This morning at the CCH User Conference in Palm Desert the keynote speaker was notable first in that he is less than half the  age of a great many of the attendees -- including me.

Mike Sabbatis, CCH President and self-proclaimed 50-something year-old, spoke before Sheahan and was not only comfortable and conversational in his delivery, but absolutely spot-on in his analysis of the state of the profession and his intentions for company’s role in the profession tomorrow.

Sabbatis used audience-pleasing metaphors describing “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” and their thought processes involving photography. “Does ANYONE print every photo they take?" he asked. “Does ANYONE print and then mail photos?”  When the crown answered “NO” he used the occasion as a “teaching moment” and compared those photos with an accounting professional’s workpaper. “Does ANYONE print every workpaper they prepare?”, he challenged -- much to the delight of the more technologically advanced in the crowd.

After some final remarks, including references to the MMORPG (look it up!) game World of Warcraft and declaring “I have a Facebook page,” he introduced wunderkid Peter Sheahan.

Sheahan challenged the much older, much more conservative, and decidedly Baby Boomer crowd to begin (quickly, please) to understand that the world has changed and that the very demographics that shaped their (our) generation are now shaping a completely different one. Not better, not worse, but most assuredly different. Sheahan is a very talented speaker with a razor-sharp message -- one that CCH obviously “gets.” The ovation at the end told the full story -- this crowd LOVED Sheahan!

[Editor's note:] Here’s a personal hint -- if your employer blocks Facebook at the network level they most assuredly do NOT “get it.”   

The Progressive Accountant
Greg LaFollette, CPA.CITP, is the executive editor of The Progressive Accountant. He has been involved with public accounting for nearly 40 years and to ensure he stays completely current with the needs of the practicing accountant, he is also a senior manager of tax and technology consulting with Top 25 firm Eide Bailly LLP.
Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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