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CPAs Role in Leading Innovation


Oct 1, 2017

Four key areas for innovation


In May 2017, the Indiana CPA Society Board of Directors issued a white paper on CPAs Role in Leading Innovation. The paper was the result of the work of a task force created in 2016 to look at innovation and its’ impact on the CPA profession particularly as it pertained to the Indiana CPA Society and its members. The task force conducted extensive research into innovation, performed surveys, and had in-depth discussions with leaders from companies from across Indiana who shared examples of innovation they have seen and been a part of both in and around the profession.  

The task force began by defining innovation as it applied to their work. The definition the group settled on came from Dan McClure, Innovation Lead at ThoughtWorks. That definition is that innovation is “Any practice that leverages creative invention to respond to an important challenge.”
CPAs Who Innovate

In looking at why innovation mattered, a survey of INCPAS members was conducted, which showed that 84% think innovation is important in their role in their organization. The survey also indicated that 50% of members cited INCPAS as a source for innovation and look to INCPAS to provide information and opportunities for collaboration on related topics.

When examining how innovation would impact the profession, the task force found four key areas that were identified in CPA.com’s study “Welcome to the Fast Future…Insights into the CPA of the Future 2015” conducted by Dr. James Canton and the Institute for Global Futures. The study defined the areas as future readiness metrics:

 

Innovation is any practice that leverages creative invention to respond to an important challenge.

When examining how innovation would impact the profession, the task force found four key areas that were identified in CPA.com’s study “Welcome to the Fast Future…Insights into the CPA of the Future 2015” conducted by Dr. James Canton and the Institute for Global Futures. The study defined the areas as future readiness metrics:

 

Key Innovation Areas

 

  1. Disruptive Technology and Innovation
  2. Talent and the Changing Workforce
  3. Globalization and the Marketplace
  4. The Changing Role of the CPA.

 

The paper discusses each of these areas in depth and identified trends in each area, along with opportunities and challenges within each of those four areas. Key opportunities evolved around expansion of services that CPAs could offer in the future to increase their value to clients. In order to expand services, CPAs would need to expand their knowledge and skills, which could in turn provide opportunities for INCPAS to provide new products and services to members.

Further examination into why INCPAS should be involved in innovation was also discussed. The task force noted that a part of the INCPAS mission is to “enhance the professional success of our members”, and agreed that helping members learn about and become more innovative was a way to enhance their professional success.

The paper looks at why CPAs should care about innovation, and a key take away was that “change in business and in the profession is happening at a very rapid rate” and “CPAs have the ability to be key contributors to innovation teams because of their skills and understanding of business.”

Credible solutions that INCPAS could offer to help its members with innovation are presented in the paper, and include:

  • Educate and inform members about innovation, through articles, newsletters, conference sessions, and the CPA Center of Excellence® online community.
  • Connecting members for collaboration, both in person and online. Innovation idea sharing, especially through story telling. This could happen at conferences, through video or print or electronic stories or other live events.
  • Specialized programs to train members on specific innovation related topics.
  • Development of programs or services to help members with specific issues where innovative solutions would help.

 

Top priorities for INCPAS should be:

 

  • Continue to monitor and understand innovation and trends impacting the profession and share information with members.
  • Develop and launch additional opportunities for members to collaborate in new ways.
  • Pursue partnerships with other organizations to bring new programs and services to members.
  • Incorporate innovation into INCPAS and CPA Center of Excellence® communications, with emphasis on featuring members’ personal innovation stories.
  • Influence education of future accounting professionals.
  • Develop an Innovation Advisory Council for INCPAS to use to develop strategic priorities related to innovation.

 

The paper concludes with a challenge to all CPAs to get involved in some way with innovation, and remember that small innovations can have a major impact in the long term. CPAs should begin to set goals and develop metrics to track their innovation successes.

Remember that, as Peter Drucker stated, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”



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    About the Author

    Stephanie M. Parton, CAE, IOM, is the Society's vice president - communications. She is editor-in-chief of the CPA IN Perspective magazine and other INCPAS print and electronic publications. She oversees the department responsible for all marketing, publications, branding, public relations, social media, sponsorships and advertising. In 2016, she was awarded Association Professional of the Year from the Indiana Society of Association Executives. In 2011, she completed the curriculum in association management through the Institute for Organization Management with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She has served as a volunteer member of the Institute since 2011 and chaired the Board of Regents of the Winter Institute in 2017. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the communications field. She is a Certified Association Executive and is a member of the American Society of Association Executives and the Indiana Society of Association Executives.