Boomer BTC Summit 2023: CPA Firms Accelerate Azure Adoption & Workflow Automation

This week Boomer hosted their annual BTC Summit in Kansas City, bringing key CPA industry thought leaders and change agents across their Process and Technology Circles. The hot topic on everyone’s mind was AI, in particular the impact of generative AI technologies on the profession, where and how to get started, effective governance, and practical application in the firms. The agenda was packed with relevant and timely topics including M&A pitfalls and success, controls, ChatGPT policies, Azure migration case studies and steps to get started with software integration and automation. 

Here are my top five takeaways from the event:

1. Generative AI’s Untapped Potential: Firms are just beginning to harness the power of Generative AI. A common agreement was that despite risks, such as intellectual property leakage, avoiding or restricting this technology isn’t viable. As this “genie is already out of the bottle”, many firms are developing or implementing policies to address confidentiality, accuracy, and bias. Notable applications include using ChatGPT for ideation, complex topic training, document summarization, and content refinement.

2. Rapid Azure Adoption: A noticeable shift from last year’s perspective on public cloud usage for firm asset management was evident. Current firm strategies included:

  • Leveraging Azure in lieu of refreshing on-site server hardware.
  • Utilizing Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) to service offshore outsourced resources.
  • Moving production applications and data to Azure with an AVD build out for core business functions, while keeping legacy applications and data and non-production data on site.
  • Moving to a full Azure and AVD solution and moving away from onsite hardware.

Firms are now partnering with providers like Netgain to help extend their bench and Azure expertise while others are outsourcing to providers to repurpose IT talent for Firm initiatives.

3. Practical Automation: Automation is no longer a pipe dream and has become a tangible reality. Many firms target primary challenges like client and employee onboarding, e-filing, tax preparation, and document sharing. While various automation providers showcased their solutions, many firms are gaining early benefits from the Microsoft Power Platform and Power Automate. Some firms that are further along on their automation journey are starting to use Microsoft Azure Logic Apps for more complex projects requiring code revisions and error management.

4. M&A Momentum: The M&A pace remains robust. Firms face the task of integrating newly acquired entities in terms of culture, process, and technology. Using the public cloud to transfer the acquired firm’s data and applications quickly and securely has become a strategy for many, allowing them more time for intricate tasks like data migration and training.

5. Productivity Enhancement: Conversations and Boomer’s shared benchmarking data pointed to a notable 10% revenue/FTE increase among surveyed firms. Much of this surge can be attributed to technological investments and offshore expansion.

Amidst the myriad of discussions on change, the keynote address by Alex Dorr stood out significantly. Alex’s talk was focused on reducing drama in our day-to-day work lives. As we continue to figure out how to adapt to the rate of change in this industry, be it technology changes, process changes, staffing changes or changes in our client base, finding ways to reduce unproductive time and negative emotional experiences is going to be key to improving our culture and productivity. Alex’s insights on focusing our energy on our visionary change agents who champion accountability, while also understanding those resistant to change, were enlightening. Alex also underscored the detrimental cycle of venting, advocating instead for brief empathetic responses followed by solution-focused discussions.

The Boomer BTC Summit 2023 has solidified its reputation as a pivotal event for the CPA industry, illuminating the profound intersections of technology within the profession. With the advancements in generative AI, the accelerated shift to Azure adoption, and the tangible momentum surrounding workflow automation, the industry’s trajectory is clearly tech-forward. Alex Dorr’s keynote emphasized that even in this tech-driven era, the human facet—our interactions and emotions—must not be sidelined. As firms embrace the newest technologies, maintaining a supportive work environment remains paramount. The future is bright, with a harmonious blend of technology and emotional intelligence leading the way.

Join us on the journey to accelerate Azure adoption and workflow automation for CPA firms by tuning in to our monthly Azure webinar series.

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