Study: HR Leaders Identify Finding, Hiring Quality Employees as Top Challenge

The third annual Paychex Pulse of HR Survey shows that talent and technology are the two primary factors impacting HR leaders this year.

The report says that a tight labor market, fast-changing legislation and an increasing reliance on HR technology all play a role in how HR is evolving.

“The strategic contributions HR leaders make are bolstered by innovative technology solutions that not only dramatically reduce time spent on administrative tasks but can also provide valuable insights on their workforce and the business overall,” says Leah Machado, Paychex senior director of HR services. “With more time, information and resources, HR professionals are better positioned to successfully address the evolving, complex HR needs of both employees and the organization.”

Some highlights:

  • For the first time, attracting talent surpassed regulatory compliance as the top HR concern. More than two-thirds of HR leaders say it’s difficult to find and hire quality candidates, up from 59% last year.
  • 87% of survey respondents agree HR technology has strengthened their contribution to corporate success, up from 75% in 2018. For the first time, 100% of respondents said that they rely on HR analytics in some capacity.

Sikich Report: Half of Manufacturers Experienced Data Breaches In Past Year

Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich (FY18 net revenue of $168.7 million), in a recent survey, finds that half of manufacturing companies have fallen victim to at least one data breach during the past 12 months, according to the firm’s 2019 Manufacturing and Distribution Report.

Of the 50% of respondents who said their companies experienced data breaches, 11% said they had experienced “major” breaches. Still, executives believe their companies can thwart attacks. A majority (54%) said they are “extremely” or “very” confident in the ability of their companies to prevent or minimize the impact of data breaches.

“Cybercriminals have moved on from focusing primarily on organizations rich in sensitive personal data, such as financial or health care institutions,” says Brad Lutgen, PIC of the firm’s cybersecurity practice. “Instead, they target any organization with IT weaknesses and attempt to turn a profit through ransomware and other cyberextortion techniques. In response to this growing threat, manufacturing executives must make security a core corporate priority and push forward the implementation of preventative measures in their organizations.”

The report found that many manufacturers – especially those with revenues under $500 million – neglect key cybersecurity preparedness efforts. Overall, less than 40% of these smaller companies perform cyber audits (38%), penetration testing (33%), security assessments of vendors (32%) and phishing exercises on employees (31%).

Other findings:  

  • Though a majority of respondents have automated in some way production processes and machining, assembly and packaging, only about a third said they have “extensively” automated these areas.
  • Manufacturers are bullish, but still preparing, for an economic downturn. Only 27% of the executives surveyed believe it is “extremely” or “very likely” that the U.S. economy will enter a recession in the next 12 months. However, that number rises to 49% among companies with $500 million or more in annual revenues. Overall, 63% of respondents are preparing for the possibility of a recession.
  • Manufacturers are mixed on how the expansion of e-commerce has benefited or hurt their operations. Nearly half (49%) of the companies surveyed said they use e-commerce to sell their products. Of these, 39% said sales from e-commerce have exceeded their expectations, while 37% said sales have been disappointing.
  • When asked to identify obstacles to innovation, 53% of respondents cited “finding and retaining the talent needed” as “extremely” or “very” challenging.

Click here to download Sikich’s 2019 Manufacturing and Distribution Report.

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BKD Red Team Launched to Help Fight Cyberattacks

BKD Cyber has announced the addition of a new service named BKD Red Team to its service line. BKD Red Team is a digital attack simulation that can emulate the actions a hacker might take during a cyberattack. The simulation results are then used in training sessions with the client’s IT security department.

“We look forward to working with organizations to help them better prepare for these attacks by anticipating what a hacker would do once inside their network as well as train their security team,” says Cindy Boyle, partner and team leader with BKD Cyber. BKD Cyber is a service of Springfield, Mo.-based BKD (FY18 net revenue of $594.6 million).

BKD Cyber professionals can perform this simulated digital attack under controlled conditions using the same actions that actual cybercriminals could use to access and harvest data from an organization. This exercise can help assess how a real-world breach would affect an organization. BKD Red Team also can train security teams to more quickly respond to a cyber incident.

In addition to showing a network’s vulnerabilities, BKD Red Team can identify the actual data that was compromised, the firm says. The team can provide recommendations on how to better safeguard sensitive data and avoid costly breaches. According to the Ponemon Institute “2018 Cost of a Data Breach study,” the total cost of a data breach averaged $3.86 million, up almost $250,000 from the previous year. In addition, it takes organizations an average of 197 days to realize they’ve been breached.

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BMF Launches Cyber Technology Group

Akron, Ohio-based Bober Markey Fedorovich (BMF) (FY18 net revenue of $19.1 million) has announced a new practice area, BMF Cyber Technology Group, which will offer high-level IT, network and cybersecurity solutions.

The firm, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, says the new practice group is part of the evolution of its core financial and advisory service offerings. Now, the firm says, “we are better equipped to serve our clients with the skills, tools and resources they need to run an effective IT department while protecting their most critical component – their data.”

Chad Voller

Managing director of CTG, Chad Voller, notes that most IT professionals begin their careers on the help desk, and over time progress to become system administrators and then as department leaders, they’re asked to manage processes, people and budgets.

“They’re asked to do these things with no background or training in executive management,” he says. “No wonder so many IT executives feel overwhelmed, and so many business leaders are looking for more impact from their IT teams. Technology is a competitive lever for any organization, but no tech team can provide that level of insight to senior management when they’re stuck running through service tickets.”

Voller has experience in all three critical elements for improving IT performance and security: operational, management and executive coaching support, the firm says. Working in corporate IT positions and managing a global technology department for a publicly traded corporation, he supported three national and two international locations. He has earned several certifications and consults and speaks on IT operations management, disaster recovery, project and change management.

Voller joined the firm as its director of IT three years ago. He’ll manage both roles while growing his three-person team.

“I honestly think that with just a little sprinkling of success that this could be a really fantastic revenue opportunity for the firm going forward,” Voller told Crain’s Cleveland Business. “It is so relevant for every business out there that we could see this turning into one of the leading books of business within the landscape of the firm.”

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Managed IT Security Services Firm Joins EisnerAmper

New York-based EisnerAmper LLP (FY19 net revenue of $380.6 million) announced that managed IT security services firm CSAM Marketing Inc. has joined the firm. CSAM’s leadership team and IT engineers have become part of EisnerAmper’s Process, Risk & Technology Solutions (PRTS).

Founded in 1984 and with locations across the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, CSAM provides:

  • Managed IT Services – Network/server management, disaster recovery
  • Security Services – Monitoring network, endpoint security, virtual CISO
  • IT Solutions – Strategic IT planning, cloud system design and migration

“Prior to this, we specialized in identifying, measuring and monitoring a client’s cybersecurity risks. Now, with the technology and talent of CSAM, we can also provide real-time remediation services,” says Jerry Ravi, EisnerAmper partner and PRTS practice leader. “This exciting, strategic move is at the core of our philosophy of bringing technology-enabled services and solutions to clients of all niches, sizes and growth stages.”

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AICPA to Oversee New Internet Domain for CPAs

The AICPA is in the process of being awarded the .cpa domain and is currently in a contract execution phase with the Internet’s global governing body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The AICPA’s role in administering .cpa will provide a defined global domain for CPAs worldwide to connect with their clients with increased trust, security and verification.

“By overseeing the .cpa domain in collaboration with other global CPA organizations, the AICPA can help promote CPAs’ visibility and protect their professional standing online,” says Barry Melancon, the president and CEO of the AICPA. “We also want the public to have confidence that someone using a .cpa domain address for email or a website is affiliated with the CPA profession.”

The new domain extension will be available to CPAs and their firms and will signal a clear connection to the profession. For example, Firm Name, LLC, could have a website address of www.firmname.cpa. Jane Smith, an employee at that firm, could have an email address of jsmith@firmname.cpa.

“Today, there’s a lack of authentication and growing mistrust of online information,” says Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, the AICPA’s technology subsidiary. “This is why many leading companies and communities, such as Amazon, KPMG, and the banking industry are moving to restricted top-level domains. We’re looking forward to bringing this important new capability to the profession.”

More details on registering a domain name will be available later this year. For additional information and the opportunity to sign up for notifications, please visit https://domains.cpa.com

Deloitte Offering Proactive Monitoring Of Electronic Communications With Relativity Trace

New York-based Deloitte (FY17 net revenue of $18.6 billion) is offering a new service to help clients detect violations of e-communication policies through its alliance with Relativity.

Relativity Trace captures data from more than 40 sources including email, audio, chat and other file types, Deloitte says. The solution offers alerts on high-risk activities like fraud or collusion that necessitate closer analysis.

“Whether your industry is highly regulated or not, having a solution in place to identify and alert legal, compliance, risk management and other teams when possible noncompliant behavior occurs can mean the difference between containment and crisis,” says Chris May, a rick and financial advisory principal with Deloitte Transaction and Business Analytics LLP.

Jordan Domash of Relativity Trace says, “Increasingly, our clients are asking for ways to identify high-risk behavior occurring in their businesses. To us, a proactive automated approach with integrated machine learning is key to culling massive amounts of data and reducing false-positives. That said, for such automation to work well, it needs to be customized and monitored by seasoned investigative professionals.”

Deloitte, part of the RelativityOne Certified Partner program, has built on top of Relativity’s platform to include dashboards, AI-enabled contract review, custom analytics, audio transcription, FOIA and other records disclosure management, and other automated timesavers such as translation, redaction and redaction propagation.

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Wipfli Partners With Paladion For AI-Driven Managed Detection And Response Services

Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million) has announced that it has partnered with Paladion, a global provider of cybersecurity and managed detection and response services.

“Cyber threats continue to increase at an extremely fast pace with no signs of slowing down,” says Jeff Olejnik, PIC of Wipfli’s cybersecurity practice. “Today, it takes U.S. companies an average of 200 days to detect a data breach. Through our partnership with Paladion, we can reduce the response time to minutes.”

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) is unlike traditional managed security service providers (MSSPs) who provide alerts from security monitoring. MDR provides more extensive services than threat detection. It is an advanced managed security service that provides threat intelligence, threat hunting, security monitoring, incident analysis and incident response. MDR uses AI and machine learning to investigate threats, contain them and orchestrate responses.

“We developed our AI-driven MDR program to give businesses simplified access to next-generation cybersecurity, and our partnership with Wipfli will bring leading edge AI-driven threat detection and response to Wipfli’s clients,” says Rohit Kumar, who leads strategic partnerships at Paladion.

Wipfli chose Paladion’s MDR for end-to-end threat management that combines AI and automation, the firm says.

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Armanino Launches AI Lab

An IPA Best of the Best firm, San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP (FY17 net revenue of $242.7 million) has launched the Armanino AI Lab, designed to help businesses interested in using AI technologies.

“More than 75% of companies believe AI is fundamental to their future success, but the majority of those aren’t taking advantage of AI technology today and don’t know how to,” says Tom Mescall, PIC of Armanino’s consulting practice. “Armanino’s AI Lab will serve as a one-stop shop that enables its members to harness the opportunities that AI offers without being left behind by their competitors.”

The announcement came May 20 at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Executive Roundtable, hosted by Armanino at its offices for C-level executives to see a demonstration of AI and discuss practical ways to apply it.

The three components of AI are predictive analytics, robotic process automation and virtual assistants. Members of the Armanino AI Lab can access peer-to-peer meetings, exclusive product and vendor reviews, Armanino’s data scientists and AI developers and consultants. Members can also learn about AI best practices and execute on AI proof of concepts.

The firm says that in a survey of the Roundtable event attendees, more than 75% ranked predictive analytics as most important to their organizations. Additionally, 83% believe their data infrastructure will need further improvement to achieve the best results. Meanwhile, 60% of event attendees have not started their first initiative.

Prior to launching its AI Lab, Armanino researched the most common business cases for using AI – from finance, supply chain, customer experience and talent management to compliance and privacy.

“As we continue to build out the Armanino AI Lab, we are proud to align ourselves with many of the world’s technology and software leaders in the AI space,” says John Horner, PIC of Armanino’s data and analytics practice. “This makes it easy for clients to access our knowledge and relationships, thereby decreasing their investment time and increasing their benefits of embracing AI technology.”

Armanino has already accepted several existing clients into the Armanino AI Lab and will continue to add members. To submit your membership application, visit: learn.armaninollp.com/ailab.

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IRS Provides Filing Extension For Returns Affected By Wolters Kluwer Outage

Wolters Kluwer has announced that the IRS has approved a filing extension for certain May 15 federal returns, which are now due on May 22.

Deadlines are extended for returns that were affected by the outage of Wolters Kluwer’s Electronic Filing System during the week of May 6 – Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax; Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income; and Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return.

The IRS is providing simple, specific instructions that return preparers must follow for any of these returns that are filed after May 15, but no later than May 22, 2019.

Wolters Kluwer says it is working with state tax agencies to obtain similar relief. Updates will be provided to return preparers as new information becomes available. Tax practitioners with questions can call Wolters Kluwer at 800.930.1753. Live chat is available at https://taxna.wolterskluwer.com/support.