'Embrace technology and the change it brings'
Becoming CEO: I was referred to Fybr, called StreetSmart at the time, when the board was looking for a consultant with background in investing in startups and technology. My background as the global managing partner of corporate development for PwC during the dot-com era, where I evaluated the strategy and business plans of hundreds of startups, made me a candidate for the role. I presented my recommendations, and the board asked me to become CEO and implement those recommendations, which included a new strategic direction taking the company from its roots as a parking technology company to a broader IoT (internet of things) solutions provider.
The IoT's impact: I think the IoT, particularly the industrial IoT, is likely to have a huge impact on almost everything we do. Having the data needed in real time to make the best business decisions possible is powerful and a source of sustainable competitive advantage. The IoT, big data, and data science will lead to significant changes in how CPA firms serve their clients. The tools available now and in the near term should enable much more predictive analysis by auditors. The ability of what we used to call "expert systems" to become truly expert will accelerate. But perhaps the biggest impact will be in consulting, as the profession is a logical place for clients to look for data analytics expertise and consulting.
Technology and change: CPAs should embrace technology and the change it brings. Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are here now. To continue to be trusted business advisers, CPAs need to be out front with these technologies. The profession is positioned to bring these tools into the mainstream as you focus with your clients on the future of their business and how long-term value is created. Data analytics will provide actionable insights in near real time. AI and machine learning will enable businesses to evolve faster, more efficiently, and more profitably while reducing business risk.
Successfully running a company: As a leader, make sure everyone understands your overall strategy and short-term tactical goals. Listen carefully to your people for feedback. Celebrate wins in the business. Set the best example you can for your teams by your personal actions. I think every company needs to have a shorthand way of communicating the big picture. Leadership then needs to connect tactical decisions and actions to the big picture such that everyone understands how tactical decisions support the overall strategy.
— As told to Lea Hart, a freelance writer based in North Carolina. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Ken Tysiac, the JofA's editorial director, at Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com.