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    March 2017
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    Gerald Trites

    I'm an Information Technology Writer, Educator and Researcher. I write research studies and books dealing with information technology and accounting, teach online courses and take on some consulting assignments. My prime assignment at present is Project Director for XBRL Canada, an organization dedicated to developing the use of XBRL for accounting and reporting purposes. This work is through the offices of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants in Toronto. XBRL is fully explained at the XBRL International Website. There is more about XBRL Canada at its website.
    I retired in 2006 as a Professor of Accounting and Information Systems from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Previously, I retired from the firm of KPMG in 1996, after a twenty-three year career there, seventeen years as a partner. In KPMG, I worked in the accounting and assurance areas for several years, primarily as a quality control and research resource, but then evolved into Information Systems Consulting. I'm now working towards my third retirement, but have no plans to rush it.
    Before joining KPMG, I worked with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants as a Research Manager and as Assistant Director of Education. I've come full circle in a sense, because most of my work now is with the CICA.


    Gerald Trites's Recent Articles

    Big Data Defined

    With all the discussion about big data, there is a persistent problem. There is not general agreement on a definition of big data. For some, it means data available on the internet generally; for others, it’s data coming from social media, or the internet of things. It sometimes refers to unstructured data and for others […]

    Posted: March 28th, 2016 under General.


    How Bitcoin Technology Can Change the World of Finance

    Bitcoin, that infamous digital currency, has captured the imagination of many people, but has failed to penetrate mainstream finance, even though it is recognized as a currency and can be exchanged for conventional currency. Probably it is most well known for its use by criminals and fraudsters. The technology that underlies Bitcoin, on the other […]

    Posted: February 14th, 2016 under General.


    Data Analytics Education – More is Needed

    There has been a clear message from business over recent years that there is a big shortage of people skilled in analysis of big data, as well as data analytics generally. Six figure jobs are going unfilled because of this shortage. At a basic level, the need, according to a project manager in IBM, is […]

    Posted: December 18th, 2015 under General.


    Smartphones – Expect Innovation in Decision Support

    A recent study released by Pew Research shows the ownership of smartphones in the US has continued to increase over all other forms of personal electronic device. “Today, 68% of U.S. adults have a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011.” Also, “tablet computer ownership has edged up to 45% among adults”, as compared to 3% […]

    Posted: December 11th, 2015 under General.


    The End of Cash

    It’s quite clear that people don’t need traditional money in the form of bills and coins any more. There are too many alternatives to cash, such as debit cards, payment tokens, e-cards, and cell phones. Many of us rarely carry cash, and if we do it lasts for a long time – mostly for paying […]

    Posted: August 24th, 2015 under General.


    Will That be Credit Card, Debit Card or Cell Phone?

    The recent launch of Apple Pay, featuring the use of smart phones for paying at the cash register rather than credit or debit cards., has drawn attention to this method of payment. It’s not the first such system. Google launched their Google Wallet two years ago, Paypal has had a mobile payment system in place […]

    Posted: November 7th, 2014 under General.


    Internet of Things – A New Security and Privacy Threat

    The growing trend towards smart appliances and other things is raising concerns about security and privacy. We are seeing many things being connected to the internet, including cars, home security systems, refrigerators, ovens, wristwatches, clothing, furnaces – the list goes on. Many of these items connect through the internet using the central modem located in […]

    Posted: September 24th, 2014 under General.


    Social Investor Relations

    Social media has been having a tremendous impact on business, as new ways of using it have emerged. One of the first major business applications was the socialization of Customer Relationship Management systems. Social CRM enables a business to maintain current information about customers and use it to develop products that best meet their needs. […]

    Posted: July 29th, 2014 under General.


    Good Personal Password Management

    Recent events such as Heartbleed and the eBay episode have motivated many users to change their passwords, at least for their most important applications. This has been happening more frequently and it raises the question of effective password management. Eventually we’ll come up with a better way of authenticating users, since the current password system […]

    Posted: May 28th, 2014 under General.


    Mobile Payments on the Move

     The use of mobile units like smartphones and tablets has skyrocketed in recent years. So has interest in their use for making payments at the cash register. They already can be used for making payments over the internet, and they are. But the idea of making payments with them directly at a store by interacting […]

    Posted: May 2nd, 2014 under General.


    Twitter – The Speculation of the Day

    Twitter goes public today on the NYSE under the name TWTR. Much hype and commentary has preceded this momentous event. Twitter is one of the hottest social media apps on the planet and so the IPO has attracted tremendous attention. The initial price is set for $26 per share, which sets the overall value of […]

    Posted: November 7th, 2013 under General.


    Tablets vs Laptops

    Tablets, smartphones and other highly mobile devices have become a standard part of the technological landscape. And such devices have been creating a good deal of change and hype. The concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has been causing organizations around the world to develop and adopt new strategies that work for them in […]

    Posted: October 30th, 2013 under General.


    Speaking in Tweets

    A recent study by two computer scientists from the University of the Phllippines finds that the length of tweets on twitter declined markedly from 2009 to 2012. From eight words to five. Of course, tweets are limited to 140 characters and there are still many tweets that are close to that length as well, but […]

    Posted: October 15th, 2013 under General.


    Electronic Publishing – Here and Now

    Reading in electronic form has been a growing trend for the past few years. With some people, it has raised fears about the potential effect on reading, on authorship, and on the quality of the written word. Print based reading is destined for the realm of collectibles; a curiosity. Reference Books in print were the […]

    Posted: September 25th, 2013 under General.


    The Time is Right for Standardized Data

    Early this summer, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, in cooperation with Certified General Accountants of Canada, submitted a brief to the Finance Minister as part of the pre budget consultations that always predate the formulation of a new budget for the national government. Together, the two organizations represent most of the professional accountants in the […]

    Posted: September 11th, 2013 under General.


    Mobile Payments on the Move

    Although the idea of mobile payments has been tossed around for several years, the actuality has been rather choppy. There have been several applications, but no system has taken the market by storm. Payment systems are generally classified as either in-store payments or online payments. The most popular payment system for in-store payments is the […]

    Posted: August 26th, 2013 under General.


    The Internet of Things – Opportunity and Risk

    The idea of having home appliances hooked into the internet has been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Having a refrigerator that tells you when you are out of milk was a favourite example. Or a coffee maker that can be started while on the commute home. But while there have been […]

    Posted: August 14th, 2013 under General.


    Online Grocery Shopping – Big Change on the Way

    Buying groceries is still in the pre-digital age for most consumers. True, they can use websites to check for specials and do some food related activities, like gathering recipes, but basically most people still go to the store, walk through it placing their items in a shopping cart and then check out and take their […]

    Posted: August 1st, 2013 under General.


    Why Technology is Driving Even More Radical Change in Society

    Technology is good for the economy but not necessarily for people. Whether and why this is true is a subject of debate. It is a long established fact, even a truism, that advances in technology change the nature of jobs in the economy, replacing some kinds of jobs and introducing new ones. Of that, there […]

    Posted: July 1st, 2013 under General.


    Unlocking the Value of Big Data

    Data is big  these days – and getting bigger. Here are a few random facts. 10,000 payment transactions are processed every second around the world. 340 million tweets and 247 million emails are sent every day. 30 billion items of information are added to Facebook per month. Most of the world’s data was created in […]

    Posted: June 6th, 2013 under General.


    Collaborative Shopping is Catching a Wave

    There are lots of situations where you want to go shopping with a friend or family. You might be buying something new to you where you value the advice of a trusted friend who knows more about a product, such as a new computer. Or you might want to buy something for a friend’s special […]

    Posted: May 29th, 2013 under General.


    Data Monetization

    The full realization of value from data has become a standard of modern business. Since the big data revolution began, the pressure to realize maximum value from the data available for business purposes has grown to the point that data is now monetized with increasing frequency. One credible source says that 30% of business will […]

    Posted: May 15th, 2013 under General.


    Why Canadians Are Not Leaders in E-Commerce

    In a report of the Boston Consulting Group in 2012, it was reported that, in the area of e-commerce, Canada is a player but not a leader. And yet we are among the largest users of e-commerce in the world. This apparent paradox bears further examination. In early 2013, ePath Consulting did just that by […]

    Posted: April 30th, 2013 under General.


    Identity Management

    We know that identity theft is a major and growing problem. According to the results of a survey carried out at McMaster University, 6.5% of Canadian adults, almost 1.7 million people, were the victim of some kind of identity fraud last year. In the study, identity fraud was defined in a wide ranging way, such […]

    Posted: April 11th, 2013 under General.


    Localization of Websites

    We’ve all run into it at least once or twice. We try to order something on a foreign (let’s say a US site – not so very foreign) website and pay for it. When we fill in the information that is required to process our credit card, such as billing address, we move through the […]

    Posted: March 25th, 2013 under General.


    Hints of Change in SEC Reporting Requirements?

    Yesterday, Mary Jo White, President Obama’s nominee to head the SEC, waltzed through her grilling by the Senate Banking Committee. What happens in the SEC is of considerable importance to Canada and Canadian capital markets, not least because we have over 350 sizable companies listed on US exchanges that must file reports with the SEC. […]

    Posted: March 13th, 2013 under General.


    Mobile Information for Investors

    Corporate Investor Relations groups have emphasized good corporate IR websites for several years. Having a strong IR website enables a company to tell its story to investors and prospective investors in a way that suits its own style and strategies. The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants offers prizes each year to companies that have the […]

    Posted: March 7th, 2013 under General.


    The Impact of Technology on Reading

    No, technology has not led to the demise of reading, as many have predicted. In fact it has increased the importance of both reading and writing. People with poor grammatical and general writing skills stand out for all the world to see on Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, and even on Twitter. Technology, however, is having a […]

    Posted: February 28th, 2013 under General.


    Mobile Payments for Businesses

    Recent trends in the availability of systems designed to allow accepting credit cards on a mobile basis are worth considering for many businesses. The most popular types of systems are those that add a card reader to a smartphone or iPad, which then communicates with the website of the provider to record and  process the […]

    Posted: February 19th, 2013 under General.


    Blackberry on the Rise ?

    The recent release of Blackberry Z10 has the mobile watching world on the edge of its seats. Blackberry, formerly Research In Motion (RIM), has been an object of admiration , wonder, awe, disappointment, derision, and admiration (for pulling off a credible comeback) in recent years. In short, it has been like many other highly successful […]

    Posted: February 6th, 2013 under General.


    Deloitte Technology Predictions for 2013

    The state of PCs, whether they are going the way of the dinosaur, is one of the areas covered in Deloitte’s latest survey of major trends in Technology, Media and Telecommunications. The report, available on the Deloitte website at, covers all three areas because they consider the three areas are so interrelated that they […]

    Posted: January 23rd, 2013 under General.


    The Benefits and Perils of Online Investing

    Now that RRSP season has arrived, many people are considering making their contribution for 2012 before the deadline at the end of February. There are many options in terms of how to do it, including opening an RRSP account at a bank, insurance company or other financial institution, employing an investment advisor, or opening an […]

    Posted: January 19th, 2013 under General.


    Big Data, Ethics and Privacy

    As the world careens towards more collection and analysis of data about – well, almost everything – there is growing evidence that the major issue with big data is that of ethics. This is something that a lot of companies have difficulty grasping and therefore requires action by the people through legislation. It also requires […]

    Posted: January 7th, 2013 under General.



    A new phenomenon, driven by technology, specifically smartphones, is causing retailers to change their marketing and selling strategies. It’s being called Showrooming, and relates to the practice of a growing number of shoppers to go to stores, and compare the prices to online prices and buy at cheaper prices online rather than in the store. […]

    Posted: December 27th, 2012 under General.


    Social Media and the News

    The recent tragedy in Connecticut reignited a question that has been in the minds of many people in recent years. That is the idea of where do we get our news. What is the role of social media? What is the fate of newspapers? These are vital and difficult questions. They go to the heart […]

    Posted: December 20th, 2012 under General.


    Internet Addiction Disorder

    We’ve all seen it. A couple is out at a nice restaurant for dinner. They are sitting across from each other buried in their smart phones, not interacting with each other. Or perhaps exchanging the occasional unfocused remark. And then there are the young people with their family or friends who are completely disengaged from […]

    Posted: December 14th, 2012 under General.


    Social Business

    There is a revolution going on in business systems which is one of the biggest changes of recent years. While people are generally aware of it, many would be surprised at its scope and scale, not to mention its implications. In part, Social business involves the growing use of social media, like Facebook, Twitter and […]

    Posted: December 6th, 2012 under General.


    Replacements for Smart Phones and Tablets

    As if the remind us not to get complacent about the state of technology – what’s popular and what’s not – there has been a spate of announcements lately of new technologies that some think could replace computer devices as we know them. For the past two years, the big buzz has been that smartphones […]

    Posted: November 29th, 2012 under General.


    Big Data and How It Affects Most People

    The idea of big data and big data analytics is relatively new and has been taking the IT world by storm over the past year or two. Big data generally refers to the vast amounts of structured and unstructured data that corporations and governments have in their system but is too large to be assembled […]

    Posted: November 22nd, 2012 under General.


    MOOCs, an Approach to the High Cost of Post-Secondary Education

    Last week I wrote of how technology could be used to reduce and in some cases eliminate the cost of a university education. This is being done today, and gaining a lot of attention and a certain amount of traction. The focus is on a technology called MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses). They are being […]

    Posted: November 14th, 2012 under General.


    The High Cost of Post-Secondary Education

    University costs a lot of money. And a growing number of students, graduates and parents are questioning whether it is delivering value for money. A university education in Canada today costs in the area of $14,500 per year, according to CanLearn. That translates into $58,000 for a four year degree. In the more expensive colleges […]

    Posted: November 8th, 2012 under General.


    Better Security is Needed for Small Businesses

    Auditors have been telling small business owners for years that they should implement good security procedures for their IT activities. These include such features as regular changing of passwords. Also they have stressed there be a proper division of duties between the custody and recording of transactions and assets. And a good business recover plan […]

    Posted: October 30th, 2012 under General.


    How Structured Data Can Save Canadians a Lot of Money

    On Wednesday, October 17th, Daniel Kelly, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) spoke to the annual conference of XBRL Canada in Ottawa. He spoke about the effect that government regulations are having on small business in Canada. This is important, since small business contributes very substantially to economic activity and, according to […]

    Posted: October 19th, 2012 under General.


    The Perils of Giving out Your Private Information

    If a stranger walked up to you on the street and asked you for your name, address and phone number, would you give it out? Of course not. Different people would react differently to such a situation. Some might tell the guy to get lost and others would turn the other way and ignore him […]

    Posted: October 10th, 2012 under General.


    BYOD – The New Norm

    At one time, companies refused to allow employees to use their own computers for business purposes. They argued that personal computers were not safe; that they operated outside the web of security painstakingly put up for the company and that they would endanger corporate information and transmit viruses to the corporate systems. It’s interesting to […]

    Posted: October 4th, 2012 under General.


    Mobile Commerce is Here to Stay

    The world of retail is changing again, and this change is a lasting one. It involves the use of mobile devices to conduct business transactions –smart phones, tablets and the like. Mobile commerce (or M-Commerce for short) involves all the functions of ordinary retail transactions. To understand what M-Commerce means, just take a few moments […]

    Posted: September 23rd, 2012 under General.


    Crowdfunding – A Useful Tool for Business Startups

    The internet has been proven to be a great way to reach out to people. The idea of crowdfunding is a good example of that. The way it works is that – a person gets an idea, floats the idea on the internet asking people to make a donation to help make the idea a […]

    Posted: September 19th, 2012 under General.


    The Importance of Structured Data

    The annual conference of XBRL US is winding up today in Austin, Texas. Many of the attendees at this conference are representatives of the public companies who must report their financial statements in XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) format to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). XBRL is a form of structured data, which means […]

    Posted: September 12th, 2012 under Internet and Technology.


    Data Quality – It’s Important to All of Us

    We have an abundance of data these days. In particular, there is so much data available on the internet that we have trouble determining which we should use and which is the best fit for our particular purposes. Some of the information – one is tempted to say a lot – is lacking in quality. […]

    Posted: September 5th, 2012 under General.


    Why the Cloud Will Change Our Lives

    We are on the cusp of yet another internet based revolution. This time, it’s the cloud – that term we see used so often to denote the ability to process and store data over the internet. There are several versions of cloud computing, including Software as a Service (SAAS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) […]

    Posted: August 29th, 2012 under Internet and Technology.


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