Technology-In-Residence: The Evolving Role of the Traveling Professional

As IMA VP of Research & Policy and Professor-in-Residence, I travel a lot to our offices in China, the Middle East, and Europe as well as to conferences around the world. But I manage to stay connected to IMA Global Headquarters in New Jersey via technology – something that has increasingly made an impact on the business world. The increased global need for connectedness is fuelling the development of technology and changing how we use it and where we do business.

The Changing Landscapetravel
Technology has drastically changed how and where we do business since I started working at IMA in 2006. That first year I traveled extensively around China, working on our study of management accounting in the country. At that time, my technological options were limited, and it was a challenge to keep in touch with the office and my family. Now when I travel, I make sure to pack my tablet, smartphone, and laptop, which – together with my mobile hotspot – ensure I can work and stay connected at all times.

Social media is also now playing a larger role in business, bringing us closer to business partners around the globe, exposing us to new markets in various countries, and increasing customer engagement. I’ve also started tweeting this past year (follow me at @RaefLawson) and recently participated in Twitter chats regarding accounting education, which engaged audiences from around the world. It’s proving to be a great way to quickly exchange information with others.

Where We Do Business
Since I’ve joined IMA our association has transformed from being a U.S. association to a global one. We now conduct research globally, enabling us to source the best talent from around the world while providing more relevant and insightful research to our global members. Technology helps us better serve our members, and that is of paramount importance.

Advances in technology provide the opportunity for members of my team to work remotely and still be connected to home base. Cloud technology and other data-sharing programs help ensure our research team can stay in touch and work collaboratively no matter where we are.

How Business Is Conducted
Of course, technology can be both a benefit and a curse, depending on whether it is appropriately used and if appropriate limits exist. It seems like we’re all now constantly connected with our devices, and business – especially now that IMA is global – has become 24/7. Because we’re increasingly working from home or on location, it has become more difficult to shut off our work devices. This “digital office” allows us to tablet, phonecollaborate through e-mail, Skype, and other platforms to successfully complete our work in a timely manner.

The way we do research has also changed. The days of paper-based surveys are pretty much gone as the development of online survey tools has made conducting surveys much easier and more effective. The cost of distributing surveys has been slashed (or eliminated) as has the cost of getting data ready for analysis.

Looking to the Future
Going forward, it’s clear that performance expectations will rise as competition increases and technology evolves. At IMA we’re working hard to upgrade our technology in an effective manner in order to ensure that we can adequately serve our expanding, more diverse membership. This will help us not only produce more research of use to our members but also more value to them throughout the organization.

Where do you think technology will be in the next 5-10 years? How has social media changed the way you do business at your company?

Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson

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