Crowe, Purdue Polytechnic Institute Announce Digital Risk Collaboration

Chicago-based Crowe (FY18 net revenue of $883.6 million) and the Department of Computer and Information Technology (CIT) at Purdue Polytechnic Institute recently established the Purdue-Crowe Digital Risk Collaboratory. The culmination of two years of work, this collaboratory will serve to develop opportunities in sponsored and government-funded research, with both sides working together on select Crowe client projects and services.

Combining the client engagement experience of Crowe with Purdue’s world-class research, faculty and students, the collaboratory will undertake joint projects for new clients, conduct federal and nonfederal research on digital risk issues and provide education. CIT faculty, staff and students will work closely with Crowe personnel to develop and test new risk management solutions for the digital age. The collaboratory is also developing executive training courses on how to manage digital risk for business executives.

“Leveraging our client leadership with Purdue’s research leadership is an outstanding value proposition,” says Steve Strammello, MP, Crowe risk consulting. “We’re investing in a future where our clients can maximize the adoption of digital-era tools and technologies while minimizing the risks associated with digital transformation. We believe this alliance will advance how organizations manage risk as they transform their businesses into the digital age.”

“The decision to collaborate is a bold and aggressive move by both sides to establish a more extensive foundation for digital and cyber risks, creating real-world application opportunities for ongoing research and projects,” says Marcus Rogers, head of CIT. “The collaboratory solidifies that exchange of ideas and the public-private partnership concept.”

Purdue’s internationally renowned strengths, including robotics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and technology-enabled learning, allow for a multidisciplinary approach to meet future challenges. Work continues on setting up a mutually beneficial location for the collaboratory.

To learn more, visit Crowe risk consulting cybersecurity.

UHY Advisors Announces Alliance with Glasswall

Chicago-based UHY Advisors Inc. (FY17 net revenue of $140.8 million) announced has announced that the firm has formed a strategic alliance with the UK-based Glasswall Solutions Limited, a technology company that has developed an industry-leading solution providing unique protection against file-based cyber threats. This alliance further augments UHY’s industry-leading risk advisory services practice.

Glasswall’s technology breaks the detection paradigm of signature-based defences. Rather than looking for ‘known bad’, Glasswall allows only ‘known good’ in business documents, using its patent-protected d-FIRST™ methodology of deep-file inspection, remediation and sanitisation. Unlike signature-based technologies, Glasswall is able to eliminate all types of document attacks and zero-day malware, providing unparalleled Advance Threat Protection allied with detailed Threat Intelligence data.

As part of the alliance, UHY will provide professional services, including interfacing with clients, managing the implementation of the technology, and acting as the point of contact for clients after installation of the product.

Glasswall’s team of professionals will conduct an initial risk assessment of an enterprise’s current security posture then develop the production design based on the client’s infrastructure and operational needs. They will work closely with UHY to outline and ultimately initiate the rollout of the updated security system.

“The Glasswall solution is unique and will greatly benefit any organization looking to improve their cybersecurity framework,” says Warren Zafrin, a leader in the risk advisory services practice at UHY. “This software delivers value to all areas of the business: security, compliance, audit, governance and risk, and will help our clients on a global scale, including both private enterprises across industries as well as government and governmental institutions.”

“We are excited to form an alliance with an innovative cybersecurity firm and offer clients state of the art comprehensive cybersecurity services,” says Michael Mahoney, CEO of UHY. “This offering will benefit clients as we advise them on how to mitigate emerging cyber threats from both a strategic and logistical perspective.”

Digital Transformation Joins List of Challenges Finance Leaders Face

Digital transformation emerged prominently in 2017 as a critical business focus, according to the Benchmarking Accounting and Finance Functions: 2018 report from Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) and global staffing firm Robert Half.

Over half of the financial executives surveyed in the United States (59%) and Canada (52%) said they will maintain their current staffing levels due to digital transformation. Seventeen percent of U.S. respondents and 22% of Canadian respondents are proactively adding to their teams over the next 12 months to address digital transformation needs.

“Digital transformation is affecting businesses in many areas, including staffing,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. “With the growing need for skilled talent in North America and the limited pool of candidates, retention is paramount. Leaders need to ensure employees are engaged, challenged and developing the skills they need to advance in the organization as the business evolves.”

The survey also identified other key trends:

  • Organizations are automating processes for functions such as invoicing, data collection, report generation, document storage and compliance. Some firms also expect to automate financial planning and forecasting through predictive reporting within the next three years.
  • Competency in data analytics shows the greatest demand. Nontechnical skills such as communication and collaboration are also coveted by employers today.
  • The use of cloud-based solutions continues to rise. Seventy-five percent of U.S. respondents and 73% of Canadian respondents are currently using or planning to deploy these services in the future.
  • More than half of the U.S. and Canadian firms surveyed still rely on manual processes for accounts reconciliation, but those percentages are declining.

“Technology continues to impact the day-to-day responsibilities of financial professionals across all levels,” says Andrej Suskavcevic, president and CEO of FEI and FERF. “However, what the report indicates is that there is a continued — and in some cases rising — need for skilled strategic thinkers and communicators to manage functions that computations cannot, as well as to interpret and apply output from tech solutions.”

Suskavcevic says, “We are seeing a growing demand for well-rounded financial executives who are able to develop and execute a broad vision that is enabled by technological advancements. How do we best take advantage of the digital age? Individuals capable of creatively answering that question will excel in today’s financial leadership roles.”

SAP Launches Leonardo Blockchain, Cloud Blockchain Platform

SAP has launched a blockchain-as-a-service platform called SAP Leonardo Blockchain, which will allow corporate customers to use blockchain technology to create networks and applications.

SAP Leonardo Blockchain will support Hyperledger Fabric and MultiChain, and will be built on top of SAP’s SAP HANA data management system, according to the official announcement.

Gil Perez, SAP’s senior VP for product and innovation and head of digital customer service initiatives, explained that SAP will be more flexible as the blockchain market evolves by not committing to any one underlying distributed ledger technology.

Twenty-seven new members were accepted by SAP last fall to its blockchain program in order to integrate the technology into the IoT, manufacturing and supply chain solutions.

Catholic Church Looking Into Blockchain Processes

A new group called Catholic Blockchain wants to put the revolutionary potential of blockchain technology to improve transparency, help the poor and streamline processes, uCatholic reported.

One of its co-founders, Brantly Millegan, explained: “We believe blockchain technology is one of the most important innovations of the last ten years, and the Catholic Church, as the world’s largest global organization, is uniquely placed to benefit from using it.”

He lists five ways the church could use blockchain:

Empowering the poor in the developing world ­– “Download a free app and you can send and receive cryptocurrency all over the world – and do it exponentially faster and cheaper than you could do it even if you had the most developed banking system.”

Fast, cheap, secure international payments – “It might still be faster and cheaper to send someone cryptocurrency and have them exchange it for their local currency in a local exchange, rather than send them government currency through the international money transfer system.”

Secure long-term storage of important information – “It’s very important to the life of the church that the church knows who has received certain sacraments like baptism, confirmation, holy matrimony and holy orders. And yes, it can be done in a secure and private way so that the information isn’t public – only accessible to the people who need it.”

Financial transparency – “Cryptocurrencies can be used in such a way that all transactions are public. If Catholics could donate to Catholic causes or funds, knowing that where the money was spent could be publicly verified, that could relieve a lot of concerns.”

Unlocking value in property and assets – “Let’s say a Catholic diocese had some non-parish property, and the bishop wanted to unlock some of the value of the property without completely selling it. Blockchain technology makes it easier to sell off just, say, 40%, and in small chunks to many investors. That way, the diocese could maintain control of the property, but get some of its value today.”

Millegan says, “Much of the church is still playing catch-up on old-news technologies like websites, smartphones and social media. We need to do a better job of taking seriously new up-and-coming technologies before we’re already behind. And we believe blockchain technology should be near the top of the list.”

Blockchain System to Secure Card Payments: Mastercard Files Patent

Mastercard has filed a patent application for blockchain software designed to enable faster, secure payment transactions, Blockchain Focus, a blockchain news outlet, reported.

The patent application states that wireless transmission of payment credentials can be “subject to intercept.” Skimming is a practice that “enable[s] a nefarious actor to pull the payment credentials from a payment instrument, even when securely located in the consumer’s wallet or purse, or to intercept the payment.”

Blockchain technology can facilitate a safe and secure method of conveying payment credentials. The patent document states that the process of encryption encodes the card’s information and records it on the blockchain, after which two keys are issued, a public and a private key. When the card is used for purchasing, it makes a request for retrieval. Then the system verifies the card information using keys to decode it.

Law Firms Turning to Tech to Innovate Client Service

The law firm Reed Smith is rewarding lawyers who innovate.

A team at Reed Smith has developed an app that allows clients to assess risk from suspected data breaches, Bloomberg’s Big Law Business reported, and attorneys can receive up to 50 hours of billable credit for participating in the initiative.

Bloomberg cites the incentive program as an example of how law firms are using tech not only to streamline routine services, but also to improve how they deliver services and remake themselves as innovators.

“This is investing in the business to improve how things work, not pro bono work for clients,” Lucy Dillon, the firm’s chief knowledge officer, told Big Law Business. “We are trying to improve the quality of our services and of our output, and technology helps us to do it more quickly and efficiently.”

The app, Breach RespondeRS, allows mid-size companies and individual clients to learn about related law notification requirements, which differ from state to state. The information can help them decide whether, and how, to notify customers about data breaches that may have occurred. The app is available on the firm website.

Here are other examples of innovation in the legal arena:

  • In March, Hogan Lovells created a partnership with an outside provider to offer clients on-demand lawyers for hire. “We are planning to expand it to the United States and continental Europe starting this fall. Clients have shown a lot of interest so we are accelerating the rollout,” says Stephen Allen, the firm’s head of legal services delivery in London.
  • Allen & Overy has a partnership with Deloitte accounting firm to support a compliance system that helps clients follow relevant laws in whatever countries are involved in a deal or project. The firm, working with an outside provider, launched Margin Xchange, an online platform to assure legal conformity for documents related to derivatives.
  • White & Case joined forces with a data services company and in January 2017 launched a free tool called the M&A Explorer, available on the law firm’s website to allow clients and the public to explore a decade’s worth of data about mergers and acquisitions.

KPMG and Google Enter an Alliance to Help Organizations Transform Digital Experiences

New York-based KPMG (FY16 gross revenue of $8.6 billion) announced an alliance with Google to help organizations transform their business and operating models with secure cloud computing, machine learning (ML), enterprise mobility and advanced analytics technologies.

As part of the collaboration, KPMG is creating a portfolio of industry solutions built on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). KPMG member firms around the globe are currently engaging with clients on solutions for financial services, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail, among other industries. These solutions, including customer service solutions, contract management, cyber security, regulatory compliance and business and process performance, will benefit from GCP’s trusted security, advanced data analytics and ML.

Two KPMG solutions available now are KPMG Intelligent Interactions for creating a differentiated customer experience, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Assessment and Compliance solutions for managing customer data and privacy.

“Organizations are seeing advanced technologies and natural language experiences as a key to transforming their businesses,” says Miriam Hernandez-Kakol, KPMG’s Global Leader for Customer & Operations and Executive Sponsor for the Google Alliance. “KPMG is creating data-driven solutions that harness Google Cloud technology, including machine learning, to help our member firm clients advance business strategies and deliver unrivaled digital experiences.”

“Our alliance with KPMG helps customers across industries benefit from the advantages of Google Cloud, including our advanced security, data analytics and machine learning capabilities, to solve real business challenges,” says Tariq Shaukat, President, Partners and Industry Platforms, Google Cloud. “We’re working alongside KPMG to develop new solutions that help enable customers to actively participate in the ideation and creation of their own solutions.”

Manufacturers Slow to Adopt IoT, Report Finds

The internet of things (IoT) can help manufacturers improve customer service, field and plant maintenance work, inventory management, and more. However, the 2018 Manufacturing Report from professional services firm Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich (FY17 net revenue of $152.1 million) found that fewer than 10% of those surveyed currently use IoT technologies. Further, 30% said they have no clear understanding of the IoT.

“Manufacturers of all sizes can benefit from the internet of things, but too many lack the necessary understanding of the benefits and fail to embrace these transformative technologies,” says Jerry Murphy, PIC of Sikich’s manufacturing and distribution practice. “As a result, many manufacturers and distributors miss out on significant operational improvements and efficiency gains across the supply chain, which can put them at a competitive disadvantage.”

Additionally, the report revealed warning signs for manufacturers when it comes to protecting their data and intellectual property. Though more than three-fourths of respondents said they had not experienced a cybersecurity incident in the last 12-18 months, only 19% of respondents say they are “very ready” to address cybersecurity risk. Sixty-three percent of respondents believe they are only “somewhat ready.”

“Cybersecurity threats will only increase as technology becomes even more integrated into manufacturing operations,” says Brad Lutgen, a partner in Sikich’s security and compliance practice. “That’s especially true given the rapid adoption of IoT devices. Manufacturers must therefore have security programs in place to address the ever-changing threats. At a minimum, a company’s program should include conducting regular risk assessments, penetration testing and vulnerability assessments to gauge its current security posture. Manufacturers should also put in place vendor management programs to vet third-party technologies to make sure that vendors adequately test for security vulnerabilities.”

A focus on organic growth and R&D

The report found that, compared to 2017, fewer manufacturers said they are “more optimistic” about the U.S. economy (66% compared to 75% in 2017) and more said they are “less optimistic” (11% compared to 5% in 2017). Still, as they eye growth, companies continue to target existing domestic markets. Manufacturers ranked organic growth in an existing domestic market as their biggest opportunity, followed by new product or service development. As they seek to develop new products and services, 60% of respondents said they use research and development tax credits, up from 52% in 2017.

But, amid a push for business growth, many manufacturers still lack long-term succession plans. Only 25% of respondents have a written plan to exit the business.

For the 2018 Manufacturing Report, Sikich surveyed more than 200 respondents from companies across industrial sectors, including metal fabrication, industrial equipment, food and beverage, OEM equipment, chemicals and petroleum, automotive, plastics and wholesale/distribution.

Access the full report, including survey results and insights from Sikich technology, accounting, human resources, investment banking and supply chain experts, here.

The Bonadio Group Names Roman CIO

John Roman Jr.

John Roman Jr.

Pittsford, N.Y.-based The Bonadio Group (FY17 net revenue of $92.1 million) has appointed John Roman Jr. as its chief information officer (CIO).

Roman will oversee all aspects of the firm’s IT services including management, operations, security and strategic planning.

“We’re looking forward to adding John’s expertise to lead the team in information technology,” says Thomas Bonadio, CEO of Bonadio Group. “He has a strong history of applying results-oriented skills to multi-site organizations. This is an ideal time for John to join us as we grow in key markets and create a tech roadmap for the future.”

Roman’s experience includes more than a decade at Nixon Peabody’s Rochester office, as well as positions at Brite Computers, NetSetGo, Xerox, Wang Laboratories and Northern Telecom.