Ken Frantz Of BPM: How AI Is Disrupting Our Industry, and What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Be bold — We work with several innovators who are investing large amounts of time and funds in developing solutions based on the new technology. As individuals, we need to act boldly to keep up with the change and prepare for our futures, no matter our career stage.

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the future; it is the present. It’s reshaping landscapes, altering industries, and transforming the way we live and work. With its rapid advancement, AI is causing disruption — for better or worse — in every field imaginable. While it promises efficiency and growth, it also brings challenges and uncertainties that professionals and businesses must navigate. What can one do to pivot if AI is disrupting their industry? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ken Frantz, Managing Director, Advisory at BPM.

Ken Frantz provides cyber advisory and consulting services for financial services, life sciences, healthcare and other highly technology-dependent industries. He is an experienced IT leader focused on helping clients transform and innovate their technology while reducing cyber risks across their organizations.
Ken’s experience includes helping clients develop enterprise-wide security programs, implementing emerging technology to protect systems and data, and developing strategies to address Artificial Intelligence risks.
At BPM, Ken and his team are using advanced technology to help understaffed security teams get outsized visibility to the exposures in their systems and networks. He delivers innovative and powerful solutions to businesses that are facing the growing challenges of adversarial AI and compliance challenges from the SEC and other organizations.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

When I was in middle school, my father purchased a Radio Shack TRS-80 (IYKYK) for the family, and I learned basic programming, so I grew up with technology and an interest in what I could do with it. Throughout my early cyber career, I worked for a firm that had a government contract. My assigned task was reviewing 12-inch-high stacks of green bar paper for security anomalies and incidents. Knowing that was an impossible and ineffective task, a colleague and I set out and developed a rudimentary system that ingested mainframe and local area network access logs to correlate data and identify events that a human couldn’t detect.

That work got me noticed by another firm, and then another, and the activities and opportunities continued to grow. I’ve taken many incremental steps through different industries and leadership roles. I feel like I’ve come full circle to cyber consulting based on the uses of data analytics, now AI and many advancements to come to protect systems and critical business activities.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

BPM is one of the fastest-growing Assurance, Advisory and Tax firms in the U.S. Originating in Northern California, we have a base of clients and relationships with innovators at the center of the technology industry and the forefront of AI innovation. Our team delivers high-quality business services directed at small- and medium-sized businesses, with a specialty in helping emerging technology companies grow and go public. Working with team members who collaborate broadly across practice groups to serve our clients is energizing. We’re small enough to innovate and deliver personalized service to our clients, yet large enough to take on development initiatives based on new technologies.

Also, recognizing that March is Women’s History Month, most of BPM’s leadership team identifies as female. BPM continues to invest in DEIB. In a field that’s not known for diversity, our leaders work to implement and share best practices around helping women and minority groups be successful in their careers. We strive to elevate diverse groups of people — women, LGBTQIA+, minorities, and under-represented groups of all ages and abilities — into leadership roles across the Firm. In fact, BPM has been recognized many times over as the “Best CPA Firm for Women,” thanks to our focus on equitable opportunities and women’s leadership initiatives.

We have a unique opportunity to increase participation in tech careers and build a more diverse workforce community.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each? 

I think three key traits have helped me get to where I am today: intellectual curiosity, the art of communicating, and the tenacity to drive through uncertainty and adversity.

Intellectual curiosity and lifelong learning have helped me to chase knowledge in industries and technology that didn’t exist when I started my career. By regularly saying ‘yes’ to opportunities, even when I didn’t know how to complete a specific job, I found people who would share their experiences and point me in the direction of learning what I needed. I’m thankful for the experienced IBM system engineers who helped me learn mainframes and for a whole community sharing ideas and innovations using AI.

Practicing the art of communicating complex subjects in relatable terms helps me turn cyber, AI and other technical discussions into business discussions. While serving as a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in a prominent healthcare organization, I regularly had the opportunity to talk with executives and the board well before CISOs were pervasive. I’m fortunate that the organization was forward-thinking and had a proactive view in adopting electronic medical records, seeing the value of the data and how it could support clinical decision-making. They also saw the risk and, therefore, the value of cybersecurity.

The tenacity to work through adversity and find good opportunities enabled me to learn and serve my community and family. At times, I’ve had challenges appear. I’ve always found the next opportunity to do interesting and rewarding work by being tenacious. I’ve valued helping people, and that has paid dividends. I’m in my current position because a colleague from my last firm preceded me to BPM and shared what a great firm it is. I’ve found that he’s right, and I’m doing some of the most interesting work in my career.

Let’s now move to the main point of our discussion about AI. Can you explain how AI is disrupting your industry? Is this disruption hurting or helping your bottom line? 

AI takes many forms, from automation and machine learning to generative and general AI and beyond. Regardless of your definition, AI is helping to eliminate redundant and low-stimulus tasks. The tasks can be performed faster and better than manual and low-technology tasks. AI enables faster review of documentation, summarizing content and identifying disparities. It’s creating opportunities to review data at scale and find patterns and details in ways that previously had not been performed or addressed because manual labor was cost-prohibitive, and comparisons couldn’t be made across broad data sets.

Enabling more automation and digital analysis affects the skills we need in our workforce. Thus, we need to stay on top of the tools that are available to us and provide new learning opportunities for our workforce.

Which specific AI technology has had the most significant impact on your industry?

On one hand, machine learning helps our technology partners and team members develop solutions that can ingest and make sense of more data than previously possible. I have a special appreciation for the new and innovative solutions that can continuously and proactively monitor systems for threat exposure and vulnerabilities based on my initial work with data and information protection.

We’re working with one alliance partner to help clients create a duplicate image or digital twin of their network, servers and connected devices. The system can run continuous simulated penetration testing on networks with tens of thousands of devices. It can do this with greater accuracy and on a larger scale than human-run testing. The system is continuously learning about new vulnerabilities and hacking techniques, enabling organizations to run much more frequent simulated penetration tests without concern for harming their production networks and without the errors, variations and fatigue that come from human testing.

Generative AI is helping to write the code that instructs systems to do new tasks, including orchestrating automated responses to deal with identified vulnerabilities.

These tools create a fly-wheel effect that increases the pace of innovation.

Unfortunately, a part of society is using the same technologies to find weaknesses in systems to evade detection and commit computer crimes. I could continue with this subject for some time, so I’ll pause to say I appreciate every innovator and cyber professional working to create new systems and methods to keep our hospitals, energy grids, financial systems and other critical infrastructure safe for our public good.

Can you share a pivotal moment when you recognized the profound impact AI would have on your sector?

I don’t know that there was any one moment that I recognized the profound impact as the innovation has been incremental over the course of my career. If I had to pick a moment, looking back, it would be as Alexa and other digital assistants came into our homes, and it became easier to talk to a device and get quick and accurate responses to questions on a broad array of topics.

The release of ChatGPT was also a pivotal point when more powerful technology was made available to the public, accelerating the pace of change.

How are you preparing your workforce for the integration of AI, and what skills do you believe will be most valuable in an AI-enhanced future?

The most valuable skills, I believe, will be the ability to see the art of the possible and the ways that systems can be used to find efficiencies in whatever tasks workers perform. At BPM, we’re preparing our workforce by introducing emerging technologies to teams, giving them the opportunity to use the available solutions, innovate their work and share the best practices across the teams they work on.

The ability to analyze processes, identify efficiencies, and understand what data and other inputs result in reliable system performance or outputs will help workers in their own ability to adapt to change. They can develop their skills while mentoring and leading their teams on the same journey.

What are the biggest challenges in upskilling your workforce for an AI-centric future?

One of the biggest challenges to upskilling is pulling our heads out of our current work and other life factors to focus our minds on what technologies are available and learning how to use them. The AI-enabled systems are increasingly more straightforward to use to complete complex tasks. Still, a significant amount of effort goes into testing technical and process solutions to ensure they are of sufficient quality.

With AI, more than other societal changes throughout history, we will all be challenged to analyze the text, images, video, emails and other sources of information we receive and determine if what we’re seeing is accurate and truthful or something manipulated by AI that leads to a business error or worse.

We’ll also be challenged to understand the potential moral and ethical implications of adopting an AI-centric future. We will need to remain ever vigilant to ensure that the AI we’re using is beneficial and responsibly employed. This is another subject that could be an interview on its own.

What ethical considerations does AI introduce into your industry, and how are you tackling these concerns?

For an industry like ours that creates content based on audits, tax assessments, and other analytical and creative works, I’m concerned about the accuracy of our reporting and the potential to appropriate the intellectual property of others without proper permissions.

We’ve seen stories about using generative AI for legal research and presenting the “hallucinations” of fictional legal cases in court filings and ambiguity of intellectual property rights for work created based on the sources used to train AI systems.

We’re tackling the concerns by teaching the risks of using AI and ensuring we apply human quality assurance activities to review output before publicly presenting it. The ease of using generative AI is alluring. We need to be vigilant to prevent misuse.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Do, If AI Is Disrupting Your Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Read – The pace of change is faster than ever, and the myriad use cases are hard to imagine. In this age of content creation and sharing, a ton of information is available to learn. I’ve joined with groups of colleagues who are proactive in sharing and creating a library of the most useful articles and resources.
  2. Experiment – With innovative technologies, learning how they work and what will break them is important. I wasn’t an intentionally destructive kid, but I liked to take things apart to put them back together. That developed into a curiosity on PCs, programming, and now into AI and a service we have for AI Red Teaming – essentially seeing if we can break down AI and make it do something it wasn’t intended to do so that we can help fix it.
  3. Scan your surroundings – Determine whether your organization will innovate and take advantage of advancements. Understand whether your position will be obsolete. You may be a content creator and be concerned that AI will replace you, but at this stage, there are opportunities for Gen AI prompt engineers who know how to ask the systems the right questions to get useful and accurate output. Then, editors and quality analysts still improve and verify the output.
  4. Innovate – Find new ways to use AI that are little known by your peers – whether advanced AI is used in autonomous driving or more rudimentary forms of AI – and help push your business forward. The steno and typing pools that existed into the early 80s have been replaced by word processing and digital transcription. Anticipate what manual work will be digitized and find opportunities to be part of the new solutions.
  5. Be bold – We work with several innovators who are investing large amounts of time and funds in developing solutions based on the new technology. As individuals, we need to act boldly to keep up with the change and prepare for our futures, no matter our career stage.

My mother was late in her career as a high school math teacher. PCs and desktop applications were in their infancy. She challenged the old thinking at her school that still heavily emphasized electronic typewriters and manual ledgers. Without much more knowledge than her first students, she started teaching word processing, spreadsheets, databases and accounting applications. My mother didn’t know on the first day of school what she would teach a week later. She was firm in her conviction that the subjects needed to be taught to prepare the students for the changing business work and bold enough to know she would learn what they needed to know before she had to teach it. She passed that passion and conviction to me.

What are the most common misconceptions about AI within your industry, and how do you address them?

One of the most common misconceptions is that AI will result in widespread layoffs and unemployment. Undoubtedly, jobs will change, but I remind people of how innovations have created job growth.

Another is that AI systems learn on their own. The systems we see result from extensive development by data scientists and other developers to curate data and guide systems through their training to perform the systems we see.

I think there is also a perception that AI is accurate. By teaching the limitations of AI and the errors it can produce, we can help everyone using the systems to be more vigilant to ensure what they present based on AI is complete and accurate.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life? 

I have a new favorite that aligns with this subject: Mario Andretti, the race car driver, once said, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” Success with AI requires a willingness to take some chances. I’m generally risk averse and seeking opportunities to create controlled systems because many of the issues I’ve dealt with in my career could affect life safety. I find a middle ground of putting guardrails in place to prevent the most harmful results, but successful innovation requires a willingness to take chances.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process? 

In addition to innovation and serving our clients, we have a business to run. I frequently wonder whether we’re innovating in the right direction, how we need to prepare our workforce and how to prepare for the next shift. Our clients and the firms we compete with will change their businesses based on new AI methods. We’re regularly looking at how we can provide higher quality services more efficiently in the most valuable areas.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That’s a challenging question because it makes me question why I am not doing more about this problem already. I’m concerned about gun violence, especially among children and teens. As technology creates more wealth and in unprecedented concentration, I hope that technology can become more effective as a resource to educate children who couldn’t access a world outside their community.

Maybe, with new opportunities to spread computer literacy and a concerted effort to make technology available across the country, in cities and rural areas, we can change the cycle of violence.

How can our readers further follow you online?

These days, my central platform is BPM Insights at We have some interesting webinars on AI and using AI to secure critical systems that are accessible through our site. The easiest way to follow me or connect directly is through LinkedIn at:

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.