Each January, thousands of consumer electronics vendors and hundreds of thousands of emerging technologists converge in Las Vegas to experience the latest trends, applications and consumer products at the International Consumer Electronics Show. This year provided a myriad of products that could one day find their way from the consumer market into practical use within the accounting profession. Here are six products worth sharing with CPAs:
- FileThis.com: One of the most interesting products from the annual CES Showstoppers meeting was vendor FileThis, whom had a “fetching” solution for firms doing back office accounting for wealthy individuals. This web service logs into dozens of online bank, brokerage, utilities and insurance providers and automatically downloads and organizes brokerage and other monthly statements sent to the recipients in their secure FileThisCloud storage area (or the client’s own computer or web storage including products like DropBox, Google Drive, EverNote). This service uses OCR and artificial intelligence tools to organize the data so it is ready for the CPA to provide guidance or prepare returns.
- NeatConnect Cloud Scanner: Neat made a name for itself by making easy to use products such as their NeatReceipts mobile scanner. This year at CES, they displayed the NeatConnect wireless scanner that could scan directly either to a network drive, a specific email address, or into a cloud based storage provider such as DropBox, GoogleDrive, Evernote or their NeatCloud, making it easy for clients to capture physical documents so they are better organized for their CPA.
- ASUS Transformer Duet: Many accountants are asking for mobility and debating whether to get a laptop or a tablet. With ASUS’s Duet TD300, you get both! This device switches between being a Windows 8.1 notebook with an Intel i7 processor to an Android tablet operating on ARM® processors. With the keyboard dock attached, it works as a fully functional laptop with up to a 1Tb disk drive, and HDMI, LAN and three USB ports. Disconnect the keyboard, and the 13.3” 1920x1080 HD touch display becomes a tablet PC with a 128Gb SSD, or an Android tablet giving the CPA the best of both worlds.
- Smart Watches: Most CPAs today utilize a smartphone, but accessing it when meeting with clients is not always convenient. The next generation of smart watches including Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, Pebble’s Steel, and Qualcomm’s Toq, link to the wearer’s smart phone to provide alerts of incoming phone calls, email, or appointments, with a quick glance at the wrist.
- LG Curved TV and Smartphones: One of the most talked about trends from the 2014 CES show was the roll out of curved screens, even featuring some television displays that could curve on demand. Both LG and Samsung showed off high definition/resolution curved displays that create a better viewing experience for individuals sitting directly in front of them similar to a CPA sitting at their desk to complete a tax return. Curved screens could one day replace the multiple flat panels that CPAs utilize allowing them to work more effectively for longer periods of time. LG also displayed their G Flex smartphone with a curved screen which may reset user’s expectations of phones that fit better ergonomically in the user’s hand (or back pocket) which will probably be next year’s standard smartphone trend.
- Brunton Hydrogen Reactor: With all the tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches CPAs will be carrying in the future, the need for multiple power cords in every car and power outlet will become a necessity unless you have a portable power source. While solar chargers continue to make inroads, the coolest power gadget seen at CES (which is fun to say as well as to show off) was Brunton’s personal hydrogen reactor which is designed for providing power in the most remote situations.
Technology products that are successful at the consumer level can sometimes find a place within CPA firms to make them more productive. Technology will continue to evolve and the International Consumer Electronics show will continue to bring today’s “bleeding edge tools” that become tomorrow’s standards!
Roman H. Kepczyk is Director of Consulting for Xcentric, LLC and works exclusively with accounting firms to implement today’s leading best practices and technologies.