October 20, 2014

Accountant studies financial impact of faulty cloud storage

Betsy Pierce is versed in a variety of topics. Genetics. Accounting. Chronic lung disease. Battlefield 4.

The assistant professor of accounting’s interest in the latter subject, a futuristic war-time video game, doesn’t involve her picking up an Xbox controller, though. Instead, Pierce over the last year has studied the flawed development plan that nearly derailed the video game’s worldwide release in October.

Recently, Pierce and a colleague — Dawna Drum from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire — submitted a case study paper based on the incident to The Accounting Information Systems Educator, an annual publication dedicated to accounting-based education. The paper challenges students to consider their own business strategy when developing and releasing a videogame. Specifically, students are both asked how they would choose an Internet cloud storage client and to consider an exit strategy should that client prove unreliable. 

Battlefield 4’s developer, Electronic Arts, experienced such a scenario in the fall when its cloud storage company, Nirvanix, filed for bankruptcy and gave its clients two weeks to remove data from its Internet storage space. The company was able to secure a 2-week extension to the storage deadline, and that relief likely prevented Battlefield 4 developers from losing critical files that could have delayed the game’s multimillion dollar-netting release, Pierce said. 

One of Pierce’s many research interests is the growing trend toward firms using cloud storage.

 “I’m an old-time accountant, and I lived through the whole automation process, when (companies) had to convince people to use desktop computers,” said Pierce, a practicing accountant until 2000.

She said now members of the American Institute of CPAs are pushing for more firms to use cloud technology.

“It’s interesting to me, and scary,” she said. 

It wasn’t so long ago when Pierce’s interests lay in a very different field. The Midland native with a Ph.D. in immunology was a postdoctoral fellow in pediatrics before arriving at SVSU last summer. She was one of a half-dozen people in the world with a focus on studying chronic lung disease in patients who underwent bone marrow transplants.

Before that, she taught courses at the college level on subjects such as genetics and accounting. The experience stuck with her through the years, and when an opportunity opened up at SVSU to educate undergraduates, she applied.

 “I love being in the classroom,” she said.

These days, she teaches Financial and Managerial Accounting and is helping revamp the Accounting Information Systems course at SVSU. She recently participated in a study abroad trip in India.

“I’m having a blast,” Pierce said of her SVSU experience.