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47. Jeff Karlsson: "the biggest threat that our customers have is not having a contingency plan."

47. Jeff Karlsson:

Episode 47 of the HIPAA Critical podcast features an interview with Jeff Karlsson, chief operating officer at Divergent Business Consulting.




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Here's the full transcript of this episode.

Hannah Trum: I'm Hannah Trum and this is the HIPAA Critical podcast.
The challenges of 2020 are still lingering in many industries. We might be in a new year but the effects of the covid-19 pandemic reach far and wide. The way we work and the way businesses operated changed dramatically and almost overnight.  Many businesses, especially those in health care, are forced to streamline or quickly improve how they operate, how they deal with patients, and how their staff works.  Jeff Karlsson is on today's episode. Jeff is the chief operating officer of Divergent Business Consulting , a Salesforce and financial consulting company. Jeff and Sierra Langston sit down to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, how to force change across many industries, and emerging healthcare trends.  Let's tune in. 

Sierra Langston: Hi Jeff, thanks for joining me today. I'm very happy to have you on. 

Jeff Karlsson: Thanks. It's a pleasure to be here. 

Sierra: Well, Jeff, can you provide some background on divergent business consulting? You guys are, where you're located and who you all serve? That would be a great starting point.

Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks again for the time to chat. 

We're a Salesforce and financial consulting company. Our goal is really to help others do business differently. That's kind of the concept behind Divergent, we do it differently. 

Part of our mission statement on our website is to help develop leaders who empower and develop other leaders. We feel that leaders can unlock the long-term potential of the people we serve. That could be our employees or clients, business partners, whoever we're working with. We really find a lot of passion and joy in helping unlock the potential of others. It's really fun to see clients benefit from the services you provide. 

Our core services are focused on implementations with the Salesforce platform. For any of your listeners who may not know that probably, it’s the most popular customer relationship management software. Governments, almost all other Fortune 500 companies, just about everybody's touched or at least knows about Salesforce. It's a very, very popular tool. 

We help companies set it up and transfer data over to start using it. If they already have Salesforce, we help them optimize it and improve how they're using it. 

The second business unit that we like to focus on is helping companies with their financial business processes that could be managing their corporate cash flow, business risks, managing investments, or things like that. I don't work in that side of the business personally, although I do have a lot of background in financial services. I focus more on the technology and the Salesforce side. Some of my other colleagues and business partners love to focus on that financial aspect. 

Between those two things, we like to help our clients solve technology and financial difficulties. Those are usually the things that can cause businesses the most headache, right? We’ll know what they wanted to do, how they want to market it, how they want to sell things, but have you managed it when things hit the road? We'd like to deal with that. 

Our company is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. I have a few other offices, we have one in San Francisco, New York, and Atlanta, and a few remote employees. I'm actually one of those remote employees. I'm based in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. My other colleagues are in those places, or wherever they happen to be. That's kind of the world of work today, especially with this past year with COVID, the physical locations don't really quite mean as much as they used to.

Sierra: Right! At Paubox we're all pretty much remote as well. So I am with you.

Jeff: As you can imagine, most of our clients are in the United States. We have some clients based in the United States that have multinational operations and work in other countries, but generally speaking, most of our clients are in the US, and we help those types of clients. If anybody wants to learn more about us, our website is

Sierra: In regard to your healthcare customers, specifically, what's the biggest challenge or mission you have currently?

Jeff: With healthcare customers, obviously, there's the COVID pandemic. That's been such a major impact on so many people in so many industries and probably helped core healthcare more than any other industry. Arguably the least, in my opinion, impacted by this. 

Our goal has always been to help look at things differently. Many people in this pandemic have realized the past way of doing things just isn't going to work. We have to change how we work together and how we utilize our people. You know, how many people we need to do certain things. How do we do training to help people when they can't come in person? How do we help onboard new people? 

There are so many different challenges and things that people have to deal with and for healthcare customers. I don't think that's too unique. There are definitely some unique challenges that other businesses don't have. But from what I've gathered, their biggest challenges are generally related to what many other businesses are seeing.

Sierra: How has COVID changed your approach? And your healthcare clients’ approach to IT security? 

Jeff: Things are rapidly changing for sure. If it wasn't enough to just have a COVID pandemic, there are all kinds of other things going on in the world at the moment. 

For us, personally, and our clients, IT security is definitely an important thing. We've always had HIPAA compliance and confidential information that needs to be protected. There's financial information, several of our clients are in the insurance industry. You have sensitive financial information, personal information, so forth, that needs to be protected. 

Other clients we have are in the pharmaceutical and drug discovery industry. Also, some provide remote medical services, are governments or corporations, or nonprofits who have employees or in far-flung areas of the world. There was one particular customer that needed a solution, like Paubox, to help them with keeping their email secure, specifically. 

It's been interesting. They need to find new and different ways and ensure they are getting everything security that they need to.

Sierra: Thanks for mentioning Paubox! That leads me to the next question. How has COVID changed the IT stack of your healthcare customers and clients? 

Jeff: Absolutely. One of those clients that I mentioned looked for a solution that could integrate with Salesforce. They were providing support to governments and nonprofits and corporations that needed medical care in remote areas. 

Because they didn't have a lot of case volumes or requests coming in they just had one big shared email box. They used an encryption tool. Well, if all you need is one email box, and you're able to work out of that. But it's just not a scalable solution. Seven people can't work out of one email box. When you get to 14 or 21 employees, you need a customer support system. 

Salesforce is definitely one of those great tools in the industry that help support organizations to better serve their customers or patients. This customer had been using Salesforce for a long time, and they had only been using it for sales. They really wanted to use it better for support. Their big challenge was “how do we get email to be encrypted when we are sending it in and out of Salesforce?” Paubox helps fill that need in their IT stack.

Sierra: Are there any other solutions or applications that you're currently using? I know you mentioned Salesforce. What about Slack?

Jeff: Slack is an interesting one since Salesforce announced that they're acquiring Slack and going to bring Slack as part of their toolset. Slack is a great tool for external collaboration. We've also used it as part of a large enterprise project where the customer and five other vendors would all use Slack to collaborate together. 

We’re in this world where you may not be able to get on-site and collaborate in person with a bunch of stakeholders. Slack and other tools have definitely filled the need that many companies have to keep things secure but still keep your ability to collaborate really high where you need to be.

Sierra: I agree. We use Slack at Paubox. It was down for a couple of hours and it was hard to function, to be honest. It's a lifeline for us. 

What are the biggest threats you're seeing from your healthcare customers and clients right now?

Jeff: Like we were just mentioning when Slack went down for you guys, it can bring things to a halt. This technology is a necessary evil to work effectively in the environment we are in now, especially with a pandemic, but there's definitely a reliance on that. 

The biggest threat that our customers have is not having a contingency plan. Many companies didn't have a contingency plan when COVID hit and scrambled to try and figure it out. How do we do business now? There was a loss of productivity for a month or two, or however long it was.

If there's some kind of catastrophe, financial or natural, or whatever that case is, how do we do business an alternative way? It's not usually the top of everyone's priority list, but it definitely is a good exercise to at least spend some time on.

Sierra: Good thoughts, and thanks for sharing that. Are there any upcoming healthcare trends that our listeners should be aware of?

Jeff: This is a great question. I'm interested to see if healthcare companies will embrace what many technology companies have. Companies like Twitter, Adobe, Facebook, Amazon have said, employees can permanently work from home forever. There's no need to ever come back into an office or collaborate in person. That's a very interesting trend in some industries because it doesn't make sense when you provide your services in person and so forth. 

There may be some healthcare verticals where maybe that makes sense. Maybe that becomes a competitive advantage. I'm trying to see how COVID will affect everyone long term; will be an interesting trend to follow.

Sierra: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I do agree with you that everyone was not prepared. The company that I worked for before this, they were not prepared. They did not have anything in place. They had to lay off a huge amount of individuals, like a lot of companies because they didn't have a contingency plan in place. They weren't prepared for something like this. 

Where do you see the security compliance or healthcare industry going in the next 10 years?

Jeff: It's going to be a very interesting trend to follow. If you'd asked this a year ago, the answer might be completely right. Everyone was caught off guard by the global pandemic. It really only happened 100 years since Spanish influenza. Will that happen again? We're not really sure. 

I think it goes back into that same thought of people needing to be thinking about these contingency plans, they need to be prepared. You are balancing the risk, right? Either you plan ahead and spend time, money, and resources trying to figure out what will we do if this happens, or if that happens, and maybe it never happens, and you just “wasted your time.”

Sierra: It's better to be safe than sorry.

Jeff: And if it does happen, you save yourself a lot of time at the moment, potentially even save your business or help employees and so forth.

I don't know if [contigency plans] will be a widespread trend that is adopted, but certainly, many businesses should be thinking about it and are thinking about it now.

Sierra: Jeff, that concludes our interview, and I appreciate it very much. Thanks so much for being on.

Hannah: To access resources to help your organization stay in top cybersecurity shape, visit our blog at . Our latest webinar with Bruce Snell, global vice president of security strategy and transformation at NTT, will be at 10:00 am pacific on Thursday, June 24. This webinar will cover the growing threat of ransomware because of the pandemic, how to protect against it, and forward-thinking approaches to mitigating risk.  To register for free please email me at or head to and hit resources.  Have you added Paubox SECURE to your fall calendar? We’ll be back in person this year at the Park MGM in Las Vegas on September 29th and 30th for our fourth annual cybersecurity and innovation conference.  During this two-day event, you’ll hear from industry experts, like Kelvin Coleman of the National Cyber Security Alliance, discuss healthcare, compliance, and mitigating risk, while mingling and networking with our speakers and your peers.  If you’re interested in sponsoring, speaking, or attending Paubox SECURE, please reach out to me at . For additional information about Paubox SECURE, head to  Every episode of the HIPAA Critical podcast is available on or you can subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, or Amazon Music. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the HIPAA Critical Podcast. I’m your host, Hannah Trum, signing off.
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