(Photo: Ryan Koretoff)
By Chris Casacchia, California Business Journal.
Ryan Koretoff is sounding the alarm for slow-evolving businesses caught in the doldrums of a global pandemic.
“Understand and embrace technology” — or your days are likely numbered, he says.
Koretoff is calling on ‘tech-savvy accountants’ like himself to lead the charge to help slow-adopting sectors understand the advantages of becoming more digital.
“They are among the most capable professionals to communicate the financial benefits that stem from such investments,” says Koretoff, who knows better than most.
The certified public accountant runs a boutique accounting and business management advisory firm, Financial Excel, in Southern California with operations in Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Orange County.
The coronavirus has only furthered the digital divide, Koretoff contends, as more technologically-advanced sectors, such as information technology, e-commerce and professional services, flexed their agility amid mass office shutdowns and stay-at-home orders by decentralizing their workforce and operations.
Slower moving sectors, such as health care, government and education, along with those still heavily tied to paper trail systems, like construction, agriculture and personal services, have struggled to pivot. They simply have not adopted digital processes nor have they equipped their workforce with digital tools to optimize efficiencies.
“The COVID-19 outbreak and pandemic has been a major eye-opener for a lot of businesses,” Koretoff says. “If they don’t embrace technology, they will get swallowed up. Period.”
Run an Internal Audit
For those business laggards, an internal audit of processes is in order. “Simple solutions to minimize errors or reduce transactional touches might generate quick wins and have respectively greater impacts on long-term competitive advantage.”
Koretoff has several recommendations to help companies modernize, including:
–Partnering with more advanced sectors or businesses;
–Assessing company data tracking systems and applications;
–Investing in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system;
–Evaluating internal and external communications.
“Companies should explore task delivery and modes of completion,” Koretoff says.
Will a phone call or email suffice? Or should it funnel into a task queue, with managerial confirmations, and then autonomously reroute into another queue signaling the next activity.
“These are some of the questions I would pose to any company looking to make their operations streamlined and get better continuity within their workflow.” says Koretoff, who’s pushing for more integration to optimize businesses.
That includes aligning accounting and finance personnel with programmers and application developers.
“You need to have these good synergies established between IT and accounting and finance people,” he adds — though with caution.
More technological enhancements bring more cybersecurity concerns.
“You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” he says.
If a data breach occurs outside the company’s core information system, it can be susceptible to an attack.
A New Role for Accountants
Koretoff envisions this corporate shift emanating from the traditional accounting role as non-revenue producing cost centers morph into those that can contribute to overall profitability.
Accounting and finance have traditionally analyzed and communicated company activity, far removed from customer touch points. However, when accounting and finance functions can provide insightful analytics, Koretoff argues they can support decision-making through AI-enabled recommendations and automatic risk assessments, and in the process, become a tool to drive enterprise-wide behavioral changes.
“Technology and data analytics are helping accounting and finance professionals more efficiently deliver and communicate increasingly complex information,” he says. “Business intelligence resources are equipping them with the ability to answer tough questions on the fly and help decision-makers understand causality as it relates to financial performance. It’s allowing for more efficient meetings and more informed business decisions, which in turn, helps companies become increasingly agile and responsive to economic changes.”
Today’s business applications dive deep beyond surface transactions and prior events. Moreover, they’re becoming increasingly predictive and prescriptive.
“With such advancements, businesses are now understanding how to best change their behaviors because they affect the bottom line,” says Koretoff, who’s long been intrigued by psychology, enough to earn a bachelor degree from the University of Southern California, before obtaining an MBA from Chapman University in Orange, California.
“Technology is changing the landscape for accounting and finance business functions,” he says, “allowing for more active contributions to company profitability.”
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