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Café Innovation – Accountants are Second Lifers now!

If one asked what one of the oldest professions in the world was, Accounting would arguably be one ranked very high on the list. As long as there has been money to be counted there has been a need to account for it! This has been a bastion of conservative business thought. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and various international Accounting Standards have been crafted to be in line with the notion of being conservative in looking at financial, and, by extension, business information. In the post-Enron world, the burden of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and similar regulations seems to be carried predominantly by the Accounting profession; and it makes sense that this body of conservative professionals be the custodian of such a responsibility. Would it then not surprise you to know that the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the apex body of CPAs in the country, has established a Second Life presence?

It was perhaps not surprising to find IBM or Toyota with a Second Life presence, or even Princeton University. However, knowing as we do that the Accounting profession is characterized by conservatism, it was a bit of a surprise to find the AICPA’s “CPA Island” on Second Life. According to Richard A. Johnson and Joyce M. Middleton (“Accounting for Second Life,” Journal of Accountancy, June 2008), CPA Island “presents a creative medium to appeal to a new generation” that has “grown up with high-speed Internet connectivity, instant messaging, and multiplayer online gaming.”  They further make the point that this goes beyond just acknowledging the different skill set of this new generation, and actually “embraces and celebrates these skills as important to the future of the accounting profession.” And, that last line is what should make us stop and take notice.

In an earlier post (Café Innovation – Business Processes and the Facebook Phenomenon), I had touched on the popularity of Facebook and had sought to generate a discussion around whether this phenomenon could be harnessed for enterprise use. That topic becomes all the more relevant in light of the fact that one of the most conservative professions on this planet has stepped out of its centuries-old comfort zone to embrace the emerging world. This is what organizations should begin to recognize; this is what their IT departments should wake up to; and, this recognition and awakening are what will determine how successfully we deploy technology in the future.

In this new world, it will be important to have a clear business process orientation (see the post from June 17: Café Innovation – The Business Process Enterprise) so that the creativity of this new generation can be properly harnessed without risking chaos, and there will need to be strong contingents of Business Process Experts (BPXers) potentially drawn from this new generation who can skillfully span the IT-Business divide. Does this mean that in this world there is no place for the current generation of team members? No, that is not the case. On the contrary, if they evolve their own skill sets, the current players will have the crucial role of helping an enterprise bridge the generational divide and ready it for future success, in the process ensuring pivotal roles for themselves.

Does your organization have a Second Life presence? Do you see a new generation of skill sets and capabilities emerging in your organization? What are some of the steps your enterprise is taking to address these emerging trends? Are you readying yourself as a BPXer?

I look forward to hearing your views. In the meantime, have a great July 4th !!!!!  

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