Technology Reading List

January 31, 2018By Jess Halverson BowyerBlog, Disruptive Technology and Innovation

Digital Disruption and Technology Trends

The Coming Wave of Digital Disruption


10 Principles for Winning the Game of Digital Disruption


Where is technology taking the economy?


Bitcoin and Blockchain

Accountants Need to Brace Themselves for AI and Blockchain


The Beginning of Blockchain (Podcast)


Blockchain for Management and Auditors


Automation and the Future of Work

Accounting Pros Optimistic on Automation of Profession


Embracing Technology in Your Organization

How to Run a Tech-Forward Firm (Podcast)

Telecommuting: Good or Bad for Business?

January 31, 2018By Bob Reynolds, CPA, CGMABlog, Disruptive Technology and Innovation

With all the advances in technology, most employers provide for employees to work remotely from home. HR experts often cite this as a benefit of great importance to millennials and younger professionals when evaluating a prospective employer. That said, I often hear many employers and managers in my age bracket cite this practice as detrimental to client service and productivity. We all know there are “pros” and “cons” to everything, so I thought it might be worthwhile to take a closer look at the topic of telecommuting.

According to a February 2017 article in the Harvard Business Review, many of the most-valued benefits for employees were ones that provided flexibility and enhanced work-life balance. Flexibility and work-life balance are of great importance to a large segment of today’s workforce: parents. Many younger workers value flexible hours and work-life balance above salary and health insurance in a potential job.

Offering the ability to work from home and flexible hours are affordable perks for companies that want to offer appealing benefits but can’t afford an expensive benefits package. These benefits typically cost the employer nothing — and often save money by lowering overhead costs. Other commonly cited benefits for employers include the following:

  • Working remotely can increase productivity. Employees do not encounter commuting time, they do not experience the distractions of water cooler gossip, unnecessary impromptu meetings, and the disruptive behaviors of colleagues.
  • Higher employee morale. Studies cite that remote workers are generally happier with their work and often miss less time away from work for sickness or personal reasons.
  • Providing remote work opportunities can lower employee turnover.
  • Companies can save overhead and facilities related costs.
  • Communication is more intentional and purposeful. Remote workers are often more engaged as their interactions with coworkers and colleagues are often better planned, more organized and outcome driven.

So, given all these benefits, why do some employers remain skeptic?

While employers see the benefits of working remotely and providing flexible work schedules, many choose not to provide these benefits because of the management and cultural challenges they can create. Among these challenges are the following:

  • The need for employee personal accountability. The most common employer concern is how to prevent the employee of taking advantage of the benefit.
  • Lack of workplace culture. Culture is important to building effective work groups and aligning employee behavior to advance a company’s mission and vision. Culture-building activities may not be effective without face-to-face interaction.
  • Some studies have shown remote employees are overlooked for promotion and salary increases due to the lack of “visibility” with managers and supervisors.
  • Dependence on technology. The ability to work remotely is totally dependent on the employees’ technology resources. Connectivity and stability of an employees’ internet service provider can adversely impact productivity when working from home.
  • Constantly connected. While true of their colleagues working in the office, remote workers may feel a greater need to “stay connected” resulting in less of a work-life balance due to constantly checking emails and their smart phones.

If working remotely is vital to our ability to attract and retain the best and the brightest, what are we to do as employers? Simply put, we need to set expectations with our remote workers that provides mutual benefits for them and us. Some examples:

  • The requirement to maintain an on-line presence for certain hours during the day.
  • Regularly scheduled communication with supervisors and managers.
  • Days when they are required to be in the office.

I’m certain there are many more. I am interested in hearing from all of you on how your company is balancing the need to provide employees the opportunity to work remotely with the needs of your organization?

Will Bitcoin Continue its Boom or Have its Bubble Burst

January 31, 2018By Phil Jackson, CPABlog, Disruptive Technology and Innovation

Whose inspiration would you follow about the current Bitcoin windfall and frenzy? Do you think “A Change Will Do You Good” as Sheryl Crow’s music lyrics might suggest, or follow the recommendation of The Steve Miller Band to “Take the Money and Run?”  Obviously there is a wide range of opinion based upon your individual viewpoint and the increased awareness regarding virtual currency (sometimes referred to as cryptocurrency).

Why are virtual currencies creating so much excitement? Interestingly, one reason could be a result of Wall Street recently receiving its initial exposure to Bitcoin with the first-ever futures contract going to market and making it more well known.

As a brief overview: virtual currency is a digital asset designed to convert goods and services using cryptography, and it is not backed by any government. The appeal of this medium of exchange varies and continues to be speculative at best.

Some feel it offers a greater degree of security than more typical cybersecurity measures in combatting identity theft and fraud for reasons such as:

  • Elimination of seizure by third parties by having multiple redundant copies of the transactions in a database.
  • Current inability of implementing a virtual currency tax system since third parties cannot intercept the transaction.
  • Reduction of chargebacks as transactions cannot be reversed.

Some skeptics about virtual currency provide the following reasons:

  • With virtual currency being unregulated, market manipulation could occur based on parties who have a large financial interest. This itself could promote fraudulent activity.
  • It’s too difficult to determine its valuation since they lack a benchmark and have no earnings.
  • As an alternative and dominating means of exchange, how do financial institutions exit the currency business?

This is a relatively new frontier and asset in the form of an exchange medium. To optimistic individuals, virtual currency may seem exciting and innovative. Others may dismiss it as a significant risk due to its volatility. Regardless of your perception, it is becoming increasingly more popular among individuals and businesses.

The fact that Congress has introduced a bill known as The CryptoCurrency Tax Fairness Act tends to imply there is some legitimacy of these virtual currencies. Who would have thought virtual currency could now be a part of someone’s holiday wish list this year?

Having a certain amount of professional skepticism along with the openness to accept new beliefs is a necessary balance for us to remain unbiased trusted advisors. As CPAs, we have to begin understanding how to address the accounting, tax and auditing methodologies that need to be considered. What factors will you reflect upon when an individual or client asks your suggestions on virtual currency transactions?