We’ve spent a lot of time here talking about the future of accounting — about a world where CPAs spend less time crunching numbers and more time interpreting them.

It’s not just a pipe dream. In a world where their core transactional services are becoming increasingly automated and commoditized, making that shift from data management to data interpretation just might be the road to relevance for the profession.

And now, some important new tools are beginning to emerge that help CPAs take their first steps down that road.

The folks at Sage have been particularly busy on this front recently. They’ve launched two new products that are designed to make CPAs more productive, effective, and relevant than ever. We think they’re important enough to examine a little more closely.

Sage Impact
This is a customizable online hub that allows CPAs to integrate all of the tools they need to run their businesses. Most any resource that a CPA uses — from news alerts to social networks to analytical tools and data dashboards — can be added to hub, giving CPAs access to all of the information they need to serve their clients.

The goal, said Jennifer Warawa, was not to build a new suite of tools, but rather to give CPAs a single point of instant access to the tools they already use, and to make it accessible on any computer or mobile device.

“Accountants and bookkeepers don’t need more tools — they need the right tools,” Warawa, Sage’s global vice president of product marketing, told me recently. “They want a platform that adapts to their needs and delivers the right information when and where they need it.”

In that respect, Sage has figured out what everyone else continues to struggle with: Stop trying to replace the tools CPAs know and love. Make it easier for them to use those tools instead.

Sage Life
This one is a game-changer. Sage Life will deliver any information you need to run your business — including accounting and finance analytics — to you and all of your key decision-makers in real time, and it will be delivered as a social, collaborative newsfeed. The product is tightly integrated with the Salesforce CRM solution and is built on the Salesforce1 Platform.

Let’s say you want to know how much product your sales team has sold. You would traditionally be waiting an hour for that type of information — and even longer if you wanted to know whether those sales are profitable.

Sage Life, however, will give you the answers in real time, and on any device you want.

“A lot of accounting products are used by accountants alone. The business owner never looks at the products, so they are reliant on accountants to pull that information together,” said Doug Labahn, global vice president of product marketing for Sage Life. “Sage Life makes that information available to all owners, partners, and managers at the same time. It lets the company move very quickly and collaboratively around what’s going on in the business.”

“This is not an incremental change. It’s a massive transformation,” Warawa said. “This is a huge leap in the way we work. … We’re hesitant to even call it accounting. When you call it accounting, you tend to check out and say, ‘Well, that’s for the controller or the CFO.’ This is a collaborative tool for anyone who’s involved in managing the business. It’s reimagining the business of doing business.”

That’s the kind of thinking that the MACPA and the Business Learning Institute like to align ourselves with. Forward-looking solutions like Sage Impact and Sage Life are the kinds of tools that will help CPAs stay relevant in a changing and complex world.

Find out more at the CPA Summit
Sage is a key sponsor of our annual CPA Summit, scheduled for June 23 at Martin’s West in Baltimore. Besides being the can’t miss CPA event of the year, the Summit gives CPAs an opportunity to get to know innovators like Sage a little better. Get complete details and register here.

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