On-Demand Webinar: Risks and Opportunities in Transitioning to a Remote Workforce

March 27, 2020

Coronavirus prompted an earlier inflection point for companies to transition to a remote workforce. The speed of this change creates opportunities and risk for organizations, some of which include operational risks, ways to support and protect employees, update antiquated processes, and deploy virtual technologies they’ve invested in.

If you are looking for peace of mind regarding the near- and long-term challenges of a remote workforce, listen to this webinar addressing how to optimize your related to your employees’ well-being, data security and adapting your day-to-day operations.


Transcript

Natalie McVeigh:

Hi, everyone, we're glad to have you today. Thank you for taking your time out when there's so much going on right now. As you know this topic that we're going to talk about today is risks related to COVID-19. You're here because you've got it figured out, we're pretty sure. Just like you, we don't know what's going to come next, or how it's happening. We do know some things; we'd like to share with you today. It's really around people, technology, and process risk and not just risk, opportunities. When changes happen, there's room to grow. There's room to find ways to re-examine things you might have been doing that we're working okay.

So, we're going to start. So, I'll be talking a bit about working from home. Transition is a process. It's not a point in time. So, at the end of the day, many of you are in this process. It might be quite stressful. In fact, my guess is that it's very stressful. Part of that is we don't really understand working from home. So, there's some myths around what it does or does not do, and how we can work on that. So, a lot of people think that working from home isn't really working. As you all have experienced for the last few weeks that you've been doing this, that's not quite the case. In fact, it might feel a lot more exhausting than working from your office. There are lots of reasons for that. One is that there may be more distractions in your home right now. One of the other reasons for that is we have habits.

There are kind of three versions of ourselves. This is going to be really reductivist, but there's our intimate relationship self, there's our friend self, and there and our business self. We present them slightly differently. Now they're collapsed on each other, so some of our behaviors are changing. So, making new behaviors takes a lot of work. When we have an old habit, it sits in our procedural memory section in our brain. So, it's very automatic and it's very easy.

One of the other myths around working from home is that you don't have to get dressed. Research says that that's not exactly the case. In fact, you might not have to get dressed up like you would for every other meeting. But getting dressed, putting on an outfit that's different than your PJs is going to help you feel differently about accomplishing your work. That it's lonely. Right now, we're doing something called physical distancing. It's important to use the language physical distancing versus social distancing. Because we're not actually allowed to be in connection with people. We can be in connection with people and ideally, we should be. But when we are physically distant from someone, it might feel as though it's lonely.

Now, there are ways to impact that much greater. One of the ways to do that is by a video conference. What we crave is connection. Humans are social animals. One of the things that we're most interested in is eye-to-eye contact. Because there are mirror neurons here, near our eyes and we want to resonate. In fact, we anthropomorphize things. There are times even cars right now look like they have faces on them because we're so drawn to faces.

That people don't work when they're not being watched. That's not the case. Even when you're in the office, you're getting work done when someone's not behind your back, making sure that it's happening. That anyone can do it. Anyone can work from home. But how you work from home is profoundly different than how we work from the office, including those communication mechanisms. Even email now is quite different than it is when you're in the office, you might shoot off a really quick email to a colleague knowing you're going to catch them down the hall.

It's not necessarily easy. One of the myths is that you don't have to be in an office. Ideally, there's some place that you work, and it shouldn't be on a computer. One of the reasons it should be on the computer is our mobile phones are really interesting to us. Every time our mobile phone goes off, we get a hit of dopamine. We get a hit of dopamine because we are expecting a text, an Instagram, a Facebook message, whatever app that you have. It makes us really happy and the rewards are there. So, you want to really make you're spending time on your computer when you're working and not on your phone.

And then working from home appeals to millennials only. Almost everyone's working from home today, because of COVID-19. Now, before that, the research shows that about the average age of a work from home person is about 45 years old. So, it can be done at any age. The question is, how do we make it work for you? So, you'll have different needs around this and figuring it out, that is the most important piece.

The idea that we're better work-life balance. You've probably seen on social media, there's all these posts about how you're going to go running, and be able to work out, and so on and so forth. That's not quite the case, because everyone's home with you. The idea that you would have better work-life balance when you didn't have very good work-life balance before isn't true. Habits take time to build. They require a lot of energy and attention. We're going to talk about habit building in a little bit.

And then you have lots of free time and you'll be more creative. It is possible that you could be more creative because you have a change of scenery, but what's likely happening is that you're very distracted. We're in overwhelm right now. So, these expectations of doing amazing things because we have new surroundings and a new situation are just unrealistic. Ideally, small, quantifiable successes will be the most important part right now.

So, there's a tension sometimes between colleagues, managers, and employees as things go on right now. One of the things we're doing is we're building resilience. We're building individual and group resilience right now. How we build resilience is that we test the system. So, our systems are being tested, not just our technological systems, but our interaction. During this timeframe, we're looking for consistency, communication, and competence in work. Those are the three things that are really important. They're important even before virtual working, but now it's even more important.

One of the ways we can do this just by watching our language. Language is really important between each other, trying to be neutral, trying to meet in the middle. So, some of the things that managers can do is hold accountability, really show what they're expecting, and trust their employees. Trust is there. You have organizations that were functioning before today, but a way to maintain it would be helpful.

Really initiate and set those expectations very clearly. Research shows that 90% of our expectations are uncommunicated. But we have a lot more context when we're with one another than when we're separated. Create generous assumptions. If someone's not getting back to you right away, there's a likely a reason. So, one of the things that we encourage managers to do is find some areas of overlap during the day. It is unreasonable to expect that we're going to all work the same hours. Some of us may get up early. Some of us may work late when the children are napping or sleeping. So, find the times in which the teams can collaborate together, usefully and via video as much as possible.

Create encouragement and acknowledgement. Appreciation and gratitude are really big right now. I really enjoy the word appreciation in English. It has two meanings. One is showing gratitude, but the other is increasing in value. So, the more that we can appreciate people concretely during this time. One it increases some really good bonding hormones, but two it's going to allow us to build the value. We really need that right now.

And then information but not overload. Right now, your inboxes are going nuts. There's so much information, we don't know what to do with it. Most of it's negative. Our brain remembers negative things four to seven times more likely. So, we need five positive interactions to reduce any one negative interaction. So, it would be great for you, as managers, to be that bright spot. Let's share some positive things. The answer right now is we don't know. We encourage you to ask questions, because 6% of time in conversation is spent in questions, but 60% of ensuing conversations result from that.

Have fun, have a lot of fun together. Even though this isn't the most easy time right now, when we spend time enjoy, it actually allows us to deal with ambiguity better. So, when we're laughing, and we're smiling, and we're coming together and finding some of those benefits and bright spots, we're going to handle ambiguity and stress a lot better. And then your colleagues are looking for affiliation and support. Neurologically speaking, our desire to belong outweighs our desire for safety. That's one of the other concerns right now with physical distancing, is at some point in time, we're going to be over fatigued about worrying. It hasn't hit us yet. We might want to engage because that desire is so strong. So, really finding ways to engage that also allows people to be safe is going to be important.

Measurements and metrics, consistent follow up, structure and flexibility. Why they go together is structure helps people control what's within their control. But that flexibility allows people to not feel like they're failing. Really finding ways to engage, where people can take ownership of small projects. That humor and questions goes both ways. You want to have some conversation volleys back and forth.

So, this is really important rituals or anchors for safety for self-soothing. So, you want to create new working habits. I don't know what those are for you. You've probably read a bunch of articles. We'll send a one pager out for some that we've seen, but more important than what I say or anyone else has told you it's really a process that works for you. So, as you're testing things out, test them for a couple days, and then see if it's working for you. It takes about 66 to 99 days to create a habit, not 21. So, a lot of this is going to be tough, so just really push through as much as you can. Find a way to open and close the day. That's the most important piece.

Create boundaries. This is something I was going to spend a lot more time talking about. But when we use our phones, we do so automatically, I mentioned that earlier. We get a lot of reward from that. But one of the things that University of Buffalo study showed is that phishing risk is more increased by people who are more used to being on social media, and more used to texting when you're on your phones.

And then over communicate. A lot of things that happen in the workplace, you get from body language, you hear from the ambient noises around you. So, really share a lot more than you originally would. When you start having these virtual meetings, what we do when we have meeting behaviors, we want to give people time back. I don't know if you've ever said that, but I want to give you five minutes of time back. Where you're going to want to create some unstructured time on these videos, just like you would around coffee or the water cooler.

So, if you have an hour meeting use that whole hour, even if it's just a chat, and then reward yourself. It's just tough, people are exhausted. I hear all the time that people are going to bed early. It's because there are new ways of being. It's taking all of our energy in our mind and our body physiologically to cope with what's going on. So, it's a time to go back to things that you feel good about. It's a time to go to favorites. If you have a guilty pleasure, spend time there while you're also creating these habits that allow you to be productive.

One of the things you've all heard about this. We're in volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguity. This existed way before Coronavirus did right now. But one of the things we encourage is really doing mind-body exercises, breathing techniques, mindfulness meditation. Here's a list of some of the research that says why it's really helpful. Now, all of these are a practice. They don't happen overnight. The more you practice them, the better. But at the end of the day, what you'll get is a pause between stimulus and response. Right now, we need a pause between stimulus and response. So, this is a way to do that.

One of the other quick benefits of mindfulness and meditation, you won't get your immune system increase right away. That's for long term practice, but you can build to that now. But you will be able to notice some habits that you're doing. For instance, when you're feeling out of balance... Or if you're touching your face, everyone says don't touch your face right now, but now all you want to do is touch your face because you've been told not to. Mindfulness and meditation can impact that right away. Over the long term, you can increase longevity and so on and so forth. So, Rahul, I will hand it over to you. So, you can talk about some of the cyber risks.

Rahul Mahna:

Thank you so much, Natalie. I think you just made it okay for me to eat an extra bowl of ice cream tonight to have that COVID-19 get packed on as well. So, I feel good about that. Good afternoon everyone. By the way, background and introduction, my name is Rahul Mahna. I'm the Director of Cyber Security Practices in our Advisory Group PRTS. Through this practice, I'm allowed to see a lot of our clients. See some of the pros and cons and some of the challenges that they've been having. So, I want to take a few minutes this afternoon, show you some of the risks that we are seeing because of the work from home strategy that's happening and been forced upon many organizations. Make it very simple for you to understand.

So, with that, I bucketed most of the concepts into three different areas. I'll start with the first one, which is computers. So, we see a lot of people have forced the work home with some of their company computers and some without their company computers. This has posed big challenges to how do you manage your risk by having this. If you have your company computer inherently, you probably have most of the security principles that your firm has pushed and been using. But if you've been asking employees to work from their home computers, that's where we get a little bit scared as to how do we manage that risk. So, I wanted to spend a few minutes to talk about those.

The first thing is the operating system. So, when you have an operating system on the home computer, you really want to ask the employees to make sure they've patched and they've updated and they've upgraded, because a lot of the risks that will come about are from older computer systems that have not been updated. So, if we can give that up to speed, that adds one level of security that can help us.

Another thing is the endpoint security. Although there's a lot of free antivirus software's out there, we really believe that if you asked for one of the paid ones and as a firm if you can afford to pay for that, it will give you a lot more benefits because they don't just include antivirus. They can include different items, anti-malware, anti-ransomware. Some even have anti-phishing that Natalie was speaking to. That small investment can go really long way to protect that computer system and hopefully, your business systems that they are interacting with.

Finally, the password protection software. Right off the bat, if you can deploy multi-factor authentication to any of your business applications, you'll get a huge bump in your risk profile. But most importantly, those passwords. We all know there's probably three or four passwords that many of us use over and over again through the many sites that we use. So, that's a big risk, especially as you're working at home. There's great tools out there. Some of them are free, some of them are very nominal and cost. Some of the names are like Dashlane, LastPass. They do a really good job of being able to encrypt some of your passwords, making them much more difficult, and making it much easier for those home users to have a much better security profile on that computer.

The next area that I wanted to talk about is the connectivity. We've kind of been forced into using our home connections. Nobody really tested those home connections out. Do they have enough bandwidth? Are they secure? Will they allow the business to operate in a secure fashion that's comfortable? So, we really, really suggest that you have a VPN client that's loaded on those computers, whether it's a home computer or a business computer, and have that secure connection. What that simply does is it just allows all of the traffic that's coming for your business to your business offices, and hopefully. Going out through the secure mechanisms that you have in place in your offices today.

Finally, a term that Natalie used also is communication. We're seeing a huge spike right now in the new types of frauds that are occurring. You're going to see massive new phishing attacks coming out with all that people think is free money coming to their doorsteps. They want access to small business loans. Those systems aren't in place yet but everyone's watching on the news, so are those hackers.

It's really important to take a moment to realize hackers are not nefarious individuals sitting in their basement in dark rooms. They're in full class-A office spaces going to work every morning from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. They have a systematic approach the way we all run our businesses; they have a systematic approach of how they run their businesses. Their job is to find gaps in society. Right now, with COVID-19, there's a huge gap and they're going to try to penetrate through that gap.

So, I think it's really important right now to communicate to those employees at home. If they see something that's questionable, call the IT department in your office. Make that communication and that window very open and transparent. Also, don't let them feel pressured about anything. A tactic that hackers often use is they try to put a level of pressure in emails that you must put in your username, you must update this right away. If there's any pressure situation, it's almost always wrong.

Finally, if they have a question, and it's even something regarding their home use, tell them to call that banking institution or call that credit card. Don't just put in information for no reason whatsoever, because these phishing attacks are going to get really smart as I see them happening already. It's important to kind of keep educating them and trying to let them know that it's okay to talk to somebody when they have such a question.

So, with that, I wanted to talk about some myths that are often found at a high level and talk through some of those. So, the first one that is always a question that I get is that "We're such a small company, nobody will hack us. Nobody will want to bother with us." I think, it's kind of ironic now because almost instantly over the last two weeks, everybody's working from home and essentially, everyone is a small company now, if you may, working from their own office.

So, I think the hacking has nothing to do with your small company if you're not-for-profit. If you're a big company, it has to do with where there's a penetration point. You want to try to block that as much as you can. So, that CFO that might have been in a class-A office space is now working in their home. They're essentially a small company that that hackers are still going to find, and they're still going to try to find ways to penetrate.

The second is that I often hear is, "Oh, I have an anti-virus software. That's all I'm really going to need; everything is going to be covered." Well, that's definitely not all that you need. The free ones that people often use and think they can get away with are the same free ones the hackers use. They find ways to get through those because it doesn't cost them anything to do that. So, you really need to find a better solution. We call it endpoint security. So, you're trying to protect that endpoint holistically. Some of the things I mentioned earlier, ransomware, anti-phishing, those are all needed in this ecosystem of a multi-layer security approach and how you can protect yourself.

The next concept is WiFi. I often hear that "Oh, I went to a WiFi, had to put my password in, so that's secure. Whether that's Starbucks or it's at my friend's house or my family's house." That's really not true whatsoever. It's really depends how that WiFi was set up, how secure its setup. Again, I go back to wherever you're using WiFi, just log into your VPN, and you have a much higher sense of security that is put in place by using that because your traffic again, is being tunneled securely to your business office. Through your business security systems, it's going out.

Another thing that a lot of our corporations have thought over the time is that security training is enough. We do it once a year just like we do our HR training, and we're done. The problem with internet security right now is that it's changing very rapidly. So, just like I mentioned earlier, with the new fraud and phishing attacks that we're seeing, and we're thinking about. You have to increase your training to educate your employees on how to manage those new attacks, how do you manage those new paradigms. It's really important. Especially employees at home, we encourage you to increase your training to them. It costs very little, but the magnitude of risks that it can mitigate is huge for that.

Another misconception I often hear is that if a computer is hacked, we're going to find out right away. The reality is from our experience and the benchmarks we see in the firm, often it's three to six months, you don't know that hackers been on there and they just silently listen. Again, they're smart people that go to work. What they do is they try to find repeatable processes that that user is doing. When they feel like they've understood that user, then they go in and mimic that user and do their hacking attack. So, it's really important. Again, if there's something that looks unusual, you got to train your users to get back to the IT department. Training is really important. Being vigilant, being secure in what you're doing is really paradigm in this new world that we live in.

In summary to this, and I hope I've kept this at a high level and keeping it simple. I want to say, the most important thing right now is not just technology, but really is we're in an unprecedented time. It's so important to take care of your families right now. Take care of your co-workers, be there for your community. We'll all get through this together. I'm confident we will with all of us sharing our resources. One thing our entire team would like to do is we know a lot of the security is very complicated. I made this very simple right now and just little key beacons that you can think about or remember or share. But if you're feeling overwhelmed in any way with the technology, our team wants to help.

As you get your final email from this webinar in attending and we thank you for that. You'll see links to some of the myths that I mentioned. There's a few more that are in a takeaway sheet. Also, we have a proprietary tool that we often use for our businesses to measure their risk and manage their risk. We're going to give that away free now to the community. We'll work with you, we'll help you see your risk, we'll identify it. Let us take some of that heavy lift off you as you're working through this right now. So, with that, I'd like to pass the baton over to my good friend and our team leader, Jerry Ravi, as he can continue the conversation.

Jerry Ravi:

Thank you Rahul. Thank you, Natalie, and thank you everyone. I will say togetherness, being thankful. You see something behind me, my wife helped me with this, but I would love for everybody just to have a big smile on their face right now. So, just do me a favor, just like I'm doing now like Rahul and Natalie are doing. Just put a smile on your face, because it will get better. Only if we do this together and that's what we're trying to do. In essence, I'm very thankful to have a family, friends and, colleagues that I have. Even clients, thank you for joining today.

I've been with EisnerAmper for 16 years. I'm going on 16, and it's the proudest moment. I feel like I can get a little choked up about it, because this is when it all really comes together. We're all acting like a smaller company, whether we're big or small. I totally agree with that. We have to stay agile together. We have to be able to stay vigilant together. We've been dealing with a lot but let's be proud of what we have. We've come a long way in just a couple of weeks. I want to touch on a few things that I think are really, really important that we've heard, and a few of our client conversations as well, as even internally at the firm.

Again, I'm proud because I think we were able to get ahead of this. A lot of the different operational type issues that we're having stem around, actually not being able to get to wherever we want to go physically, right? The stay at home concept and the inability to actually access those physical checks to write check, it's causing us a little bit of heartburn. These are all things that we're seeing, the difficulty going to the banks and being able to deposit checks. Obviously, we'll talk a little bit about cash and how we manage through that. The lack of invoicing and purchasing, being able to pay our vendors, keeping our vendors happy, because let's face it, we all do this together, right? Even with our vendors, they support you as a team and as a company.

Even from a cybersecurity standpoint, you want to make sure you keep your vendors in check to make sure they're okay, first and foremost. And then secondly, what can we do, and this is what we have going on. I'll talk a little bit about that as well. Your procedures for processing is totally changing. I mean, we are completely different right now and it's forcing us to change. Yeah, it's uncomfortable but I always say to my team, let's try to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. It's okay. That allows for change.

I know from a neuroscience standpoint, I asked Natalie to kind of chime in on that, change management and changing culture is very difficult. We could have some breakdowns here and there. By the way, that's okay. Let's face it. I mean, we're going to learn on the fly a little bit, but we're also going to see some breakdowns. Let's learn about them quickly though. Because right now, we're at a point in time where we can optimize all of our resources here and now.

I kind of break it up into the three buckets, people, process and technology. Because we've now created a system where we're mobilizing our people in a different way. By the way, I think everybody's doing a fantastic job. Now if we were doing this 5, even 10 years ago, it would be a lot more difficult, right? We do have less paper now. We still have paper, but we do have less. We're more digital, we can actually interact with each other. It's amazing what we've done with just the technology we have. I'm already seeing a lot of improvements in processes, just in the first few days, with companies looking to make sure that they could still process payments, process received, et cetera. Those are probably the two biggest areas.

Again, I'll go through what you can do now, kind of some immediate steps to help improve that. On the technology side, I'm going to focus a little bit on that because I think right now, it's the best time to think digitally. We all are digital. It's kind of interesting how even my family members, and my kids who are 10 and 12 years old are now giving me some advice on what they're doing. I mean, the younger generation clearly are using technology in different ways. We may use them, but it's just being a little creative with those virtual happy hours, or virtual get togethers, virtual dinners. We had a virtual trivia session the other night with some friends and family, it was a lot of fun, along with even our team members. That's actually why I did it because our team has spun that up. It was a lot of fun. So, have some fun with it, while we're going through it, even with the uncertainty.

So, some immediate opportunities, I won't go through each one in detail, but I've put them in a couple of different buckets. Clearly, you have to accelerate some of the benefits here. I mean, this is all about maintaining, managing cash flow as well, that brings a lot of uncertainty to many companies. I mean, you see now the Bill that's hopefully going to get passed today that will help certainly the smaller businesses and a number of others. But in essence, there's disruption in your processes and operational practices. So, try to maximize that cash position, your banking operations in terms.

A couple key things here is look, to go to ACH. Communicate with everybody that you're doing business with, your clients, your customers, your donors. How they can get to you, how they can get funds to you, whatever it may be. I see some not-for-profits that are struggling here where they can't get to their offices and pick up their checks that donors are giving them, so they can operate. You can find different ways very quickly to do that by just looking at your bank and different concepts. So, wire transfers are very easy ACH, some lockbox capabilities if you don't have them. Maintain and preserve that cash, look to increase that working capital. I know in some cases; loans are going to be offered out to smaller businesses as well as others to help that working capital the next few months. That's certainly going to be key.

If you have to create a manual physical process, if it's necessary there's ways to do that. You can slowly move some people in to the office one at a time. Use your resources. Again, your resources are still key. There's a lot of people out there that want to help. So, don't think so much about segregation of duties at the moment. What I would do is think about sending somebody in picking it up, scanning it, digitizing it, processing it as quickly as you can. We've seen a number of our clients go down that path and it's been working if you have to go down that path.

Also, examine your transactions. Negotiate potentially with your vendor's payment terms. Everybody's doing that at this point. Look, when it comes to vendors and even our clients, we're working together. As we move forward, and we're helping each other. It goes back to that togetherness theme.

Closely monitor and improve those receivables processes. I've highlighted in this; you'll see a couple areas where we focus on digital. Because one of the things that I've noticed is that we have a lot of digital capabilities, but a lot of companies are not using those digital capabilities. Now that we're in, I think, a digital world, literally out of the gate, we were forced into it in some ways, but I think that's actually a good thing. We're coming through it with flying colors. So, I would say let's look at trying to enhance that. Enhance your policies by bringing in payments digitally, electronically.

Also, make sure that you're looking at trends with your customers. I mean, we talked about communication. Communicate regularly with your customers, your clients, your donors. Try to figure out what they may be able to do to bring cash in the door, and maybe they need some payment changes. Maybe they need a little more time, whatever it may be, but regular communication is key. Even with disbursements, this is probably one of the easiest areas that you could digitize. We're seeing a number of digital platforms being spun up in literally 10 to 15 minutes. As quickly as you learn how to use WebEx, Zoom, whatever app you're using to bring together video conferencing and video chat. It's that easy to do it with disbursement we're saying, so think about that.

Well, confirm that you're also satisfying your obligations. This is again about communication. Try to talk to your constituents, your vendors to make sure they know that they're going to be getting a check at some point in time. They'll now understand your cash position, so that way you're satisfying your obligation. But again, lots of different ways you could do it with, switching wires, ACHs, letting our team members know now that our clients are actually doing that. Meaning they're putting together communication that gets sent out to their client base, to say, "We're now going to process payments to you in this." In some ways, they're spinning up us in digital platforms, I'll go through some of those as well.

Checking discounts and examining those transactions. I know, it's probably hard to say that we can have time to do that right now. But if you have some folks that have some resources that are sitting on the bench that need to help in another way, this is a great way to do that. Look to make sure that you're actually getting those things applied. Again, I focused on implementing technology at the bottom because it seems as though we're now in a different place, where we can move the pendulum where we need to.

Just some tools to help streamline your receivables and payables that we're seeing. I mean, you see some, tools here and apps that are probably familiar to you. Interestingly enough, when you see things like Venmo and Zelle, you don't necessarily think of a business transaction. But in essence, if you had to receive funds, you can do that. There are ways to use it as a business. In fact, even Zelle is used by many of the banks. I'm sure, 90% of the banks that you're using are probably included in that. So, the capabilities that you see along the left-hand side here are really key. We're seeing some of these, applications like Bill.com, we've implemented that for clients and literally, that takes 15 minutes.

Once you set up the ACH, the banking information, you put some of your invoice information in there. By the way, it can integrate with your general ledger very easily as well. So, if there's a way to be able to do that from a disbursement standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. Because then, you're not so reliant on the physical part, writing the check, sending it out, or having inefficiencies there, because that just creates more headaches and heartaches. You don't want to have to do that right now. There's a way you can do it fairly quickly. So, these are just a number of different things you can go through.

And then automation is obviously key. Some short term, some longer term. And then here's another app that you could spin up very quickly, Expensify. We've seen clients use that. Literally sign up, and within minutes, they could start processing payments. Whether it be their expenses for their employees, checks that need to go out to different vendors, all key there. And then UiPath and some others are just some ways to think about, robotics.

I'll go sort of into where we're going from here and some of this may be more of a longer-term play. On this next slide, this is one big tech takeaways that I'd like you to go away with. So, this is now a big time for us to really adapt, right? So, we need to think about how we're going to move forward. Companies that are thinking more digitally are going to prosper during these times and there's ways to do that. This is not about a big bang of looking at your earpiece system or trying to spend a lot of money and investment on that. This is actually more smaller chunks and less investment.

Again, think about the things that you can spin up very quickly. Some of you are probably using Venmo and Zelle personally, why wouldn't you be able to do that? This is all about the fact that the people and the pace of change now became digital, overnight. Guess what?

Before it was scaled to smaller groups within your organization, potentially, there are smaller groups that were thinking digitally but the whole company wasn't. Now with was a cultural shift that we were trying to force with digital transformation. So, that's what's happening now the conversations are going from "It's a good idea to digitally transform," to "How quickly can we get there? I have to get there really fast." Now you have an opportunity, where the whole company is now using video conferencing, different technology tools to interact. Now's a good time to adapt, try to stay agile, and think digital as we're moving through these times.

At this point, I think we're going to put it out to Q & A. We want to leave a lot of time for this. Because I know many people are going to have questions for any one of us. So, happy to go through it. Before we even go to Q & A, Natalie, can you comment on sort of the change control or change management aspect of how you see it?

Rahul Mahna:

Sure. Yeah. So, there's three different types of change that are happening right now. It's all one part of change. It's physical, mental, and emotional. So, it's our affective, our cognitive, and our being. So, really paying attention to all three. So, what Rahul and Jerry spoke about, they're impacting us in different ways and different stimulus.

So, one of the things I would say as you're trying to make change is awareness is really helpful. Again, much of our behaviors are habitual. So, being intentional about thinking about them, and then being single-focused. There's some research by Glenn Wilson that talks about how we lose 10 points of our IQ as emails are going off during the day, as we're not paying attention to things. Daniel Kahneman has also done some research that talks about how we're actually present in the activities we're doing, we're understanding them, absorbing them. So, if nothing else, pay attention to your own cues, what you need, and how this is or isn't working for you. So, we're happy to answer some questions.

Moderator:

Yeah, we have received some questions. Thank you, everyone. The first question we received here, if we work through the cloud and push through to staff computer, is the software as important?

Jerry Ravi:

I could start, Rahul and I could just take this one here. So, what I understand that the question is, if we're pushing things to the cloud, how important is the software? That's been the key here. The interesting part is I've been mining and looking at a lot of different companies, like ServiceNow and Salesforce.com who have been digital for quite a while and we're at the forefront of cloud computing. In essence, that's actually helping us in a big way. Your applications will still make a difference on what software you're using within the cloud. It depends on what you need to do, and how you want to use it.

So, for instance, those of us that are using... You can go to webinar like this, or WebEx, and other applications. I mean, in essence, you're already in the cloud with using that app. You may be able to also push a lot of your applications today in the cloud very quickly. We've seen that happen along the way. So, you're going to find that a number of different vendors, software vendors, probably already have it. If they do, I would encourage you to think about that, because it allows you to spend less time, let's call it monitoring and maintaining that system.

I think cloud computing is going to have another, I would call another pendulum within this milestone of everybody now being digital and remote. Now more important for that, though, whether you're at a hosted provider or not. I think pushing some of your applications into cloud is probably a good idea. But clearly, you have to do that with investment invite and ROI.

Rahul Mahna:

Sorry, just real quick to add to that, a lot of the cloud services people subscribe to, they think that inherently there's a lot of security built into it. So, I have a client who has Google services and they use that for their company. They thought that "Why do I need any kind of security? Google should just handle it." The reality is they don't. They have some basic infrastructure in place, but they inherently do not have a full security system in place.

So, in the fine print of Microsoft Office 365, which people don't read, but I do. It says that they recommend you actually have a third-party backup service because they don't ensure that the documents you put up there will actually be there. So, even though you might have a trust that "It's Microsoft, what could go wrong?" They're actually telling you that you should be backing up somewhere else. So, you really have to kind of think about it.

Moderator:

Okay, and what is your view of using GoToMyPC versus using VPN?

Rahul Mahna:

I can take some of that. So, I think, it's just a preference and what you're using it for it. GoToMyPC, inherently, I would understand it is that you're going through the cloud, and you're connecting to your computer in your office, and you're going to use your computer in your office. So, there could be some reasons that you want to do that versus a VPN, which is tunneling your traffic. So, if the application is only in your office, and you cannot put it on a remote computer, then you're kind of forced into that. If you have a VPN and you have the application on your computer, but it would only work if you connect to your office, then you need the VPN. So, there might be different usages and why you want one versus the other, but both make me happy because you're doing something secure in both instances.

Moderator:

Okay, and do you see an opportunity that business can leverage AI and process automation?

Jerry Ravi:

Yeah, I could take that though. In essence, we're seeing a lot of movement in that area. So, basically, what's happening is even with robotics process automation, there are some tools that you can spin up that allow you to analyze data in a much more efficient way without having to use a manual effort or an individual. In essence, it's less about so I think AI is really augmented intelligence versus just artificial. So, the human and the system working together. Guess what? That's exactly what we're doing now with technology. It's, again, here and now.

So, AI is allowing us to think about the receipts and the disbursements process. So, a lot of different applications there. Some of the tools that I mentioned already have AI embedded within them. Again, augmented not so much artificial, where the machine is just working on its own, there needs to be human involvement. In essence, you're the one analyzing it. So, it's the curve of you're just spending less time on production of what you're doing. So, crunch that down as far as you can using the technology and do more with the analytics.

So, I'd rather have the time be spent more on analysis of your receipts and disbursements right now and where you're going with the forecast given the times that we're in versus having to try to do that manually. So, there are a number of tools that that are being spun up that can help you with that. So, think about the ones that I had mentioned, but also there are others. I mean, there are many that are out there. I put one tool on the list called HighRadius. HighRadius actually has AI capabilities, where it's analyzing really your throughput and your forecast from a cash flow standpoint. It's comparing that automatically to previous months, years, however much data you can actually enable the system to analyze for you or at least produce. And then in essence, you can make a decision based on that.

So, whatever you're thinking in terms of working capital that could actually help you make a decision there. So, some of these tools already have it. Your ERP systems may start having some of those capabilities. I know, those of us that are using sort of the bigger systems in terms of SAP and Oracle. They have some capabilities. In other ways, there are systems that are just attached to it like UiPath. Although, it's RPA or robotic, you can actually create a bot within minutes to do certain things.

So, for instance, when you're thinking about donning letters from a just received standpoint, some of those systems that I mentioned within that slide have that, automatically being done for you. It's not being sent by an individual, that's more of a robotics play. So, I would rather you think about automation first, and then you can get to the so-called AI. But a lot of the tools are out there and that can help you do that.

Moderator:

Thank you, Jerry. Another question here any guidance for how to manage mental health and workload into physical time?

Natalie McVeigh:

Yeah, so it's really about taking care of yourself first. We're in overload. We are in a time that has anxiety right now. So, we have a lot of cortisol in our system. So, there are a couple things. One is look for the positives. There's a lot of benefits research around that, but you also want to speak the positives. Our brain doesn't know the difference between fact and fiction. So, I want to say all the positive things. Now I'm not going to make a Fantasyland, but I want to know them, I want to name them, so they become memory.

And then the other piece is that parts that are challenging. One, you want to acknowledge what's challenging, you don't want to push it down. It gives it more power but separate it from yourself. So, not saying "I am lonely, but I'm experiencing loneliness." See that, understand that, where I'm experiencing sadness or emotion have information, like anger teaches us about boundaries, motivation, and direction. So, what's the information in that more negative emotion? How do I get the information out of it? What do I do with it? How do I move from it? And writing out the negative.

So, if you're actually having a negative experience, if you journal about it, studies show that you're able to move through it and it increases resilience but speak to the positive. BD very good about those boundaries. It's okay to say, "I can't right now." You've all heard the analogy of putting on your mask before putting on someone else's in the airplane. We're just at the tip of this. We don't know how long it's going to go. So, you're not any use to your company, your family members, others, if you're not really taking care of yourself. Our contact information is down here. That's actually our emails and our mobiles. So, we're happy to talk you through a lot of this.

Moderator:

How expensive are these digital tools?

Jerry Ravi:

They could start from $10 per user per month and go up from there. I mean, they're not very expensive at all. The ones that I put up, specifically, they're ones that you can actually implement very, very quickly. Again, Bill.com and most of them are going to be per user per month. In these times what's happening is, and no different than what we're trying to do with our first look tool, being offered to you for free as a quick assessment. Some of these other vendors, including Salesforce, which is just another platform, are offering subscriptions at discounts, in some cases 90 days free. And then you determine where you go from there, but for the most part, they're not thousands and thousands of dollars.

In essence, if there's a bigger play in terms of configuration, that's a little different. You may need to spend some time on that but as far as the software is concerned, doesn't cost that much at all. We need to start taking this down the path because I think we shy away from digital before because we thought of, "I can't spend that much money." What I want you to realize is that the world of personal and business are now being put together in some way. So, it's a reason why we put Venmo and Zelle on there and different things that people are using.

So, I'll give you another, for instance, my kids are using this app called Houseparty. I don't know how many people have heard of it. I've heard of it before, never used it. So, Houseparty is an app that is interesting. It's literally a video conferencing app. It's no different than what we're doing right now except it has less features. But it has some things like you could play games with the individuals that are on. You see their face, it's basically a FaceTime app. It's widely used by teenagers and the younger generation. It's interesting because we don't know about it, we don't use it in the business, and why not? So, we're using things personally that the business is not seeing. So, but I think now, we can take a step forward and say, "Well, can we do that?" That's why I think you're going to see a big shift.

Think about what you're paying for some of those apps today. Whether you go to the App Store on Apple or anywhere else, some of them are going to be free, some of them are going to pay per user, or you're going to pay a monthly subscription. That's the way this is. That's the way I'd like you to view this kind of endeavor. It's not to think that you're going to spend $50,000 on a new tool. These tools are out there. We're not embracing them because before we weren't thinking about them, but now we are because they're going to make our lives easier. Now that cash is sitting on the table and being impacted, it's more of a more of a reason to do it.

So, I would encourage you to reach out. We can take you through some of the ones that I mentioned. I'm happy to do it. We've even, demo-ed Bill.comm to a number of people, even this week with our virtual business service group. So, please reach out. We'll be happy to take you through the discussion or give you some of our time.

Moderator:

What have you seen for clients who are worried about their revenue sensors for business? So especially those clients that are relying on in-person sales and conferences.

Jerry Ravi:

So, when it comes to physical, just brick and mortar mainly, what we're seeing is they're starting to move all of that to a virtual environment just like we're doing right now. So, think about... I don't know if everybody has seen this yet, but a number of the conferences, even one software conference that I go to and attend every year in September has now been moved to virtual. That's September, so it's months away. They've already started to move that into a virtual environment because they don't want to put it out there to be there in person just yet. Now that's a software company. Well, maybe a little bit easier to do.

But in essence, again, going back to thinking digital. How are we trying to interact with that group that we're selling to? Is there something that we can do today to interact and transact with them to keep the business moving? Because I'd imagine that you have a lot of value to give and you're in business to provide that value. We now have to think about a different way of providing that value. So, if you can't be there in person, is there a way to do it virtually? Is there a way to create some sort of an online store, if you will? Those things you can actually spin up fairly quickly as well.

So, again, I think we need to think about the technology that's out there to allow us to interact with our customers and our clients. We're doing the same thing. We're interacting with our clients as you can imagine just like this. It's becoming somewhat of the new normal in this environment today.

Will we continue to do it this way? I imagine that we probably will see some of this trickle in when we can be remote. So, think about when you have conference calls with your co-workers now and your clients or customers, those conference calls are probably going to be more virtual now. I love the fact that I can be face-to-face with my team more. I'm embracing that positive aspect of it. I've learned a lot along the way now. Can we do that in that environment? In this environment if you have to, if you have more of a physical presence well as you're interacting and transacting with your customers.

Moderator:

Thank you, Jerry. Another question here, very specific. My business is operation of small shopping malls. How can you help retail stores if the buyers are staying home?

Rahul Mahna:

I can add a little bit to this. So, we have some clients that are retail right now and they had to shut their retail down. They were pretty concerned what's going to happen to their businesses. Moving forward, what they did was they put a huge emphasis on online and to Jerry's point about some cheaper, pretty inexpensive ways to create online shopping carts, online presences.

They we're ready and they're up to about 70% of their actual run rate being satisfied through online and shipping. So, I think I've also seen Salesforce is helping a lot of smaller organizations like restaurants and non-profits that need to do a transition. They're even building the apps for free to the earlier question about non-profits having access to a lot of tools right now that are available.

So if I was owning and if I had the abilities and I wanted to keep those retail clients going, perhaps I would invest in a way to create an online shopping experience for those folks, maybe added as part of the rent in some ways if you can, and give them a vehicle to deliver unsatisfied goods and online.

Moderator:

Thank you, Rahul. I have another question here with everyone working from home, how do you recommend on the short-term retainage of files, invoices, checks, et cetera?

Jerry Ravi:

So, to retain some of that, a lot of the information, I would say, can be scanned in. We're finding that even in being physical to going and picking up a check, for instance, at an office and then scanning them. We're seeing that in a lot of ways. But where do you put that scan? Where do you put that digital copy? So, we're seeing portals being spun up. Again, those are subscription-based services. Many of them are secure and we do that to look at the security to Rahul's point. There's ways to put it up on your own cloud if you have that.

So, I would say try to digitize them as much as possible. Scanning has been a technology that's been used quite a bit and I know a lot of scanners have been purchased at Amazon. So, Amazon's biggest purchases in the last week and a half have been monitors, scanners, and printers. So, for all the reasons we were just talking about in terms of people having to print out checks, if that's the way they wanted to do it, they can't do it digitally.

But again, what do they do with that information when it's done, they're scanning it. They're putting it up on a portal, so they can access it. Ultimately, you're using that to transact or even using it for tax purposes, et cetera. So, that's a real easy way to do it. If you don't have it, there's many providers out there that can help you, ShareFile SharePoint, and many others.

MODERATOR:

Okay, the time here is up. Thank you so much. Everyone seems to have found this very informative and we appreciate everyone's time.

About Jerry Ravi

Jerry Ravi is a Partner and Practice Leader specializing in Process, Risk, and Technology Solutions (PRTS). His focus is Enterprise Risk Management ERM and internal audit and compliance. He assists in designing enterprise risk management programs ERM which include deploying risk-based internal audit plans to enhance governance processes and monitor on-going compliance.

About Natalie M. McVeigh

Natalie McVeigh is a Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence Group within the Private Business Services Practice and has more than 10 years of experience as a consultant and coach.

About Rahul Mahna

Rahul Mahna is the Managing Director of Managed Security Services within EisnerAmper’s Process, Risk and Technology Solutions (PRTS), with extensive experience in information technology and cybersecurity solutions to our clients.

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