October 23, 2018

Consumer Tech Accountants Need in 2018 and Beyond

ces accountants tech cropped

Remember The Jetsons maid Rosie? I recall thinking, “Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a robotic personal assistant to keep me from looking as disheveled as I feel!” never imagining a day when that might exist. I mean, many of us were mesmerized by something as simple as a Giga pet. This is all on my mind because the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 wrapped up Las Vegas a little over a week ago. Well, ladies and gentleman, the future is now. Robots galore! Bigger screens and thinner laptops. It’s all very exciting.

So what technological advancements might go on an accountant’s wish list? Here’s mine:

1. Who has time to plug in during busy season?

Accountants — auditors in particular — are a nomadic bunch. And, since we dart from one client to another, we’re left juggling many mobile devices. We are tethered to our work and an outlet (at least when the batteries die).

Device charging is on the hot seat for innovation, and a dead battery is not going to be an excuse much longer.

In the short term, all accountants should invest in a power cell, external-battery pack. It’s like having your own backup generator. Very handy. One Wall Street Journal reporter who went to the show recommended this nifty laptop case:

Yes, one of the most exciting things I saw at CES was a protective laptop sleeve with a built-in battery. The $200 Incase Connected Power Sleeve can fully recharge a MacBook Pro with its big 14,000-mAH battery. It has a USB-C port and cord and a regular USB port so you can charge laptop and phone at the same time.

It will be available in the third quarter of 2018 according to the Incase press release.

Although it’s a couple years from being mainstream, inventors are working on making charging your phone and laptop completely wireless. The first demos were unveiled at the show. Again, the same reporter wrote about her first-hand account:

I got a look at Ossia Inc.’s Cota wireless power technology in Las Vegas last week. In one demo, a giant transmitter installed in a wall lighted up a lightbulb about 6 feet away. That same transmitter also powered special AA batteries, which powered a little LED light. Ossia says its technology can reach up to 30 feet right now, depending on transmitter size and the environment.

One of their competitors, Powercast, is also working on similar tech called the Power Spot. The press release said:

Creating a coverage area like Wi-Fi, a Powercast transmitter automatically charges enabled devices when within range. The transmitter uses the 915-MHz ISM band to send RF energy to a tiny Powercast receiver chip embedded in a device, which converts it to direct current (DC) to directly power or recharge that device’s batteries.

Inventors in this arena (Ossia, Energous, and Powercase) all insist their technology is safe. But, I’m worried we all might start glowing if we supercharge our air too much.

2. If you work too much for a real puppy, why not a digital one?

Owning a dog might be too much of a commitment if you are planning to work in public accounting. Rather than neglect the real thing while you’re busy cross-footing into the wee hours, why not get the next best thing? Sony’s Aibo robot dog is more lifelike than ever. Plus, the price is down below $2,000. The last version of the pup was discontinued in 2006 when the price point deterred people and interest faded. The price hasn’t dropped a ton, but the features are more advanced (e.g., Aido can now find a bone, even if fetch is still a little tough) and it’s AI-enabled so it can recognize people in your family. All the fun of a real dog (sort of), and no danger that your Roomba vacuum will have a run in with dog poop.

3. Is client travel a pain in your neck? Lighten the load with a suitcase that follows you around the airport, hands-free!

Instead of an actual puppy robot, how about a suitcase that follows you around like one? Several robot suitcases debuted at CES 2018, and they’re ready to tail you around the airport like a little shadow. Travelmate launched a crowdfunding campaign to get rolling on the project about a year ago (pun very much intended). But there are still some glitches that need to be worked out according to this demo, such as top speed limitations if you need to dash from one gate to another and situations when the bag loses you and starts wandering around like a lost child. But, I’m sure they’re working on it.

Would you give it a double take the first time you see one in the airport? It does look very odd. I still stare dumbfounded when I see someone cruising around on a Segway. I feel like this is in the same category.

Image: Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

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KPMG Arrives at the Paperless Audit Party

office-space-402a-061907.jpgWe’ve received several reports about Klynveldians attending “eAudit” training this summer which marks the firm’s attempt to get break into the “paperless” audit world. Reports have been mixed with some saying that it’s best technology KPMG has invested in but others claiming that it will only run on Vista which may be problematic when Windows 7 rolls out.
Forgetting the technology mumbo-jumbo, it’s been long rumored that KPMG was the last major firm to make the move to a paperless audit. This could have been due to a number of things:
More, after the jump

• Partners that have been around since WWII that can’t even use email put the kibosh on the whole idea
• M-O-N-E-Y
• Accountants, in general, resist the idea of trying a new restaurant so don’t even think about messing with their audit methods
What’s more surprising is that some Radio Station clients have said that they prefer the old school audit. Not exactly sure what is so appealing about young auditors schleping around boxes of binders that weigh a few metric asstons but whatevs.
Our point, dude, is that KPMG has finally caved on this whole “paperless” idea. Since audits aren’t truly paperless we’re not sure what all the fuss is about but KPMGers got an extra week in Florida in the dead of summer out of it. Discuss the firm breaking into the new century in the comments or let us know how terrible your lives will be because of it.

(UPDATE) Big 4 Technology: Open Thread

Thumbnail image for Apple-II.jpgEditor’s Note: Francine McKenna is a regular contributor to Going Concern
We recently received a tip about KPMG implementing a new risk management system for vetting potential clients and engagements. The new system was put in place around the time of the second round of layoffs and according to our tip, things did not go smoothly.
Simply put, it didn’t work. Since the whole risk management thing is a big deal for any accounting firm, people were working day and night to try and get it fixed. Did we mention the layoffs? Right. They occurred right when this whole SNAFU was occurring.
Our source described the risk management process as a “total nightmare” for basically two weeks. Good news, is that things seem to be back to normal but it sounds like it was pre-tay, pre-tay hairy for a while there.
Most accounting firms, especially the Big 4, are heavily dependent on the efficient functioning of their technology. But, aside from reading this fine publication, you probably spend a good chunk of your time dealing with tech related headaches.
Firms trying to go paperless, firms still using Lotus Notes, and we’ve heard that KPMG is currently upgrading its basic operating system to run on…Windows Vista.
On the positive side, Deloitte is issuing iPhones and that’s basically all we got…
We asked our contributor, Francine McKenna for her thoughts on the Big 4’s investment in technology:

The Big 4 operate under the “shoemaker’s children” doctrine when it comes to their own technology infrastructure. Every once and a while you’ll see a big splashy investment but partners loathe spending their potential payout on common goods, and investments for the future: “If I don’t understand it or perceive a need for it, I don’t want to spend any of my money on it.” Very few of the rank and file partners understand or appreciate the firm’s technology infrastructure needs.

Discuss your firm’s technology (or lack thereof). The good, the bad, the stuff that makes you want to drop kick your laptop out the window.