What does it mean to be a Digital CPA and how do you become one?

I think last week’s Digital CPA Conference shed some light on the subject and provided a roadmap of sorts. The highlight for me was the keynote (and whitepaper) from Dr. Geoffrey Moore (pictured with me on right) titled, Accounting Services: Harness the Power of the Cloud.

So what is a Digital CPA?

My definition is, “A Digital CPA is a CPA who can harness the latest technologies to enhance interaction and collaboration with clients and employers that creates new ways to apply their professional knowledge and analysis to help their clients and/or employers navigate the dynamics of the rapidly changing and complex business environment. In the words of the CPA Horizons purpose statement, “CPAs…make sense of changing and complex world.”

Let’s break this definition down,

First, “a CPA who can harness the latest technologies” which means identifying the most significant trends and technologies that might enable enhanced and new services. 

The three mega-trends identified by Geoffrey Moore are a great starting point:

  • Mega-Trend #1: Digitalization – making a digital overlay of the world and your business
  • Mega-Trend #2: Virtualization – moving from physically present to digitally present – This includes “the enhance interaction with clients and employers” part of the definition
  • Mega-Trend #3: Transformation – finding new ways to enhance value and add services as you connect and collaborate with your clients/employer

Then, harness the new “Big Four” tech trends for CPAs, according to the latest research from CCH’s 2012 Technology Trends Survey:

  1. Cloud
  2. Mobile
  3. Big Data (including XBRL)
  4. Social 
The last part of my definition coincides with Moore’s third mega-trend, Transformation which requires three major steps:
  1. Create a vision of the desired future state and compare it to the current state;
  2. Determine the right technology investments you need to support your business strategy and/or new client services;
  3. Develop and organize your change management efforts around the new services and technologies.
The third step is the most important and the one for which Dr. Moore provided the greatest insights. He walked us through the technology adoption curve and helped identify the Visionaries, Pragmatists, and Conservatives that we must address both with clients and within our organizations. This is all based on his seminal work, Crossing the Chasm. They even released apps to help you survey your partners (and potential clients) as well as your practice. The key question here for all of you “visionaries” is whether someone in your company (most likely a conservative) can completely block you from going “digital”. I see this in many firms I have worked with.

While the whitepaper is focused on Client Accounting Services, the concepts apply to all of accounting services (CFOs take note!), and for that matter, businesses and associations like MACPA.

With almost 1,500 tweets over three days, there was a whole lot of Social Learning at #DigitalCPA via Twitter:

As promised, here is my presentation that kicked off our panel presentation which will be updated tonight with the results of our poll questions using conferences.io (who graciously set us up to test their new system).

 With almost 1,500 tweets over three days, there was a whole lot of Social Learning at #DigitalCPA via Twitter:

And while the opportunities are endless for you Digital CPAs out there, Moore’s comments are still ringing in my ears, “But you have to keep up”.
Look for continued coverage of the Digital CPA here at CPA Success, in our townhalls and our Innovation Summit on May 17, 2013 (See 2012 Summit info here).
It was great being with many of our MACPA members who attended the conference and kudos to Erik Asgeirsson and his CPA2Biz team for putting on a relevant and extremely useful DigitalCPA Conference.

More thought provoking resources for the Digital CPA:

Need help getting your partners all on the same page? Or helping them stretch their minds to see the big picture? Call on us to help with your strategic planning needs or to hold a future forum to help them see the bigger trends and issues. 

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