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Six Tech Predictions for an Uncertain Future

ICPAS SUMMIT20 keynote speaker Donny Shimamoto shares his tech outlook for 2020 and beyond. By Hilary Collins | Summer 2020

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Technology changes so rapidly that it often feels impossible to keep up, but Donny Shimamoto, CPA, CITP, CGMA, says the best way to keep up is to look for patterns from the past. Shimamoto is the founder and managing director of IntrapriseTechKnowlogies LLC, where he helps small and midsize organizations use technology to grow, achieve strategic goals, and manage risks. Here are his top six predictions for how technology will evolve in the next year, how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect technological decision-making, and what innovations will be most impactful for CPAs moving forward.

1. The rise of remote work

Forced into utilizing a remote workforce during the pandemic, many workplaces will have a hard time coming up with reasons for why employees can’t work from home once things get back to normal. “I think that one of the benefits that I've seen from the coronavirus crisis is the accelerated adoption of remote work,” Shimamoto says. “One of the biggest hurdles that the profession has had to remote work is the question of whether people can be equally productive working remotely, and I’m hoping that after this the answer will be yes.”

2. A boom of budgeting and forecasting software 

Another surge that will be born from coronavirus: increased use of financial planning and analysis technology like budgeting and forecasting software. “This will be a big thing as people try to make tough decisions in volatile environments. When do we reopen? How much money do we need from PPP or EIDL programs? How would we use that money? Can we pay it back? When can we pay it back? What happens if we have to close again? Budgeting and forecasting tools can really help with these kinds of questions,” Shimamoto says.

3. Broader business continuity planning

While business continuity planning s not directly a technological issue, many of the tools that can help businesses operate seamlessly are technological. And in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, leaders will return to business continuity planning with a new perspective. “In the past, business continuity focused on natural disasters and disaster recovery,” Shimamoto explains. “Now, continuity planning will consider various other situations that could disrupt normal business activities. It reminds me a little of the anthrax scare in the early 2000s, where we had physical issues like opening mail or gaining entry to office buildings. Now, again, you've lost access to your physical office. How do you operate? What do you do? Those solutions are likely to be technological.”

4. Increased adoption of client portals and collaboration software 

In the coming year, accounting firms that haven’t already are likely to warm up to client portals, both to facilitate remote work for employees and to provide touch-free convenience for clients. Organizations will also see increased use of collaboration software, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, where they can share files, have asynchronous conversations, and electronically manage workplans with employees and business partners. “Having the ability to exchange information electronically, easily, and effectively from the comfort of your own home, or from the client's or business partner’s perspective from the comfort of their own home or their own office, will be a high priority,” Shimamoto notes.

5. Accelerating automation

Shimamoto says that, prior to the pandemic, a rise in process automation would have been at the top of his list of tech predictions. While more pressing concerns have knocked it down a few notches, automation—specifically robotic process automation (RPA)—will offer a unique opportunity to businesses willing to explore its possibilities. “As we look toward 2021, we’ll see automation come back into focus, and RPA will be the technology leading the way,” Shimamoto explains.

6. Souped-up cybersecurity

Underlying every technological advance is the need for improved cybersecurity. Organizations who are implementing new tech should address the accompanying cyber risks before, not after, they move forward. “A lot of people will use cybersecurity as the excuse: ‘We can’t do that because it might lead to a data breach,’” Shimamoto notes. “But if you plan ahead and address cybersecurity upfront, then you can come out much more secure than you were before.”

Want to hear more from Donny? Join us for his technology keynote at ICPAS SUMMIT20. Register now at www.icpas.org/summit.

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