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Greg LaFollette at QuickBooks Connect
Greg LaFollette will share his years of experience with attendees as he discusses disruptive technologies and how to manage them.
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When there are so many different sessions to choose from at QuickBooks Connect you may be wondering why you should choose to attend a session about technology, especially if you’re someone that has difficulty keeping up with new technology, and I had that same question for Greg Lafollette, CPA/CITP. In response, he gave me a thought provoking answer. He said, “Because technology is the singularly most determinative factor in your entire life about what you’re going to be doing ten years from now.”
If you’re a practitioner this statement is also true for your clients. New technology not only makes it possible for your clients to do things they’ve never been able to do before, but also changes the way they do things (because technology can now be used to accomplish some of the manual tasks they had to do before). However, with so many different types of technology available it can be difficult for you clients to know what types of technology to adopt to help their businesses grow or how certain types of technology will affect their business positively (by creating new opportunities) or negatively (by replacing the jobs they perform). Therefore, you as a trusted business advisor need to be able to recognize, identify, and react to technologies that will impact (directly or indirectly) your current or future clients, and that’s what Greg Lafollette’s session “Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave,” is all about helping you do.
Greg LaFollette was named one of Accounting Technology’s Top 25 Thought-Leaders in 2010 and was included in the CPA Practice Advisor’s “Hall of Fame” in 2011. Among his many roles over the years, he has worked as a CPA for a public practice; the executive editor for the CPA Technology Advisor magazine; a consultant for companies such as Intuit, SAGE, and Microsoft; and, over the last three years, the Vice President of Product Strategy for CPA2Biz (a subsidiary of the American Institute of CPA’s). While all these different roles have helped him become an expert in the area of technology and accounting, one of Greg’s most prominent roles is that of a speaker to which he continues to do today by speaking at multiple conferences throughout the United States to help accounting firms, CPAs, and practitioners choose and adopt the best technologies for their practices and adapt their practices to take advantage of those technologies.
For his upcoming session, Greg wants to take what’s he’s learned throughout these different roles and share that knowledge with practitioners who are serving clients on a regular basis. He said, “I want to teach them how to think and how to live in a world that is rapidly changing, and how to have enough information about all of these different things that are coming to say ‘you know what, I’m confident’ and not to say ‘oh my god, I can’t possibly keep up so I’m just not going to pay any attention to it because it’s just too complicated.’ I want to help practitioners learn how to think and learn how to become better trusted business advisors.”
To explain more on this concept, he said:
“With the technologies that have become prevalent over the past 5 years, we’re now able to do things that we were never able to do before. And there’s a good side and a bad side to that. So for this session the idea is ‘how do you— if you are a trusted business advisor—best advise your clients or help them recognize the businesses that they are in that they shouldn’t be or the businesses that they aren’t in but should be.”
Therefore, the primary learning objective for this session is:
- To learn how to react to and recognize technologies that are going to be disruptive to your client’s business or will be opportunities for your client’s business
Greg provided two examples (the first showing how technology helped him and the second showing how technology was disruptive to his clients):
He said, “In 1992, my firm in South Dakota launched the first website for professional services business in the state. It was a big deal and there was a party held at the chamber of commerce. And the mayor was there and they had a ribbon cutting for our homepage, and I remember that the mayor came over to me and he said ‘That’s so cool that you guys have a homepage. What’s a homepage?’ It was something we didn’t know either (laughs). I just knew it was something we needed to start doing. So we were very advanced in terms of adopting technology.”
Greg was also an early adopter of Webcasting and Podcasting, and was the founder (in 2004) of the Tech Gap, the first blog dedicated to the area of tax and technology.
He then went on to give his second example:
“At the time I also had three pretty significant clients that ran large travel agencies. And I never saw it coming. I never went to those guys and said, ‘We better get out of the road because there’s a bus coming.’ And five years later they were all gone. They were just gone. So with this session, I want to help practitioners understand how they can look out there now and see all of these different technologies and recognize the ones that are truly disruptive or the ones that will allow their clients to have opportunities that they’ve never had before.”
To help attendees achieve this objective, Greg plans to:
- talk about specific technologies such as Uber, GrubHub Seamless, and Hotel Tonight to help you understand what a technology that’s going to be disruptive looks like
- provide you with a framework that you can use to evaluate general kinds of technology to find out some of the affects this technology will have and how it’s going to affect your clients
- share examples from personal experience to demonstrate what a disruptive technology looks like for a client and what a technology that provides opportunities looks like for a client
Attendees that want to know more about how to become trusted business advisors will also benefit from this session because they’ll learn what’s important to know about technology to keep themselves from looking bad in front of their clients. Greg gave an example to explain:
He said, “There are a lot of new technologies for fine dining establishments that are changing the way things are done, such as open table (a website where online reservations can be made), and if one of your big clients is a restaurant owner for example and they say to you ‘What do you think about open table?’ and you go ‘Open what?’ then that’s bad for you. You have to know about it. You don’t have to know everything about it, but you have to be able to recognize the things (technologies) that are going to materially change what your clients are doing. You have to be generally aware of the genre of the technology possibilities in order to lead your clients, and the process I give them during the session will help them understand how to do that.”
For the practitioner that wants to become a business advisor and better help their clients, Greg’s session will teach you what you need to know to change from being reactive to new technology to using it as an opportunity to better advise your clients.