The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) today released its annual Top Technology Initiatives Survey for 2012, based on the responses of 2,259 AICPA members.
The technology the CPAs believe will have the most impact on their organizations this year is information security; last year it was the ıcontrol and use of mobile devices.ı
That makes sense. You need robust security when your employees can use mobile devices to log onto corporate networks to access data and store it on their laptops, tablets, and smart phones so they can work wherever and whenever they want, even if that means at a Starbucks where there are bad guys sucking down lattıs and watching their key strokes to hack their devices and auction off your companyıs financials to the highest bidder.
And this is not to say that the survey respondents think 2011 saw the problem of controlling mobile devices licked; itıs now third on the list, ahead of ıbusiness process improvement with technologyı and behind ıremote access.ı
So far, so ho-hum. You need security; youıre stuck with mobile devices. But whatıs unsettling is that when asked about their organizationsı technology priorities for 2012, and how well they thought their companies were dealing with them, only 34% felt confident that ıemerging technologiesı were being properly ıleveraged.ı Respondents were far more confident that the IT environment was locked down (62%); that data was being managed effectively (61%), and that risk and compliance were being handled quite well, thank you very much (65%). But new technologies? Not so much.
The problem, of course, is that this makes no sense. You canıt secure the IT environment, or manage data and risk without taking advantage of emerging technologies. In IT, things move fast. It wasnıt so long ago ı no more than two years, Iıd say, three at the most ı that businesspeople were still making jokes about Facebook. ıThose darn kids,ı about summed it up. Now every business has a Facebook page; marketing departments have ever-growing social media budgets; there are analysts on the payroll to parse social media sentiment, and the security folk are tearing their hair out about the dangers of downloading apps on mobile devices that access corporate information. So you need emerging technologies to manage all that new technology. Old technologies, such as firewalls, donıt protect anything if your data ı essentially, your entire business ı resides outside the enterpriseıs physical walls.
Information needs to be encrypted so that when itıs stolen (and it will be stolen) it will be useless to the thief. Businesses need to be able to disable mobile devices remotely. They need to be able to find them when theyıre lost, or wipe them clean if they canıt be found. When theyıre stolen, access to the network needs to be denied. These tasks canıt be accomplished with old technologies. So if, as the AICPA members believe, information security will be the technology with the greatest impact in 2012, their organizations better get busy, and get better, at emerging technologies.
The one thing one can say with absolute certainty about technology is that it changes fast. Now most people donıt like change and will go to almost any lengths to avoid it.
Today, thatıs not a viable option.