We had a chance to check out the 2014 Accounting Technology Show & Conference (6th annual show) at the Pennsylvania Hotel in NYC last week. I know what you’re thinking, how interesting could a conference be about accounting and technology, and what does it have to do with Excel? If you work in a medium to large-size enterprise, chances are you may see some of the new technologies that appeared at the show implemented at your company. From walking around the exhibits and talking to exhibitors, it was clear the trend in technology products for analysts, tax professionals, and others in the financial field is shifting to the cloud. Here are some of the interesting stories we learned about the companies at the show!
Accounting Technology FTW
On a rainy Wednesday morning, we headed to herald square where a bunch of disappointed tourists were finding shelter under the Pennsylvania Hotel’s awning. Nestled in the middle of the hallway with tourists walking by left and right was the sign for the New York Accounting Technology show. After going up to the 18th floor, we caught the end of Dana Richardson’s (Richardson Media & Technologies) opening keynote about “What’s New In Technology For Your Accounting Practice.” The room was packed with tax professionals and hung onto every single world Mr. Richardson had to say. He even made his predictions about where technology is going. The most startling prediction, in our opinion, was that the U.S. Post Office delivery people will become obsolete in a few years to be replaced by community mail centers that you pay for and go to to pick up your mail.
Back in the day, ING used to have have the best online savings account and that’s how people in the personal finance space came to know the brand. After speaking with Mr. Akhil Kumar from Arch Global Advisors who was representing the booth, we learned that ING has some pretty decent wealth management services. For those of you thinking about rolling over your 401(k), the ING Select Advantage IRA may be a good option as it only requires a $5,000 initial investment. Seems like a pretty good deal and knowing ING is an innovator in the personal finance space, this could be worth some more research if you are looking around for IRAs.
We met with the CEO of HotHeadTech which provides IT outsourcing to businesses among other services. Mr. Joseph Ferdinando’s story about how he started HotHeadTech shows that with hard work, you can do anything you want. He mentioned he started off making money literally cleaning toilets, and now today he owns a whole portfolio of businesses ranging from pest control to construction to his IT outsourcing firm. The name of Mr. Ferdinando’s company, interestingly enough, apparently came from Mr. Ferdinando’s own characteristic of being a hothead.
We spoke with Ms. Fei Dollinger from CPA.com and discovered that the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) is one of the most involved and active associations in the U.S. The team here is responsible for finding the right vendors and solutions that add value for CPA professionals and educating the association on these new solutions. If you are a CPA, chances are you’ve come across AICPA and CPA.com.
Here is another example of where an old association partners with a leading technology firm to develop solutions to help tax professionals. Ms. Nancy Kasten works at the NATP (National Association of Tax Professionals) and they needed a solution to help solve the problem of helping tax professionals with getting their clients’ taxes done. NATP partnered with app development/marketing firm App Giraffe to create TaxPocket, a tax recordkeeping app that has a mileage tracker, expense tracker, and other features to make the tax filing process easier. The app first was created to help just the NATP to assist the NATP’s tax professionals with their own tax filing needs, but now the app is open to all tax professionals, hence the reason why TaxPocket was at NYAT.
We spoke with Ms. Diana Waterman from Sage, one of the bigger companies at NYAT. While a much bigger company compared to some of the other exhibitors, Ms. Waterman made it clear that Sage is committed to serving the small to medium-sized business segment as well and helping these businesses succeed. Very simply put, Sage helps your business manage your finances, people and payroll, and operations through a suite of products. We got to see quick demo of Sage One, one of Sage’s flagship products, and liked how the product was geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners who don’t time to manage these back office operations. Surrounding the exhibit were thought leadership pamphlets and guides on how to run your business, using technology to automate your operations, and low and behold, a guide called 101 Microsoft Excel tips and tricks! Here is the full PDF if you’re interested, definitely a pretty comprehensive guide on using Excel 2007 and even provides some history about spreadsheets!
Working at a corporation requires detailed expense tracking and submitting receipts. Even at Fortune 500 companies, employees are still stuck photo-copying receipts and submitting their receipts through Concur or some other expense tracking platform. Certify aims to simplify the entire expense report process from submitting receipts to handing reimbursements. One thing thing we liked about their solution is the focus on the employee who is constantly traveling and needs to be able to manage his or her expenses on the fly.
Thomson Reuters – CS Professional Suite
Everyone has heard of Thomson Reuters, but did you know they offer various accounting software as well? CS Professional Suite is a line of software applications that helps your business with all accounting operations. We spoke with Ms. Christina Wiseman, a product manager on CS Professional Suite, and found that she has been with the company for 15 years. We really appreciated her stories about the fun events they would have in their Dexter, MI office like a prom event that helped bring the employees together. It sounds like it’s a great place to work and it’s clear everyone at the Dexter, MI office is one big family. It’s also good to see companies out of Michigan succeeding and Ms. Wiseman is a testament to the awesome people working in the accounting technology field.
TGI Office Automation
Here is a company straight out of Brooklyn, NY. We spoke with Mr. Vincent Valenti from TGI and learned how TGI helps businesses with streamlining anything dealing with documents, scanning, and printing. Want to scan something and save to PDF? Looking to print from a certain device? TGI has developed software to solve these common problems. Beyond the services. Mr. Valenti described the green efforts by TGI such as recycling the thousands of ink cartridges and actually turning the material into building materials for homes. The company also had very humble beginnings but now is one of the most renowned companies in terms of helping businesses streamline operations.
We are big fans of Accounting Today since they provide really interesting content around accounting but also Excel as well. Their articles are helpful for any business professional looking to understand how to utilize technology to improve their business. Articles like “Should I Ditch the PC for an iPad” provide professional advice on how to adopt new trends in the marketplace around business. We are looking forward to working with Accounting Today on future content collaborations!
Last but not least, Microsoft Store was in the house showcasing some of their new laptops and tablets running Windows 8. Mr. Devon Cooper from the White Plains Microsoft Store showed us some of the new features in Windows 8 and we were definitely impressed. Without Microsoft, KeyCuts would not even be here today so we definitely had to stop by the booth and pay our respects. We didn’t know this, but Microsoft Stores, similar to Apple stores, offer tons of training to customers who have bought Microsoft products in the store. Mr. Cooper explained how he is currently training a woman one hour every week for the next year since she wants to learn how to use Microsoft’s products beyond the basics. While Apple stores tend to get the attention of most passerbys at malls and outlets, don’t overlook Microsoft Stores in terms of playing great product advisors and testing new laptops and tablets.
Accounting, Technology, & People
We went to the conference knowing we would learn some interesting technologies for accounting and financial analysts, and we definitely found some cool stuff as mentioned above. More importantly, the people we met along the way didn’t strike us as the stereotypical straight-edge and pedantic types. Everyone had an interesting story to tell about themselves and their experience at the company they work for. It’s great to see these niche communities of professional get together and geek out about the next big thing coming out for accounting professionals. We were so privileged to be an attendee this year! We leave you with some final words of wisdom from Sage’s 101 Excel Tips and Tricks book:
Using Excel shortcuts can increase your overall efficiency by saving you time, hence saving you money.