Accountex USA 2017 held its annual conference in Boston September 6-8, with attendance up 30 percent over last year’s event. Accountex USA’s Executive Director, Brian Cuthbert, announced to attendees that the annual event is scheduled to take place in Boston for the next three years — through 2020.
Cuthbert also pledged to attendees that Accountex would continue “to produce more original content, offer an ongoing cycle of CPE opportunities monthly, and connect with members year-round.”
With over 50 Breakout Sessions and some 80 expert panelists, the conference covered all aspects of accounting technology and best practice, drawing attendees from across the country and the world, including a large and enthusiastic contingent from Australia.
Several Breakout Sessions had to be scheduled a second time to accommodate popular demand. Stephen King, CEO of Growthforce, presented his two sessions by video from Houston when he was prevented from attending the conference in person due to Hurricane Harvey.
True to its tradition of featuring the largest expo floor of independent accounting technology in the U.S., the Accountex 2017 Expo featured no fewer than 100 exhibitors showcasing their products to attendees.
As Kacee Johnson, founder of Blue Ocean Principles, pointed out at one popular panel discussion, “Accountex’s Accounting Technology Ecosystems has grown in just the last year from some 200 accounting solutions to over 700 today.” The Ecosystem was designed to help accounting professionals navigate the complex and rapidly evolving world of accounting technology. To download Version 3.0 of the full listing of solutions in graphic form, click here.
Johnson chaired the standing-room-only panel, Evolution of the Accounting Ecosystem, which featured panelists who are top executives at a wide range of innovative solution providers, including Xero’s Amy Vetter, Sage’s Ted Kless, Misty Megia of TSheets, Receipt Bank’s Damien Greathead, Hubdoc’s Jamie Shulman, and Becky Riffis at Bill.com.
The panelists shared their top insights and concerns with attendees. “Mobile phone is now a key business tool” noted Damien Greathead, adding, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new frontier for delivering data that allows accountants to save their clients money.” “Marketing and social media have completely changed the game for practitioners” explained Misty Megia. Becky Riffis pointed out that “Social media allows us to get feedback in real time, which also makes us all more accountable.” A big topic at the panel was concerns about security breaches and fraud. “Security is the soft underbelly of the tech transformation,” said Ed Kless.
Expo Tech Sessions and Demo Theater
A new feature of this year’s conference was the almost 30 Expo Tech sessions, held at the Expo Tech and Demo Theaters set up in the Exhibition Hall, where vendors were able to showcase their technology in interactive sessions.
Participating vendors included Workspace, ADP, Tsheets, Sage, Catching Clouds LLC, Concur, Xero, BOE Software, Gravity Software. Abacus Next, Auvenir, Enspire Commerce, Keeper Security, Leap the Pond, LivePlan, Unanet, Receipt Bank, Deputy, Chrome River, SurePayroll, and DocuPhase.com.Arti
Peer-to-peer lunch networking was another new feature introduced at Accountex 2017. Lunch on the second day of the conference was organized so that participants could sit at tables under the following categories:
- Practice Management: What’s Working and What’s Missing
- Managing the Bookkeeper Staff for Growth
- QuickBooks Update
- Managing Client Expectations
- Advances in Accounting Technology
- How to Shop and Select New Accounting Technology
- How Technology is Shaping the Future Finance Department
As conference participants networked over lunch, thought leaders in each of the above areas — including Accountex leaders Charlie Russell, Judie McCarthy, Donny Shimamoto, and others — circulated around the tables joining in the discussion and answering questions.
Accountex USA 2017 Keynotes
Five keynote presentations provided an opportunity for all conference participants to come together to hear from top thought leaders in the field. For example, Jennifer Warawa, Executive Vice President, Product Marketing at Sage, shared insights on the topic, Taking a Human Approach to AI: Your Role in Being the Catalyst for Transformation. She noted that according to a recent survey, “96% of accountants feel optimistic about the future and 68% see their role changing.” Pointing out that “while technology is an enabler that allows you to work better and serve your clients better, technology doesn’t make the role of accountants less crucial — just the opposite.”
The keynote by Amy Vetter, Chief Relationship Officer at Xero, focused on the critical issue of how to achieve work-life balance and harmony.
Another keynote, by Randi Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and former Director of Marketing at Facebook, spoke to “10 Exciting Trends Impacting Your Business Right Now.” Zuckerberg also autographed copies of her new book, Dot Complicated, a New York Times bestseller about our (sometimes overly) wired lives.
At his keynote address, The Role of Finance in Strategy, Innovation and Technology Implementation, Ted Delgado, Director, North American Controller at Hershey, emphasized that “Big data, faster user-friendly self-service systems, and artificial intelligence are transforming the role of finance and accounting.”
The series of keynotes was anchored by an inspiring talk on the last day of the conference by Daymond John, CEO and Founder of FUBU, and co-star of ABC’s Emmy award winning Shark Tank. In his talk, Fundamentals for Success in Business and Life, John shared with attendees that he wished he’d had the help of an accounting professional when his business was in start-up mode — and also signed copies of his book, the New York Times Best-Seller, The Power of Broke (Crown Publishing).
And More … Plus Red Sox!
Welcome parties, coffee breaks, cocktail receptions, and other relaxation events provided further opportunities for attendees to network, make new contacts, and socialize.
Attendees even had the opportunity to have their pictures taken with Jason Varitek, the Boston Red Sox former catcher and current Red Sox special assistant.