“I have an employee who won’t be coming back to the office for the next month because his dog has gotten so used to his working at home. He has to set up a gradual-separation plan,” said L., a manager at an Israeli startup, describing her efforts to get her staff to resume working at the office. “I’m willing to bet that he’s going to quit within three months, tops,” she added.
The employee in question served in an elite army tech unit and lives in central Tel Aviv, which makes him a desirable employee for high-tech companies. L. said she is sure that the employee in question is already getting ready to change jobs.
“It’s a pity that Karl Marx can’t see how the world we live in has been revolutionized. Companies are scared of their employees – I’m very curious to see what will happen. It’s just like it is with workers on unpaid leave, just a little less obvious – people have gotten used to not working,” L. says about employees who have spent the better part of the coronavirus year working from home.
Many of them have grown quite comfortable with remote work. If they were reluctant at the outset of the pandemic a year ago, by now they have come to appreciate the flexibility it affords. If they are willing to return to the office, they don’t want to do it full time.
Employers have other ideas in mind. In the United States, Google is accelerating its plans to bring employees back into the office and informed staff that starting September 1 anyone who wants to spend more than 14 days a year working remotely must get special permission.
The man with the dog isn’t the only staffer L. has to deal with now that the company is calling workers back to the office. “I have an employee that used to commute five days a week. Now, she’s threatening to quit because we’re asking her to work just two days a week in the office,” L. said.
“It’s crazy. We’ve gotten to the point that workers aren’t willing to fight traffic to come to work. I just hope people will calm down a little.”
A survey by CoFaceBDI for TheMarker found that among Israeli human resources managers, 45% say they intend employees to come back to the workplace full-time. Another 23% say they will allow staff to work two or three days a week at home and another 10% one day. The rest say they plan to introduce flexible policies or haven’t yet decided.
Tehila Yanai, co-CEO of CofaceBDI, laughed when she recalled that in previous surveys the company found that managers regarded themselves as generous when they allowed workers to work one day a week at home. Surveys in years past had shown that almost no companies allowed remote work,
“But now, because of the coronavirus, it’s become almost commonplace. Companies are seeing the benefit, such as being able to save money on office rental,” she said.
Beggars and choosers
“Until two years ago, employees would beg for mercy from their bosses for the right to work at home. If they got it, they would express amazement about how generous their boss was. Now, it’s become run of the mill. It’s not a special request, it’s a minimum requirement. The kind that if they don’t get it, they can be expected to quit,” said Yanai.
Hila Mukevisuis, vice president of human resources at the Israeli food maker Strauss, said that even job candidates were asking about flexible work conditions.
“I just hired someone who lives in the south for our office in Petah Tikva,” Mukevisuis said. “She’ll start by working three days at home and the rest of the time at the office – that’s what enabled her to take a job with us. Before she simply wouldn’t have applied for the job because she would have been required to commute five days a week from the south to the center of the country.”
Mukevisuis has no complaints, “From my perspective, it’s great, because it enables me to choose from a wider range of candidates.”
Strauss employs 15,000 people worldwide, of whom 5,500 are in Israel. Among the 5,500 Israelis, some 1,200 office workers had been working from home full time over the past year. As the company begins recalling them back to the office, Mukevisuis said she is aiming to create a “hybrid” policy under which some employees will be able to work one day a week at home and others two or three days and in some cases even four days.
For Strauss, he said, it’s important that staff show up at least one day a week at the office so that face-to-face meetings and training can take place.
Yanai said that to some degree employees are becoming more pampered in the post-COVID labor market.
“We used to think that we needed to pay the price of traffic jams to make a living and have a career, but the reality is changing. People are no longer willing to pay the price of sitting in traffic. They now see that they can achieve what they want from their jobs working at home. They think their employers have to take that into account and allow them to work remotely, at least part of the time,” she said.
Ilana Fahima, executive vice president for global human resources at Israel Chemicals, said her company had begun a pilot program before the pandemic erupted that let employees work from home. The initiative for it came from above in response to what it saw as the changing needs of younger staff.
“The young generation thinks about alternatives – they see other companies are becoming more flexible. We have to adjust to changes in the [labor] market,” she said. “We don’t just want to compete but to lead and identify in advance what changes are expected. It’s clear which way the world is going.”
ICL employs 11,000 people around the world, of which 4,500 are based in Israel. Of those, 700 are in office jobs that can be performed remotely. The company is adopting the pilot program’s format of four days a week in the office and one day at home.
Mukevisuis said that at the start of the pandemic, when employees were sent home to work, there were a lot of concerns about lost productivity. “But we’ve seen in retrospect that everyone worked efficiently and met their targets. I haven’t identified any harm to output due to remote work,” she said.
The CofaceBDI survey found the same thing. Among the companies surveyed, 55% reported that productivity was no different when employees worked remotely. Some 13% said it actually improved. Only 21% said it fell and another 8% said it fell by a lot. Just 3% said it wasn’t productive at all.
Among tech companies, 70% said productivity remained the same when staff worked at home and another 17% said it was a lot more productive.
Karin Tucker, the head of human resources for Amdocs Israel, said her company, too, began a pilot program a month before the pandemic that allowed employees to work one day a week at home. A year later, she said, the company is happy with the results.
Amdocs’ 4,000 Israeli staff – out of a global workforce of 27,000 – will be moving to a model of three days in the office and two at home. “We still want to see employees here because we think certain things can only happen at the office, such as informal conversations, brainstorming and innovation – things you can’t achieve when everyone is closed in their square in Zoom,” Tucker explained.
Fahima said ICL was also satisfied with how employees performed during the coronavirus year; the company achieved most of its goals. Nevertheless, ICL still wants office staff to work in the office three or four days a week now that the crisis has ended,
Despite the fact that companies reported that overall worker productivity was unharmed by remote work, two-thirds reported that managerial meetings online weren’t as productive as face to face. Yanai said that on the whole remote work placed a heavier burden on managers. It was more difficult to measure performance, they could no longer make eye contact with employees and start conversations easily. Contact by phone or Zoom, she said, is much more strenuous and less casual than in the office.
Moreover, a third of the HR managers surveyed said employees felt more pressure at home, versus 58% who said they saw no change. Yanai, for her part, said it wasn’t fair to use those results to judge how things would be in the long run. During the coronavirus, she noted, children were home.
“If we ask that question again when things have returned to normal, the level of pressure will undoubtedly go down because of the great flexibility and because they no longer have to deal with traffic,” she said. “People can adjust their work hours to the family.”
That, however, will only work if employers adopt hybrid modes. Working full time at home will only create confusion as workers struggle to separate their work and home lives, creating new pressures in the process.
Tucker said Amdocs had taken steps to deal with the issue, for instance, by shortening meeting times, fixed lunch hours, hours when no meetings are scheduled and dedicated time for solo projects.
On the other hand, Yanai added, remote workers are taking fewer sick days when they are at home. “Before, when an employee felt a little sick and couldn’t get out of bed, he took a sick day,” she said. “But when he’s working at home, he just gets up later and works into the night. He doesn’t want to waste a sick day without a good reason.”
MDR services and managing cybersecurity within your business | Carousel Industries
No matter the size, industry, or location, nearly every company today has a cybersecurity strategy. But there are many methodologies your organization can use to protect its digital assets and determining the right approach for your business means balancing your desired cybersecurity posture against your resource availability of staff and money.
Given the evolving threat landscape, reputation damage and financial harm that can result from a security incident, midsize organizations often struggle to determine how to implement an effective cybersecurity strategy while still being cost efficient.
We regularly work with clients who have these same questions. Through our years of experience building out a team of highly skilled cybersecurity experts, we’ve seen first-hand how demanding it can be—from both the cost and headcount standpoints—to develop and maintain an internal MDR. To help illustrate why expenses mount so quickly and how time-consuming the work conducted by a cybersecurity team really is, we’re launching a series of blog posts that dive into the details.
What does an effective cybersecurity team look like?
It’s important to understand the four distinct disciplines or roles that typically form the core of any skilled cybersecurity team.
Governance, risk management, and compliance
This function is sometimes part of the IT department but more often it’s a component within the risk management team. The role focuses on internal audit and third-party risk management functions and likely has a direct reporting line to the CISO when part of the IT team.
Threat detection and incident response are at the heart of the threat management team, encompassing 24/7 monitoring of the company’s assets with risk mitigation related to attacks and security breaches. This group leverages a complex set of tools, which are necessary for not only monitoring but also analysis, forensic investigations, attack mitigation, breach containment, and remediation.
SecOps utilizes tools that are core to the protection of the organization’s assets and the team’s responsibilities range across applications, endpoints, identity, edge, network, monitoring on compliance, management, and DevOps. The SecOps role focuses on the health, care, and feeding of the tools and platforms used to accomplish their tasks and ensuring activities are in alignment with best practices.
In order to remain compliant with evolving regulatory standards and maintain parity with the constantly changing threat landscape, an organization must continuously re-assess and update its tools and technologies. The group managing the company’s digital transformation efforts needs to have a strategy and long-term plans to ensure new implementations align with the organization’s use cases and requirements over time.
Looking at the math of cybersecurity
Of the four core areas described above, threat management and SecOps are the most resource intensive and expensive components of a cybersecurity program. Threat management is complex and difficult, and it doesn’t scale down well. Minimum viable coverage 24/7 across the various key areas—threat monitoring, threat research and hunting, pen testing, content development, attack simulation, and incident response among them—typically requires at least 15-20 people based on deep research conducted as part of a master’s dissertation focused exclusively on the topic. That level of coverage provides only a single resource in each of the senior roles and doesn’t allow for redundancy. An effective, properly staffed threat management function is nearly impossible to accomplish without a hefty budget available to launch and sustain operations. Attaining similar coverage within a SOC operation is equally prohibitive, requiring more than two dozen individuals with highly targeted skills and expertise.
There are relationships between spend levels and security postures that are relatively similar throughout the SME space. Looking across the available reports, mid-market companies report their IT budgets are typically about 7% of revenue. From there, SMEs say they spend an average of between 10% and 15% of their total IT budget on security. Depending on the organization and its industry, cybersecurity spend can reach 25% of the overall IT budget.
From there, the math reveals just how difficult it is for SMEs to staff and fund a high-performing cybersecurity team completely within their own organization. Using the minimum resource count of 15 people and an average blended rate of $100,000 per headcount, the threat management salary bill alone could tally $1.5 million per year. Assuming the business has 25% of the IT budget available to use for cybersecurity—and also assuming the technology stack would only cost about double the salary bill—then the annual revenue of the organization needs to top $250 million to make an all-internal cybersecurity architecture financially feasible. Utilization rates and other factors may still render it undesirable from a monetary standpoint, potentially even having a negative ROI if the minimum viable requirements fall short of meeting the company’s needs.
Creating the right cybersecurity architecture
So how can midsize firms develop a cybersecurity strategy that blends key internal headcount resources with the right level of external expertise? How can your business keep costs reasonable without sacrificing quality, either in the skills or technology available to protect the organization’s systems and data assets?
There are strong business justifications for maintaining some services in-house and equally important use cases that point to cost-effective outsourcing for other functions. A carefully constructed blend of internal headcount and external expertise provides the monitoring, detection, and response capabilities you need with a financial commitment that fits your budget. The assessments of where those functions are best positioned are covered in more detail in the next post in our cybersecurity series to help you find the right balance for your organization.
Business Of One: Collective Gathers $20M For Self-Employed Financial Services
Subscription-based back-office platform Collective returns with another round of funding, this time a $20 million Series A supported by returning players and a group of new and notable backers.
The new funding comes eight months after the San Francisco-based company raised $8.65 million in seed investment. Its platform provides “businesses of one” with tailored financial services, including access to trusted advisers who oversee accounting, tax, bookkeeping and business formation needs.
“It has been a tremendous period of growth since our seed round,” CEO Hooman Radfar told Crunchbase News. “We’ve had 20,000 members join the waitlist and experienced 8x to 9x growth since that point in membership. We are saving people in businesses of one $16,000 per year and helping them become self-employed.”
General Catalyst is again leading the new round and was joined by Ashton Kutcher, via Sound Ventures, as well as existing investors Expa, QED Investors and Gradient Ventures. Other notable investors include Steve Chen, Hamish McKenzie, Aaron Levie, Kevin Lin, Sam Yam, Li Jin, Shadiah Sigala, Adrian Aoun, Holly Liu, Andrew Dudum and Edward Hartman. This round brings Collective’s total funding to $28.65 million, according to Crunchbase data.
Radfar, along with co-founders Ugur Kaner and Bugra Akcay, launched Collective in September 2020 to go after 59 million self-employed workers in the U.S. who balance administrative tasks with building their business. That number is projected to be 86.5 million by 2027.
The company saw its revenue grow by more than 250 percent in the past year. As such, Radfar intends to invest the new funding in scaling the business, the automation roadmap and new hires.
“We are thinking about our members first and on making them successful,” he added. “We will expand our team to handle the demand and get people off of the waitlist. We continue to make investments in automation, including quarterly tax estimates, and you can also speak with someone from Collective to help you do your taxes.”
Once the tax season is closed out in June, Collective will focus on building on its team of 30, Radfar said. He is currently looking to bring in a person to partner with him on recruiting and developing the talent Collective already has, as well as seek out operations and product technology.
Meanwhile, Niko Bonatsos, managing director of General Catalyst, said the future of the self-employed space will involve earning the trust of individuals, and he believes that Collective has a good foundation there, as well as a strong market fit and team.
“When you have that trust, you can then begin to layer other services, such as benefits and insurance,” he said in an interview. “We felt Collective could emerge as a category-defining company as millions of people are forming businesses of one. More startups are getting incorporated than ever before during the pandemic, so we are on the right side of history.”
Illustration: Dom Guzman
He Built A $2 Billion Business By Creating A SaaS Platform That Powers Banking Services
Eugene Danilkis has raised close to $175M to reengineer how financial and banking services are designed and delivered.
During our interview on the Dealmakers Show Danilkis shared his adventures into entrepreneurship, his perspective on taking risks, fundraising and growing as a startup CEO.
Travel & New Perspectives On Risk
Eugene Danilkis was born in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He didn’t know why his parents were teaching him English when he was still barely learning to speak their native Russian language. It wasn’t until they hopped on a train to leave the country when he was just seven years old that it all made sense to him.
After spending six months in Italy, they finally arrived in Canada, where he spent most of his early life growing up in Vancouver.
He says being thrown into a new culture and language actually motivated him to learn, and as quickly as possible. Partially for survival, but also to thrive, and because so many benefits came from it.
This big transition also gave Eugene a whole new perspective on risk. He saw the big risk his parents took moving their family halfway across the world to a completely new environment. When it came to thinking about entrepreneurship he realized that any potential downsides would be trivial compared to the risks his parents had taken to bring him so far already. He knew what hard was, and he wasn’t afraid of failing at work.
He also credits his parents with offering tremendous support and encouraging him to go above and beyond in applying himself to his studies. That helped him excel in math and computer science.
After college he landed a job writing software that would be used by NASA on the International Space Station
After college he landed a job with the Canadian Space Agency, writing software for NASA satellites.
That experience again set the bar pretty high for what could keep him engaged and interested. Pursuing his Master’s degree seemed like a new challenge worthy of taking on. Even more so when the opportunity arose to get his degree in the US at Carnegie Mellon.
It would be an exciting new adventure to embrace. One with more travel and learning ahead. A chance to start from scratch and explore. So, he gave up his apartment, got rid of his furniture, and got ready to take off with just what he could carry in suitcases.
That program ended up taking him to even more countries, including Portugal, Germany and Netherlands. A lot of the time was also spent working on banking software for a corporate sponsor.
Venturing Into Entrepreneurship
During this program Eugene and his co-founders learned a lot about the world of banking and finance. They saw a great opportunity to innovate and build on the technology side, and to have a big impact. They could see this huge trend happening. This was their chance to ride that wave.
So, again he leaped into a new adventure. Making that leap, and giving up a job, salary, and moving to a new place is what keeps most people stagnant, and on the sidelines.
From his experiences growing up, Eugene says there really was no downside. He could always go back and get a job if he really wanted to. In the worst-case scenario, at least he would get the chance to learn a lot. It was all upside potential.
So, again he leapt into a new adventure. And together they started Mambu.
They spent the first year bootstrapping and figuring out exactly what they were building.
The two of them used consulting and software development to pay the bills and keep their exploratory work running. They built a prototype and then found the backing of some angel investors. That made it real for them. Though it would still be several years before they really made it big.
In fact, looking back and considering his top advice for starting a business with this hindsight, he says he would spend less time trying to convince customers and investors of what they had built already and put more emphasis on transparently iterating and building customized solutions along with their paying customers and shareholders.
Eugene describes Mambu as a SaaS platform for banking like Salesforce is to CRM. The back-office system for banks, lenders, and other fintech businesses to design and manage how their products work. It is an accelerating space in which he sayshas infinite evolutions as consumers and products change in the future.
To date, they have raised $175 million at a $2 billion valuation.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Eugene Danilkis was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Establishing Clarity & Focus
Some of the great takeaways from this podcast episode were how this entrepreneur approaches board meetings and his own evolving role as a founding CEO.
He describes being more intentional and how taking the time to be more clear about the priorities ahead can make a lot of difference in working with your board, and also ensuring you are doing a good job, at the right level as a leader.
For example, clearly and explicitly laying out your own job description with your cofounders each year, as your business evolves. As well as using that same clarity with your board to get the best advice from them, and the most out of your interactions with them.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- The keys to surviving lean times to get through to the flush times in your business
- How fundraising changes as you progress through funding rounds
- How big the banking services space is
The post He Built A $2 Billion Business By Creating A SaaS Platform That Powers Banking Services appeared first on Alejandro Cremades.
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