CPA technologies to consider this holiday season

Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP, CGMA

November 27, 2018

CPAs are notoriously hard to shop for during the holidays due to their commonly sensible nature, particularly regarding updating office technologies that are still working perfectly fine. Whether you are looking for ideas for your own technology wish list or something for your staff, this is a CPA wish list of technologies to both delight as well as improve productivity. Also included are ideas for firmwide gifts to consider for your entire staff.

1.       Upsized monitor: Triple monitors are the most common configuration for CPAs according to the latest CPAFMA IT Benchmarks, but in many cases, they are not standardized as they might have evolved by adding an additional monitor every few years. This can lead to an assortment of sizes and resolutions that are not ergonomically optimized for personal productivity. An emerging trend in firms is to replace at least two, if not three, of these monitors with a single oversize computer display. Dell, HP, LG, and Samsung have 43” displays with 4K UHD resolutions that fit the bill and are priced between $500 and $800.

2.       New tablet: Tablets are an effective way to get caught up on the day’s news and firm activities particularly when away from the office and are often another technology that could be due for an upgrade. The good news is that whether you are a long-time user or are considering your first tablet, there is wide range of models to meet your needs. Apple’s iPad is the most selected tablet of choice by CPAs with devices ranging from the 9.7” Wi-Fi-only iPad starting at $329 up to the 12.9” iPad Pro with a variety of storage and connectivity options starting at $999. For first time tablet buyers, competitive products such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, ASUS ZenPad 3S, and Microsoft’s entry-level Surface Go are priced under $350.

3.       Collaboration headset: Applications such as Skype, Teams and Slack are allowing CPAs to collaborate virtually from their workstation with other firm members when they are working from another location. However, speaking through the computer microphone leaves a lot to desire, often resulting in using your smartphone or telephone handset for clear audio. The solution is a Bluetooth headset with the ability to pair with your computer and your smartphone and be able to easily switch between the two. For all day use in the office consider utilizing the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC priced at $170, but for portability and speaking on the road, the Plantronics Voyager 5200 for under $90 is a great option.

4.       Standing desk: CPAs often sit eight or more hours per day even though study after study points to how unhealthy this can be and that both health and productivity can be increased by standing as little as two hours per day. One solution is to acquire a standing desk that electronically adjusts up and down to a prescribed height with the touch of a button. Units from Upliftdesk, Varidesk and Jarvis start at $495 but be sure to purchase their business models that can hold the added weight of multiple monitors and CPA desktop accessories. For users looking for a solution that can sit on top of their existing workspace, Versatables and Varidesk have a variety of spring-loaded desktop units starting at $375 that are a snap to use.

5.       Staff gifts for under $50: While food and gift cards are always appreciated by staff during the holidays, sometimes you want to consider tech tools that they can use. 

a.       Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation Smart Speaker: If you have not tried out a voice-controlled speaker, this is the unit to start with. You can ask the Alexa personal assistant to play music, tell you the current time, tomorrow’s weather, and even the current news. Alexa can also integrate with other smart devices such as thermostats, televisions, and lights to turn them on our up, which are just a few of the hundreds of useful skills that are already programmed.

b.       Laptop privacy filter: When working on your laptop in public places you can minimize exposure to confidential data on your screen with privacy filters that allow you to see clearly when looking head-on but shade your screen for curious onlookers.

c.       Mobile power solutions: Keeping mobile devices charged can be a challenge so having a hybrid high-speed charging portable battery with a dual port wall charger solves two problems with one device. Anker’s PowerCore Fusion is a compact 5000mAh battery-charger. Anker also has a 10000mAh Lite/Slim batteries with twice the power.

d.       Device trackers: Misplaced keys or smartphone will be a thing of the past with the Tile Pro locator device. This latest iteration from Tile has an immediate search range of 300 feet as well as replaceable batteries for years of use.

e.       Mug warmer: Tepid coffee or tea could be a thing of the past with the Mr. Coffee Mug warmer that will be especially appreciated by staff during the chilly winter months ahead.

The holidays are a time of giving and receiving and most CPAs would love cool gadgets for their office or home to enjoy during the lull before the start of another busy season!

Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP is the Director of Firm Technology Strategy for Right Networks and works exclusively with CPA firms to implement today’s leading best practices and technologies incorporating Lean Six Sigma methodologies to optimize firm production workflows. Roman is also the author of “Quantum of Paperless: A Partner’s Guide to Accounting Firm Optimization” which is available online to members of the AICPA PCPS and on Amazon.com.