North American Accounting Professionals See Data Oversight as Top Priority for Technology

American Institute of CPAs and CPA Canada Conduct Joint Survey

May 1, 2013

NEW YORK (May 1, 2013) – Big Data and other information-driven insights have the potential to transform decision-making by businesses, but the right infrastructure and safeguards must be in place to pay off on that promise. Accounting professionals are helping to capitalize on these new opportunities for their clients and employers, but are also becoming more cognizant of the challenges involved with emerging technologies, a joint survey by the American Institute of CPAs and Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) found.

Managing and retaining data has emerged as the top priority for American and Canadian respondents and the organizations they serve in the coming year, according to the 2013 North America Top Technology Initiatives Survey. That’s a departure from results in the United States last year, when IT security led the list – a spot it had claimed for nine of the past 10 years. This is the first time the survey has been conducted jointly in both the U.S. and Canada.

While survey respondents see data as a key differentiator for businesses, they are less confident in their organizations’ ability to successfully address several underlying technology priorities than they were a year ago. Last year, a majority of U.S. survey takers said they were successfully meeting goals in eight of 10 top initiatives. This year, the U.S. portion of the survey identified only two such categories.  

Canadian respondents were slightly more upbeat--a majority expressed confidence in four of 10 initiatives for 2013.

“The good news is that accounting professionals in both the United States and Canada feel comfortable in handling what they view as their two top priorities for the coming year–data management and IT security,” said Jeannette Koger, director of member specialization and credentialing for the AICPA. “As we go down the list, we see concerns about dealing with emerging technologies such as mobile devices and the cloud, managing IT spending and preventing computer fraud. These are issues that all businesses in North America are struggling to confront, to some degree.”

Frank Colantonio, director of continuing education at CPA Canada, said it’s not surprising that data oversight has emerged as the top issue in this year’s survey.

“Many organizations are facing increased risks associated with data management because of an explosive growth in volume and the complexity of information being handled,” Colantonio said. “However, in this era of big data, effective management will ultimately lead to better business decisions and service for clients.”

Representatives of AICPA and CPA Canada are available for media interviews about the Top Technology Initiatives Survey and general inquiries on how the profession is adapting to innovation. Please make arrangements with the media contacts listed above.

For CPAs, an AICPA webcast that drills down into the survey results is available on July 16 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The CPE-eligible event is $106, but various discounts are available for AICPA members, members of the Institute’s Information Management and Technology Assurance section and Certified Information Technology Professional credential holders. To learn more, visit the registration page.  

Ranking of Top Technology Initiatives by Country (With Confidence Level for Meeting Goal)

*Percentage of survey takers who identified themselves as “confident” or “highly confident” that their organization is adequately addressing this category.

Survey Methodology

The 2013 Top Technology Initiatives Survey was conducted electronically among AICPA members from Feb. 11 to March 6, with 1,670 complete responses received. Some 36 percent of U.S. survey takers were in public accounting, 36 percent were in business and industry posts, and 28 percent work in consulting, government or not-for-profit organizations. Most participants said they regularly encounter IT-related questions in their line of work.

An identical survey was conducted among CAs (chartered accountants) and CPAs in Canada from Feb. 14 to March 5, with 219 responses received. The breakdown by sector is business and industry (40 percent), public accounting (25 percent), government and military (15 percent), consulting and law (10 percent) and nonprofit (10 percent).

The margin of error for the AICPA portion of the survey is +/- 2.4 percentage points. For CPA Canada, it is +/- 6.6 percentage points. The survey was conducted using Vovici EFM Feedback software.

Topline results are available online through the AICPA,, or CPA Canada,