Five Minutes With Ryan Block of RSM

7 minute read | 14 Feb 2024

By Mark Emmons

Boomi highlights business thought leaders, the trends they see, their work, and their hot takes on pizza integrations, too. 

By Mark Emmons 

Ryan Block got his business start in custom application development. During a lengthy career with a global education company, he saw the value of technology consulting partnerships.

“We had some major initiatives over the years, like replacing critical legacy systems and implementing new digital platforms,” he said. “We relied on close partnerships with consultants to fill gaps in our technical expertise. So I had a lot of exposure to the consulting world from that side of the fence.”

Now, his view is from the other side as a director of application development and integration at RSM, where he helps organizations overcome challenges by getting the most from technology.

A Boomi platinum partner, RSM is the leading provider of assurance, tax, and consulting services to the middle market, with more than 17,000 professionals across the U.S. and Canada and a global presence in 123 countries. How Block assists clients today is shaped by his previous experience partnering with consulting firms on enterprise-level projects.

“I definitely come at this from their point of view,” he said. “I’ve been over there. I understand the things they’re thinking and how we can best serve their business needs. They should feel that my consulting team is looking out for their best interests and will make them successful, as opposed to just wanting to complete the project and move on to the next one. It’s all about their success.”

Block discussed how companies can struggle with integrating multiple systems, what knowledgeable consultants bring to the table, and how he’s always thinking about the best way to solve business problems. Here are some lightly edited portions of our conversation.

How do you explain your role to people?

Ryan Block: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve explained it to my family, and they still don’t get it. But it’s really about trying to make things simple for businesses. Our clients have so many different applications and systems. An ecommerce business has various systems for managing and ordering its products. In many cases, the systems do not natively connect together and share data. Using Boomi, we enable them to speak to one another and eliminate manual processes and inefficiencies to help our clients improve their businesses.

Tell us more about about RSM.

Ryan Block: We started as an accounting firm nearly 100 years ago, and tax and audit services remain a major part of our business. We’ve also become a leading provider of consulting services. It’s common for us to have clients for accounting or tax services who also have technology problems, maybe around ERP or CRM systems. We work in a broad spectrum of industries across consumer products, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, and non-profit, to name a few. Our employees focus on building deep industry expertise to serve our clients best. For example, I work closely with our retail clients in ecommerce who might also have a brick-and-mortar presence.

What does it mean that RSM focuses on the “middle market?”

Ryan Block: We are the leading provider of professional services to the middle market, which is very broad and includes companies that range in size from smaller startup types of operations to large, established enterprises. Many businesses in the middle market do not have a well-defined data integration strategy to support the future growth of their operations. They may not have a big IT staff or breadth of expertise required to implement and manage critical business systems.

Why are RSM and Boomi a good team?

Ryan Block: We’re focused on the best fit for our clients, and we want to implement technology they feel is easy for them to use and support. The offering Boomi brings to the table meets the full spectrum of clients that we are focused on serving. Boomi fits very well with many of our clients because it has an easy entry point and is simple to use with a lot of pre-built connectors for the common systems that our clients use, with a good price point. What’s really nice about our Boomi partnership is one of our mantras is to be easy to work with. Boomi is the same way. We’re on the same page.

What’s cool about being a technology consultant?

Ryan Block: When working for a single organization, you may have limited exposure to different technologies and processes. You don’t necessarily get the opportunity to work on a variety of new things. The beauty of consulting is being able to work with many different clients. One may be a startup company that’s very new to what they do, and you can help steer them in the right direction to grow the business. Or you work with more established organizations and help them with digital transformation. You never get bored doing the same thing because there’s always a new problem to help solve.

Do you think of yourself as solving business problems or technology problems?

Ryan Block: I would say both. You have to understand the business processes and what the customer wants to accomplish in the big picture. We’re never looking to solve only technology problems. The business problem is always at the heart of what we’re doing. Now, there may be more than one technology option to solve a business problem. That’s where we bring our knowledge and expertise to the table.

What advice would you give someone struggling to integrate systems?

Ryan Block: It’s important to look at your entire environment and think hard about the systems that need to share data. Sometimes, they might not be the right systems for you. Be open to different options that might make your life easier, especially in your industry. We’ve seen a lot of different systems, and maybe for your specific use case, you should consider other alternatives because they would play more nicely with your business and the other systems you are using.

Let’s end on a lighter note. Do you have a favorite pizza “integration?”

Ryan Block: I wouldn’t say that we eat a ton of pizza, but when we do, I like wood-fired pizza. With toppings, I stick to veggies. But I have at least one choice that may be divisive in the pizza world. I’ll throw some pineapple on there.

Up Close With Ryan Block

Role: Director of Application Development and Integration at RSM

Home: Dubuque, Iowa

Family: Married, two children

Education: MBA from the Univesity of Iowa, Bachelor’s degree in MIS and finance from Loras College

Fun Fact: He’s a sports dad, which means there are a lot of miles on the family Chevy Suburban. “Right now, my son is into travel hockey, and his team practices 90 minutes away a couple of times a week,” he said. “It feels like we’re always driving somewhere. I don’t even want to tell you how many miles we put on the car.”

Want to read more about some of the many thought leaders we’ve interviewed? Check out our aggregated Boomi Profiles page.