerging social media platforms. We have more opportunities to communicate than ever before…is anyone truly listening?

Let's look at some facts, people trust what they can see. Seeing is believing. When we read emails automatically generated from a server, we can see and assume, the message is lacking authenticity as it’s probably not addressing any of our needs. The message is usually bland, ubiquitous, and aiming at a small open rate of 2-3%. Normally, we will tune these messages out, much like tuning out commercials as we did 10 years ago (before satellite radio). [I get a chuckle when I get an email from my purported long lost relative who left me millions, but all I need to do is give my credit card to unlock the funds]

If only there was a way to splice technology into the human needs of communication. This technology would include visual, nonverbal, verbal ques, tonality, eye contact and many other features people rely upon when having face-to-face interactions.

Obviously, this technology has been around for quite some time and in many electronic venues, but not until recently did it impact the world of email. When was the last time you looked at tools available for more effective communication strategies via email?

Video emailing is one of those "I wish I thought of that" ideas, much like Bitcoin, Uber and all the wonderful emerging technologies. Video email instantly and effectively records a video message and inserts a video link into thumbnail within the body of your email. The video is then stored on a remote server which is secure and the content is controllable by the end user.

But wait, it doesn't just end there. A good video email system has wonderful metric tracking. You can see how many times your video has been watched and how engaged the end user was in the message. What's more, you can see if the recipient watched the entire message or at what point did they drop off.

The video email system I use, is Covideo. I started my use of video email in early 2013. At that time, it was bleeding edge technology, with slim adoption. What astounded me, was my video email open/watch rate hovered around 70%. My custom and personalized Video email message was received 70% of the time I sent it, versus 2-3% when using regular email. Four years and 3,000 video emails later, my open rate has increased to 90%. The result points to a mass adoption of video emails.

Opportunities for using video email? In my opinion, the prospects are endless. I was sitting in a CPE session last month, when a partner of a large firm said "if only I could attach a video message when I send out my engagement letter". Sir, that technology does exist.

Personally, I use Video email in three main categories: initial introductions, alternative to voicemail & sharing praise or recognition.

All the time, I get the response of “wow, what a cool technology!!” It gives such a strong message that I'm propelled to the forefront, I've mastered technology and most importantly I'm human being.

My advice is to take some time and review all the emerging digital communication tools out there and then use them.

Samantha Mansfield

Director of Professional Development & Community, CPA.com

Mentor, Mentee Relationship - How does it work?

The first time I was asked to be a mentor, a wave of honor and panic washed over me. Someone wanted my input on their career path and success; I was humbled they would ask me. Then, the anxiety of, what does a good mentor do, set in.

Over the course of my career, there were a number of people I would say served as mentors to me, and all had very different styles and approaches; some more effective than others. As the mentee, I owned what I got out of it, and sadly I did not leverage those opportunities to the max because I wasn’t sure what was too much to ask of a mentor.

Recently, I was at the Digital CPA Conference and the speakers shared excellent information that helps the mentor and mentee have better expectations and have a fruitful relationship:

You are not there to answer questions; you are there to ask them.

  • Now who is that statement geared to? If you said mentee, that is true, but I’m also speaking to the mentor. A mentee should come with questions, but a quality mentor should ask the mentee challenging questions back. No one knows you better than you. No one knows the full details of a situation better than you! So no one better than you, mentee, to develop the solution. This does not take the mentor off the hook! You have to be engaged; ask the questions you know the mentee has to address. What would you have wanted someone to make you look at to make a better decision? Your inclination will be to share, “This is what I would do…” Though that is comforting to hear, is it what your mentee should do?

 
It will get uncomfortable

  • John Engels said, “Why do you want to keep others from discomfort? It is what helps us grow and develop, and helped us get where we are.” How true is that!? We have to learn to think through and deal with challenging situations. The mentor should coach the mentee on the questions to ask themselves, therefore, training how to analyze and think through similar situations in the future. Mentee, your mentor is NOT there to give instant gratification of an immediate answer. We are in a world of on demand, but some things just take time. Simon Sinek (spoke at 2013 DCPA) recently recorded a video discussing millennials in the workplace and called out there is no app for building skills, relationships and trust (highly recommend watching this video). Be patient, mentor and mentee, depending on the situation, it may take you both a little while to find the answer.

 
Diversify

  • Mentors can be of all ages, social standings, and professions. Don’t create a stereotype in your mind, but look for a diverse mix of mentors. This has been something I was quite blessed to have and look back with appreciation.

 
As we venture into 2017, set a goal to establish mentoring relationships, be it formal and informal ones. If you need help finding a mentor or mentee, AICPA is piloting a program; check out the process – all are welcome. A good mentor is a coach, not an advisor. Be the best coach and be an attentive student.

What was the best attribute of one of your mentors?

Erik Asgeirsson

President & CEO, CPA.com

A Peek at the Road Ahead: the AICPA/CPA.com Executive Roundtable

Earlier this month, we held our annual AICPA/CPA.com Executive Roundtable, a gathering of accounting technology executives, thought leaders and CPA firm partners. More than three dozen vendors packed our boardroom to talk about their software and solutions, and how these innovations can serve accountants and their clients.

It was a very impressive group, one that provided a good indicator of the change coming to the profession. As AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon said during his presentation, you probably won’t recognize what accounting firms will be doing within a decade.

Some themes emerged during the two-day event. Here’s a few of my takeaways:

  • The cloud is transforming the practice of accounting, but we still need to push more firms to adopt. One positive, according to an observer, is that firms are clearly realizing that the cloud is more secure than their local environments. With that said, we still need to remove other roadblocks. Which leads me to the next point...
  • There is still a lot of work to be done in technology integration and product differentiation. CPAs and their clients clearly want help making informed buying decisions around technology and integrated ecosystems. Who is responsible for providing this help? Vendors, the trade media, a peer community? The answer is likely “all of the above,” but I also believe CPA.com will continue to play a critical role toward this end within the profession.
  • Blockchain is on the radar and there was lots of spirited discussion on how it will impact business and firms in the future with capabilities such as smart contracts, immutable records, and shared ledgers. Most roundtable participants expect Blockchain to bring great change, but few attendees are actively investing in Blockchain initiatives yet.
  • Virtual CFO & client accounting services have undergone a significant transformation over the past seven years, but automation and the cloud are bringing increasing changes to tax and audit practices, too. What’s clear is advisory revenue is ascendant, while many compliance-related fees are likely to come under pressure going forward.
  • Finally, relationships and people are the key to driving change and innovation. There is no doubt that technology is the key enabler. But it’s people who have to make sure that business transformation succeeds. That’s why events such as the roundtable are so important in forging those bonds.

What are your thoughts? I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation at AICPA ENGAGE, our Digital CPA Conference and other events this year.

Matt Lentzner

Software Engineer- ing & IT, RoseRyan

Going from good to great: How to be an amazing consultant

Consultants who are great at what they do have the skills required and the experience to match what their clients need, and they have a whole bunch of other must-have abilities that don’t quite fit on the résumé. The following traits are just some the attributes that turn a “good” consultant into a great, in-demand consultant:

  1. They get it done. Ultimately clients hire consultants for results—to do the things they can’t do with their current resources. The more ways a consultant can help out, the more valuable a consultant is. The best consultants are always looking for solutions and efficiencies, and they do what’s necessary to finish a project or fix a problem. In some cases this may involve making copies at 7 p.m. to get a report together. There’s no better-than-you attitude here when job-number one is to make the client happy. They do what’s required and follow through to make sure it happens.
  2. They add value. Consultants who shine consistently go beyond what’s asked of them. They listen carefully to the client and find ways to make the client’s life easier. A client expects a consultant to be an expert and bring in fresh ideas—but the client may not always know the exact right questions to ask. The best consultants have a sense for what each client needs.
  3. They are leaders. You can be a leader without being the one in charge, and great consultants fit the bill. One way to look at leadership is people who take action instead of waiting to be told what to do. They’re effective observers who have the power of persuasion to make smart recommendations when they make sense.
    The consultants who understands what the client wants and then makes it happen are the ones who get asked for by name the next time around (we love when that happens!). If a meeting needs to be called, they call it. If tasks need to be divvied out, they do it. No micromanaging needed. Not only do they step back and see the bigger picture, they figure out what must get done and then gather the resources to do it.
  4. They stay out of politics. In finance and accounting, in particular, consultants are expected to be discreet. They may hear a lot of chatter as they work alongside employees who could be struggling to get past politically sensitive issues. Things may have become messy and the consultants are expected to bring in some calm. The best consultants don’t get sucked in to power struggles and office gossip. They do their job and maintain a professional demeanor.
  5. They are chameleons. Consultants who get repeat clients are able to fit into any environment, whether it’s a loosely structured startup or a tightly wound corporate culture. They shed their personal agendas at the door and take in the personalities and makeup of the company before making any recommendations. They become a part of the team and zero in on what makes sense for the client, at that moment.
  6. They are life-long learners. Clients are looking for people who are on top of the latest requirements and leanings in the field. They want to bring in early adopters who can show them what to do, and they want to know what other companies like them are up to. Consultants can bring them that expertise only if they set aside time to stay on top of trends and innovations. It makes them better at their job—and it makes them more marketable.
  7. They are confident but not cocky. Great consultants have an easy confidence that lets the client know “I got this,” but it never strays into arrogance. Clients want to believe the consultants they’ve brought in to fix a problem know what to do. But clients don’t need a big ego to get in the way.

Consultants who have these seven habits are a special group (we call ours the dream team). They’re experts in their field who are willing to do anything they can for the client. They have above-and-beyond attitudes. And they are all about follow-through, professionalism and thoughtful, quality work.

Matt Lentzner heads IT at RoseRyan, an award-winning consulting firm of finance and accounting aces in Silicon Valley who expertly guide companies forward in any stage of their business lifecycle. He joined RoseRyan in 2005 and serves on the firm’s management team. RoseRyan tackles short- and long-term assignments for clients, from the startup needing an interim CFO and scalable infrastructure to the large enterprise managing tricky transactions and complex compliance issues.

Samantha Mansfield

Director of Professional Development & Community, CPA.com

AI is Entering Accounting

More times than I can count lately, I have heard “that is something from a sci-fi movie,” regarding consumer technology. Mark Zuckerberg has programmed his house to automate as soon as he arrives. Does this make anyone else think of the opening credits of the Jetsons when George arrives home? (I just aged myself perhaps.) So what does this all mean for our business life?

A year ago I wrote, “Do I have to think about that?” If we look at what was referenced here, that is what Zuckerberg did; he automated to a level few of us would get to, but look where we are. Did you get an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot for Christmas? If so you are probably still figuring out all you can do with it. We bought one for my 70-year-old dad; he can now say “living room lights on” and voilà! No tripping over a cat in the dark reaching for the light. Families can fill up the grocery shopping list using Alexa instead of yelling at dad to remember to add “x” to the list. It enhances our ability to collaborate and communicate. Accounting Today recently wrote about a company in England that is now going to use “Alexa” technology in accounting apps for accountants and their clients. What is next?

Sixteen years ago, many accounting professionals didn’t think paperless was possible, and now we have artificial intelligence (AI) in our offices. Deloitte is using it to extract information from complex documents, KPMG is using it for audits. Expensify has built in an artificial intelligence assistant called Concierge. Mac computers have it built into the operating system. (As we can see this is not just for the largest firms.) Daniel Burrus teaches us to ask, is the use of AI a hard trend or soft trend. A hard trend is defined as a trend that is a future fact, we know it will continue to develop, like we know band width will continue to improve. I would say AI is a hard trend; more technology is leveraging AI to support us and functioning well within the tools.

The question for you is, where do you see it helping your daily activities? Are you communicating those suggestions to your software providers, or are you in a position to build an app? Are your clients considering this advancement and how it impacts their industry? We are leaving the realm of sci-fi and entering a state of expectation and anticipation! I am excited to see how this all continues to develop. What are you excited to see next?

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