Must-be-present-to-win-logoHow many times have you heard this?

I remember a past AICPA CPA/SEA Interchange Conference when our own Bill Sheridan had to leave on an early flight and his name was drawn for a cool prize. But he had to be present to win. His name was put aside and a new winner was drawn. You must be present to win.

Well, your name was just picked last week at the AICPA Tech+ Conference / Practitioners Symposium in Las Vegas.

Are you present to win?

That is how I started my session about CPAs and Client Relationships: Are They Different in the Cloud?

I started with a video clip featuring CPA2Biz CEO Erik Asgeirsson and technology adoption guru Geoffrey Moore, in which Erik asked Geoffrey if he thought we were in the middle of a significant technology shift. His answer was a definitive yes! He was concerned that many CPAs may miss this fundamental shift because, unlike other major tech shifts, this one is being driven by the “consumers and customers.” Geoffrey said that, unlike other shifts which were driven by tech companies, to win in this market you must be present to win, meaning you must be engaged in these technologies with your customers to fully understand their impact. He outlines this shift in an AIIM whitepaper titled, Systems of Engagement.

Here are my five ways to “be present” and win in this next economy:

  1. Social — engaging customers and employees with social media tools
  2. Cloud — using the latest innovative technology to serve customers anytime, anywhere
  3. Mobile — taking advantage of mobile technologies to support theur customers business applications
  4. Collaborative — working side-by-side with vendors, customers and employees
  5. Value-added — it's all about helping customers realize their businesses vision and true potential

How long do you have to make this shift? Three years, according to the latest Deloitte / MIT Sloan Social Business Survey.

Is it real or can I wait it out?

I see it happening at the edges and growing rapidly — the very small businesses and CPA firms, and the very large consumer company level (greater than 100,000 employees) are where it started, but it is growing.

There were plenty of examples at the conference, including my panelists Michael Hsu of Deep Sky Co. and Jennifer Katrulya of BMRG — and many more in the audience. Both CPA firms are innovating how they are serving the small business segment, and they are leveraging technology to go way beyond what we have known as the “local CPA firm.”

Instead of traditional A&A and tax, they are focused on outsourced CFO and accouting services. They are using cloud technology to reach customers in new and innovative ways, breaking the old geographic boundaries with Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, Skype and GoTo Meeting. The majority of these firms are also using value pricing as their practice management philosophy and most have abandoned or never started using timesheets. (Yes, they subscribe to the Ron Baker school of thought.)

Want more examples? There was a meeting of the “movement” there as Jody Padar led a session on I C Opportunities (See Bill's post, Here's what the future looks like for CPAs) and a post-conference session with Ron Baker's Verasage group (Dan Morris, Michelle Golden, Ed Kless, et. al.) on value pricing. 

Where do you start? If you missed the AICPA AICPA Tech+ Conference / Practitioners Symposium (scheduled for June 10-13, 2013), there is our 2012 MACPA Innovation Summit next week, which will feature many of these technology-driven innovations and a new format inspired by the famous TED talks, MACPA and BLI “LIve” talks — bite-sized learning nuggets which will inspire and inform you. We will have sessions with our major sponsors featuring the latest in these technology trends designed to get you in the game quickly. You won't want to miss special sessions with these new cloud solutions from CPA2Biz's CEO Erik Asgeirsson, CCH CEO Mike Sabbatis, and Avalara, in addition to the latest developments in health care, government, XBRL and, of course, tax and accounting.

The only question is, will you be present to win?

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