Top Ten Tech Needs of Finance

Business and finance applications top the list. Finding IT workers, on the other hand, is not a big problem. StaffMay 8, 2002

What are the most critical technology needs of finance managers?

Not necessarily what you’d think. In the twelfth annual Top Technologies list released by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), respondents rated business and financial applications as their top tech priority. Last year, those types of software programs ranked only fifth on the list. Obviously, the fallout from the Enron scandal has rearranged the priorities of finance types.

“The very nature of financial reporting — its purpose and significance — is now a major part of the national debate, so it makes sense that reporting applications would figure so prominently on the list,” says Wayne Harding, a member of the AICPA’s top technologies task force and information technology executive committee.

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The poll also revealed just how integral technology has become to the finance function. Last year, training and technology competency (of users) came in fifth on the list; this year, respondents put it second. Notes Roman Kepczyk, chair of the top technologies task force: “Technology is now so inextricably tied to our business and personal lives that the ability to use it effectively and efficiently is a true source of concern.”

IT workers, however, may find the results of the poll a true concern. According to the respondents in the annual survey, finding qualified tech personnel is no big thing (number nine on the list). And purveyors of Web services and business instant messaging may want to take note of the survey. Those technologies ranked eight and ten, respectively, on the list.

Also of note: information security and controls was the most important tech issue for finance types last year. This year, that category fell to third on the list. In the post-Enron era, it appears finance managers may be more concerned with a breech of ethics than a breech of security.

Here, then, is the complete ranking:

1. Business and financial reporting applications
2. Training and technology competency
3. Information security and controls
4. Quality of service
5. Disaster recovery (includes business continuation and contingency planning)
6. Communication technologies, bandwidth
7. Remote connectivity tools
8. Web-based and Web-enabled applications (Internet)
9. Qualified IT personnel
10. Messaging applications (E-mail, fax, voicemail, instant messaging)

The 2002 Top Technologies issues were drawn from a master list of 42 issues. The AICPA conducted an online survey to determine which of the 42 were most important. A total of 195 people responded. Of those, 135 were CPAs who hold the Institute’s CITP (Certified Information Technology Professional) credential.

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