Industry Insights

Tradition vs. Innovation: What Accounting Can Learn from the Kentucky Derby

This upcoming weekend is the Kentucky Derby, an event rooted in tradition. Big hats, Mint Juleps, and the same 1.25 mile course since 1896. The Run for the Roses is a star studded event with more than 100 years of history, a true symbol of Americana.

Although the Kentucky Derby hasn’t changed much, it’s still a sport and the players are in it to win it. The question is, how can they innovate if the game hasn’t changed? Something that many finance and accounting teams constantly ask themselves.

First, knowing that the game doesn’t change is an advantage. You know what the outcome needs to be. You know the finish line isn’t moving, so you just need to figure out how to cross it faster and ahead.

Riders found their competitive advantage in their tools and training. What they wore in 1875 is a far cry from the protective gear and wind-resistant clothing you see today. Similarly, one of your competitive advantages comes from the tools that protect the quality of your data and the speed in which you collect it.

Qualities of tools that will give you a competitive advantage:

Look for apps and tools that focus on eliminating steps, not just digitizing them. Simply making a paper process into software does not mean that it is more efficient. Tools should focus on making the process better, even if it means re-thinking the way it’s done.

Find new ways to automate processes. Any time you don’t need to waste on data entry is time you can put to use on something else. Look for tools that either eliminate data entry or speed up the process.

A mobile component will help you complete tasks on the fly. We live in a world where we are no longer tethered to our desks, and by completing a task as it happens, we can cross it off our to-do list that much faster.

Simplicity – it should be really good at what it does, not sort of good at a lot of things.

Easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of staff training. This is an important one. The easier a tools is to use, the greater the rate of acceptance and usage from your team. And the better they are at using the tool, the better your data and faster your process is.

Non-technical implementation that will get you up and running faster. You don’t want something that requires waiting for engineering or IT to set up, you should be able to get up and running on your own. This independence will help you be more agile.

Plays well with others – make sure it works well with other tools you already use.


Don’t be afraid to try a new way of doing things or a new way to approach an old process, sometimes those seconds, minutes and hours are all that stand between you and the finish line.

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