Embracing Tech to Better Your Membership

by Michael D. Colgan, CAE | Feb 28, 2019

Business and management publications continue to address the speed of change and the role technology plays in this arena. Innovation has far-reaching effects on how we work, how we live, and how we interact with others. New technologies can affect everything, even the next spice we will be adding to our spice rack. That’s right. The 130-year-old spice company McCormick is using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify the next great flavor. Technology with creativity is a winning combination in our fast-paced world.

The PICPA, too, in a way, is using AI to flavor our members’ online experience. When people are on certain areas of our website, such as the membership application, CPA Exam requirements, or course search pages, our online chat function is customized to provide guidance to our online visitors and the resource team at our headquarters is poised to help.

This is just a small dash of the technology we’ve added to enhance your experience. Operational excellence is at the foundation of our strategic priorities of engagement, professional development, voice of the profession, and talent pipeline. I thought I’d share some of our advances that will add spice to your membership experience in the age of innovation.

Engagement – Building your professional network by attending events and planning programs continues to be a core member benefit, but it is much different than it was five years ago. Who would have thought that we would include throwing axes and creating artwork as networking opportunities? It’s not just a change in the types of networking events that you’ll find at the PICPA; technology has made it much easier to plan meetings. Our conference planning team continues to see a growth in meeting participation through web interface and screen shares that allow our experts to donate their precious time to planning programs without having to account for an additional one to five hours of travel time.

Professional development – We continue to see a trend toward more demand for online learning. Last year, we introduced seminars to our webcasting options, and this year we are investing in a new technology platform to enhance our conference broadcasts. We’re very excited at the prospect of offering concurrent session options. The new platform also will make it easier for the virtual participants to engage in conference discussions. New for the coming year, we will be offering certificate and badge programs to help members enhance their knowledge and provide a vehicle to promote their new level of expertise. Some of the certificates include cybersecurity, nonprofit accounting, and accounting advisory services. Watch for more details later in the spring.

Voice of the profession – Providing unbiased technical guidance to legislators through testimony and outreach will continue to be a core PICPA strategy. But the team will also lean heavily on new technology to keep you informed with more education (watch for the opportunity to virtually participate in our Day on the Hill) and updates through social media channels. Our consumer outreach continues to evolve as more people get their information online. Our CPA Voice volunteers enhance their digital profiles and increase their online presence by blogging, answering online Ask a CPA questions, and participating in videos that will be shared through social media and included in our digital public relations campaign.

Finally, I want to point out that we are introducing a new highlight in the magazine called “Did You Know?”, as you can see at the conclusion of my column. The focus of my column often is on professional updates and innovative ideas, but we also want our members to always remember and embrace their PICPA benefits – both new and old. Expect to see more of these callouts in future issues of the magazine, and be sure to take advantage of the benefits you gain through the PICPA.

Michael D. Colgan, CAE, is CEO and executive director of the PICPA. He can be reached at mcolgan@picpa.org.

Did You Know?

PICPA membership provides a range of services to help CPAs succeed at every stage of their careers. Watch this section for highlights of your PICPA benefits in each issue of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal.

  • Earn up to 16 hours of complimentary CPE throughout the year. These in-person courses, webinars, and on-demand programs are valued at over $350. Check it out at www.picpa.org/freecpe.
  • On the members-only PICPA Connect online discussion boards, CPAs are discussing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Section 199A rules, qualified business income, Form 1099-MISC, and dozens of other tax topics. It’s a secure place to seek input from your peers. Check out PICPA Connect at www.picpa.org/connect.
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