It seemed that every session was talking about “The Cloud”. You may remember from my blog in September that basically “The Cloud” is talking about performing tasks and storing information somewhere that is accessed through the internet. The future of accounting is moving to “The Cloud”.

As we have discussed before, Software as a Services (SaaS) applications such as Xero and QuickBooks Online are examples of how most of us will be doing our accounting in the future. Some of us may use hybrid methods such as using desktop QuickBooks in a hosted environment on virtual servers that are accessed through the internet. There were several sessions at the conference discussing the various options in the area.

With Rod Drury, Chief Executive and Executive Director of Xero

One of the high points every year at the conference is when the “Awesome Application Awards” are given out. This is where companies and products are recognized. Four awards were given to SaaS applications that I am already using –, QuickBooks Online, SmartVault and Xero.

I recently became a Certified Xero Advisor and Beyond Balanced Books Inc. became a Bronze Partner with Xero. Xero was a Premier Sponsor of the conference. One of my personal highlights at the conference is that I was able to meet Rod Drury who is the Chief Executive and Executive Director of Xero. Rod welcomed me as a new Certified Xero Advisor with a big hug. He also spoke on a panel with other accounting business executives about what their visions are of what accounting will look like in the next three to five years.

With Jill Ward, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Intuit Accounting Professional Division

Intuit was a Diamond Sponsor of the conference. A special announcement was given at the conference in regards to QuickBooks Online – the first ever QuickBooks Online Certification Exam was announced to be released on October 29. I was one of the first ones to pass the QuickBooks Online Certification. I became a Certified QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor on October 30. Intuit hosted a reception at the conference and I was able to meet and talk to some of the Intuit employees. Of special note is that I was able to meet Jill Ward who is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Accounting Professional Division.

The conference also has a Solutions Expo with more than 60 exhibitors. I really enjoy this part of the conference because it gives me a chance to get one-on-one demonstrations of new products and also gives me an opportunity to speak with key employees from many vendors with products and services in the accounting world.

Many of the exhibitors were giving away promotional items. One of the most popular this year was Cloud9 Real Time’s “Find Your Mickey/Minnie Ears” promotion. Keep in mind that the conference was in Anaheim, just two blocks from Disneyland. For this promotion, you received Mickey or Minnie ears to wear with a unique number on the front and back of one of the ears. If you found your matching Mickey or Minnie with the same unique number you won a prize. I only wore my Minnie ears for about 10 minutes and my matching Mickey found me. We both ended up winning $20. Not too bad, and it was fun too!

I really enjoyed this year’s conference. I have gone to seven of the nine Annual Sleeter Group’s Conferences. So for me it is kind of like a family reunion. I enjoy seeing other attendees and exhibitors that I have gotten to know over the years. And it keeps me up-to-date with what is new with accounting technology.