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James Bourke

The best-kept secret at TECH+

IT Roundtable session is a can’t-miss engagement.

April 23, 2012
by James C. Bourke, CPA/CITP/CFF, CGMA

TechByte

The 2012 Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference in partnership with the Association of Accounting Marketing Summit is just around the corner. Some hot topics on the TECH+ side this year include the continued migration to the cloud, the expanding use of mobile and remote technologies, the growth of new technologies being introduced into the workplace (e.g., iPad) and the continued growth in services and opportunities stemming from the new Service Organization Control reporting (SOC 1, 2, and 3) framework.

You can find sessions on those topics if you peruse the conference brochure.

While you’re looking at the brochure, I’d like to direct your attention to the best-kept secret of the TECH+ conference. It’s a session called the IT Roundtable, but you won’t find it among the sessions listed on the main conference days June 11-13.

Instead, the IT Roundtable is one of several pre-conference sessions held June 10, the Sunday before the main conference. In addition, unlike many of the other pre-conference sessions, there is no extra charge for conference attendees to participate in the IT Roundtable.

Attendee participation is one of the factors the makes the IT Roundtable special. While the official name is IT Roundtable, the session actually involves the use of several round tables as the base format for sharing subject matter and insight between conference attendees and some of our industry's leading experts in each of several technology areas.

The two-credit session is intentionally informal, but ALWAYS continues past its scheduled end time, as the group is engaged from start to finish.

As for format, session attendees enter a large open room not knowing exactly what will be discussed. The round tables fill in, and, once we have the group in place, we announce the topics of discussion. Topics are randomly distributed to each of the round tables, and session attendees are asked to migrate to a table with a topic that interests them.

At each of the tables, the conference committee has strategically placed some of our industry's most well-recognized and knowledgeable individuals regarding the topic being discussed at that table.

The round-table format gives attendees interested in the same subject areas the opportunity to interact with one another as well as with the experts. Session attendees have told me that the chance to interact with the industry experts is beyond priceless!

After spending some time in one subject area, session attendees are free to roam from table to table, from subject matter expert to subject matter expert, obtaining as much content and knowledge as possible in the couple of hours allotted.

Session topics are never disclosed before the session and appear nowhere in the conference brochure. That is intentional. At the conference committee level, we want to offer the most current topics of discussion to our attendees and also bring in some of the most knowledgeable speakers and presenters to carry and lead those discussions.

Historically, the AICPA's Top Technology Initiatives survey has been a good source of subject matter to be discussed. This year's survey, sure to be the basis for some discussion items at this year’s IT Roundtable, was released in March, and an accompanying webcast was made available exclusively to IT Section members on April 4.

Although the final list of discussion topics will not be determined until just hours before the start of the conference, there is a good chance attendees will discuss subjects such as:

  • Remote access
  • Privacy policies and compliance
  • Portals
  • Information security
  • Data retention policies and structure
  • Control and use of mobile devices

If you are planning to attend the Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference in partnership with the Association of Accounting Marketing Summit, please check out the IT Roundtable session June 10. It won't be the conference’s best-kept secret for long!

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James C. Bourke, CPA/CITP/CFF, CGMA, is a partner at New Jersey-based accounting firm WithumSmith+Brown, where he is director of firm technology. He is co-chair of the Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference in partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit. He also serves on the AICPA Board of Directors and is a past president of the New Jersey Society of CPAs and a past chair of the AICPA CITP Credential Committee.