In the early 1980s, when desktop computing and communications capabilities became affordable, practitioners began to realize that understanding basic hardware and software—PCs, modems and spreadsheets—would give them a competitive edge. Since then, the potential rewards for technological proficiency have mushroomed. Not only has technology become a popular practice niche for accountants who understand it and keep up-to-date, but it also has made life easier for practitioners in all specialties and generally improved their ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
For example, convenient and economic communications systems now enable accountants on the road to work closely with home office colleagues and achieve several goals at once. Frequent business traveler Michael W. Harnish, CPA, chief information officer of Oak Brook, Illinois law firm Dickinson Wright PLC, uses such technology extensively. “Wireless and mobile technologies give me cheap, convenient phone and Web service,” he says, “enabling me to be in two places at once—an essential survival tool for any accountant today.”