May 1, 2024

Bonus Episode: AI Today, AI Tomorrow

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In this special bonus episode of MSP Chat, sponsored by SuperOps, Erick and Rich discuss TD SYNNEX’s plans to help its partners get into the market for sophisticated AI solutions, and the reasons MSPs need to stop talking about technology outcomes with clients and start talking about business outcomes instead. Then they’re joined by SuperOps channel chief Juan Fernandez for an insightful look at the mindset and toolset changes MSPs must make to keep pace with evolving customer needs. And finally, one last thing: how AI helped a Finnish coffee roaster create a new blend that apparently doesn’t taste like a hallucination.


Discussed in this episode:

TD SYNNEX Cuts to the AI Chase

A coffee roastery in Finland has launched an AI-generated blend. The results were surprising



Rich: [00:00:00] This episode of MSP Chat is sponsored by Super Ops. Super Ops is transforming MSP businesses worldwide by automating and streamlining their service delivery, asset management, and network monitoring and management. Its unified AI powered PSA RMM platform features built in network monitoring, IT documentation, project management, and more.

Plus, transparent pricing and absolutely no contracts. To learn more about how Super Ops can help you build for the future and build for growth, visit www. superops. com. And 3, 2, 1, blast off! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of the MSP Chat Podcast, sponsored by Super Ops. Your weekly visit with two talking heads, talking with you about the services, strategies, and success tips you need to make it big in managed services.

My name is Rich Freeman. I’m chief content officer and channel analyst at Channel Master, the organization responsible for this program. I am joined this week as I am every week by your other co host, Erick Simpson, our chief strategist, my friend of many years, Erick, how are you?

Erick: I’m doing well, Rich. I’m doing well.

I’m I’m at home base and you’re. Traveling as you are picking up more and more travel this year So you’re you know on the scorecard you’re beating me by quite a bit rich

Rich: This is it’s turning out to be quite a busy time of year for travel Things are going to slow down over the summer. But as we’re recording this now, early in april i’ve already been on a few trips.

I’ve got i’ve been i’m visiting two different conferences this week We’re both going to be at the kaseya conference later in the month here. I’ve got A big giant visit to the RSA conference coming up in RSA. So yeah, busy time of year. Things will slow down in the summer, but the fall’s gonna be really busy for both of us, too.

Erick: Yep, and so much going on, so much news to report on and discuss.

Rich: As I said, this particular episode of the show is sponsored by Super Ops. Stick around, folks, cause later on in the show, we’re gonna be joined by Juan Fernandez, the channel chief at Super Ops to talk a little bit. About his vision his highly informed vision, cause he’s a former MSP himself, about the future of managed services and where tools and AI in particular kind of play into that.

The reason I’m on the road this week, Erick, as we transition into our story of the week right now, as we record this, I’m attending a TD Cinex conference in Las Vegas. And very interesting for a number of different reasons, but one of the big takeaways for me is just that I may be a little bit behind the times in my mindset with respect to where we are in this industry and the channel right now.

With AI, because I’ve been writing a fair amount in my blog, Channel Holic, about this topic. And everybody, we, we’re well into, we’re over a year into the generative AI era. Everybody understands the power of AI’s productivity tool for MSPs, in terms of doing scripting for you, and helping automate workflows, potentially even resolving tickets for you.

So using AI in house to be more productive and therefore more profitable. Very obvious at this point and something I think everyone’s bought into, but there is more controversy or controversy out there still about whether or not AI is something that an MSP can make money from selling to clients.

And we’ve spoken before about HATS AI, which is this recently launched vendor that is specifically out there trying to help MSPs introduce AI based managed services, I’ve got an article coming up in a couple of weeks about some more examples. But the folks here at TD Cinex, it turns out are pretty well down the road on that path and doing it at a fairly sophisticated level.

They have this program that they launched last year, probably a year ago at this point called destination AI. And when it first came out, it was really, as you would expect, given how new AI was at the time, chiefly educational in focus, helping people understand the potential power. Or impact of AI on their business.

But what I learned at the conference here is that they’re already out of the gate with sales plays and sales playbooks and pre assembled solutions. That their partners can go out and offer. There’s a vision AI, a solution. I won’t go into the details, but they’ve bundled together the software and and the hardware and potentially the services, if you need them so that you can just go out to market with this particular AI solution to your customers.

The services piece of that is important because they freely acknowledge a lot of partners out there don’t have services [00:05:00] expertise in house. They can help fill in the gaps increasingly where needed. And if they can’t do it themselves at TD Cinex, they can connect you to other TD Cinex partners potentially who have those capabilities.

So it was an eye opening few days for me here at the show Rich. Some of this is, I think, Specific to TD Cinex I know at D& H and Ingram Micro, they’re talking a lot about AI and making money off of AI as well, but they’re focusing that principally around Copilot which is the low hanging fruit and they’re talking about Copilot 2 and AI PCs at TD Cinex, but they have these more.

Sophisticated solutions that they’re increasingly pulling together. And they are further down the road on that path and therefore enabling their partners to be further down the road on that path. And I realized,

Erick: yeah, I’m really, um, I’m a bit surprised at how far ahead they are in packaging and productizing.

These services and solutions centered around AI. I think they got the early jump. It sounds like Rich, and identifying where the market is shifting. What, like you said, what the impact of AI is. And I would assume they’re also talking about how to use AI, appropriately, so there, where there’s tremendous opportunity, there can also be. Challenging risks and pitfalls and things like that. How much are they talking about that?

Rich: That, education and thought leadership remain a big part of of this destination AI program. So that’s where they started.

They’re still doing that. And yeah, it is very much part of of the. Total package that they’re bringing to their partners, helping you understand the market plan the market responsibly, but then go to market with specific offerings.

Erick: Yeah, that’s that’s great because if you leave it to the MSPs MSPs are looking to grow their businesses or looking to gain efficiencies, but they don’t have a lot of time rich to do a lot of research and.

And testing and proof of concepts and things like that. So when, it was a great strategic partner, like TD Cinex steps up and says, Hey, we’ll do that heavy lifting for you. We’ll show you the way we’ll battle test it. And then we’ll lead you through it together for, for go to market strategies that we can mutually execute.

That’s, I think a great way to get the attention of the MSPs. Give them the perspectives that they need and how to have these conversations with their clients, because I’ll bet you rich that those conversations with clients around AI, the framework of around that conversation is probably similar to the framework around the conversation they’re having about cybersecurity.

It’s something that. The client needs to be educated on and to understand the opportunity and understand the value that the MSP can bring to them by delivering these AI powered or AI supported services.

Rich: Yeah. And what they’re doing not only at TD Cinex, but at Ingram and DNH and these other distributors as well.

What they’re doing in AI is very similar to what they have been doing for a number of years now in cybersecurity, in cloud computing in managed services sometimes the, the distributor being in the middle of the vendors on one side and partners on on the other and through the partners, they can see the end users, they have a different perspective on the industry and they can see that cloud security managed services and now AI are all giant market opportunities.

And a classic kind of function that distributors perform is to help the partners, the solution providers and resellers get after these new opportunities. And the first step in that process is making it easier for these partners to understand, wrap their arms around what is this opportunity? Where do I begin?

What do I need to know? And then what do I go out, sell and how do I sell it?

Erick: Yeah. I look forward to reading your article. We’ll make sure and link. To it in the show notes below.

Rich: All right. Let’s move on to your tip of the week Erick. And we’re talking about AI solutions. I think your tip of the week is solution oriented in a sense as well.

Erick: Yeah it’s a little bit solutions oriented. It’s more outcome oriented, rich and this spawned. I had another tip of the week that I was ready to present today, but this, was an idea that came from an earlier conversation that you and I and other members of the channel master leadership team were on.

We were discussing a different topic, the, one of the things that, that came to my mind was moving from selling technology. Outcomes for MSPs to selling business outcomes. So when, MSPs first get out of the gate, just like any new business, they’re trying to, pay the bills, keep the lights on.

And they’re trying to identify what their clients needs are. And in this very, early stage of maturity, what I tend to find [00:10:00] is they’re selling technology outcomes or maybe a, Cyber security outcome, or maybe it’s a, very technology specific outcome. And as we grow and mature as business owners and as MSPs, we see that the value that we’re delivering to the clients is that how cheaply we can deliver services or how much we can improve their technology for a particular outcome or a particular business unit.

But we start moving up into a more strategic conversations. This is where the VCIO conversations come into play. We’re trying to be more strategic and learn more about the business owners, key drivers. They’re really more interested in the outcome. Of the relationship that we deliver to them as an MSP from how it moves their entire business forward.

So when we’re having those strategic conversations during our QBRs or strategic business reviews, rich, we’re talking now about business outcomes. And we’re asking more informed questions about the vision of the organization, about where that client wants to be in three to five years, about how the what their growth strategy is.

And how we can adjust our ability to support them in a way that moves the entire organization forward. So now if I’m the MSP and I’m having these strategic conversations with my clients, rich, I’m asking these questions to get a read on where they’re going. Where the puck is going to be as a famous and Gretzky, said, and when I present a solution to them, I’m not presenting it any more about the A technology outcome.

We’re going to replace that CRM solution for you, right? I’m now talking about how the business outcome or the entire business is affected by that. So for instance, I’ll say, Hey, we’re going to, we need to improve the efficiency and the success rate of your sales team. One of the things that we’re going to do is replace the CRM solution, which will help drive more efficiency and make them more successful and allow you.

They have better reporting to manage the sales funnel or your sales director to manage the sales funnel, thereby growing your revenues and helping you achieve your growth goals this year for the organization. That is a much more compelling. Conversation to a business owner or a sales leader, then just Hey, we’re going to replace this because, version three does these five or six different, new things.

What do you think, Rich?

Rich: No I think as it happens, this is something I’ve been doing a little bit of writing about and channel Holick as, as well. And first of all, there is an increasing body of data out there indicating that this is what the end users Watch from a technology partner is a strategic advisor who can help them put technology to work to be more competitive.

But at the same time, as I think we all know, a lot of the services that MSPs historically have delivered and continue to deliver today, network management, endpoint management reselling cloud solutions. These are, or are rapidly becoming commoditized. And so the more you build your value proposition around these things, That other people can do and are doing the more vulnerable you are to the competition.

On the other hand, if you are, your value add to the customer isn’t, I bring you these technology products. But I acquire strategic understanding of where your business is and where it wants to go. And I help you use technology to get there. That is a different kind of conversation. It’s not one that can be easily commoditized.

It’s not one. Necessarily where somebody else can come in and and do it just as easily as you have. If you have a longstanding relationship with the client you’re that much stickier harder to replace. So I think from a long term. Competitiveness standpoint, a profitability standpoint a sort of competitive safety standpoint insulating yourself from competitors and commoditization that outcome oriented approach.

Business outcome oriented approach is a smart one.

Erick: And it grows that lifeline client value, it reduces churn. Who wouldn’t want to Serve less clients for higher fees than the opposite, right? Cause this is what ends up happening now. More strategic, more valuable to that organization.

Hence, your fees can be commensurately higher because there’s that value exchange, right?

Rich: We’re not literally talking about virtual CIO services necessarily, but the difference of, in what we’re talking about is the difference between the CIO function in a business and the IT guy business in a function.

The CIO plays a much more strategic role. The CIO is part of the C suite, sitting in on those C suite meetings, and conversing with the CEO about where the company is going on a regular basis. The I. T. Guy is keeping the lights on and the I. T. Guy [00:15:00] is easier to replace.

All right. Very good. Excellent advice. Erick with that folks, we’re going to take a break. When we come back on the other side, we’re going to be joined by. Juan Fernandez of Super Ops. This episode of the show is sponsored by Super Ops. Juan is a longtime presence in the channel as an MSP.

And he’s working now on the vendor side as the channel chief at Super Ops. He has some really interesting thoughts about the mindset. And tool set changes that MSPs need to invest in now to remain competitive in this new era of managed services that really we’ve just been talking about, Erick, and he’s going to share those with us in just a few moments here after the break.

So stick around folks. We’re going to be right back.

All right, everybody. Welcome back to part two of this episode of the MSP chat podcast sponsored by our friends at super ops. And we are in fact joined by this week’s spotlight interview guest, Erick. Juan Fernandez, he is the channel chief at Super Ops. And we’re going to have a very interesting conversation with him about some of his thoughts.

He has some far reaching, some pretty deep thoughts about the future of the managed services industry, the mindset and the tool set changes. That MSPs need to make to keep up with trends in the market. And we’re going to get into that with the Juan in just a moment here, but first Juan, welcome to the show.

Juan: Hey, it’s good to be here guys. Thanks for having me. It’s always a great pleasure to be around wonderful folks and rich it’s been a long time man. So i’m really happy to be back on with you and Erick It seems just like yesterday my friend.

Erick: Yep. Yep. It sure does. I mean we keep on going It’s great to have you on one Awesome to be here.

Rich: What some folks in the audience might not know. So when a typical vendor executive comes to me and says they want to talk about the mindset and tool set change that MSPs need to make. Don’t necessarily know how qualified they are to have interesting thoughts about that. But you’re a very different case one because you’re working at super ops now, but you have a very interesting, very relevant, long background in the industry.

So before we get into that. Conversation topic. Just tell folks who are new to you a little bit about your background before you came to Super Ops.

Juan: Yeah. And Rich, thanks for that. I think that we all start somewhere, right? I started off at a lonely place called the AOL help desk back in the early nineties and through my entire career, I’ve been an engineer all the way up into building my own MSP.

First off, I built a brake fix IT company and positioned there for exit. And realize that it wasn’t exactly the best way to go in terms of what I was trying to accomplish. And so came back in an industry several years later in 2015 and fired off an MSP where I went zero to 20 million in six years building a scalable, repeatable process.

Really just, iterating around those. And then of course, I’ve had the pleasure to be able to exit that successfully and be able to help the community by, Writing books like the MSP owner’s handbook and just being a big contributor to helping people understand like the mechanics of managed services.

So it’s been a great honor to be a part of that, be part of the understanding and then also be able to share.

Rich: And I can also tell folks that back when I was the executive editor at channel pro magazine, you were always one of my. Thought leadership go tos anyway was very intrigued to have this conversation with you.

One last thing though because we haven’t actually, this episode is sponsored by Super Ops. We haven’t actually talked about Super Ops on the show yet. So just give folks a quick little overview of what you guys do.

Juan: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that everybody is starting to see a future that looks very different in the terms and terms of what we’ll be managing into the future.

And super ops saw a lot of that vision as well. And so when you think about the tools that are available to us today they don’t look the same as they will and years to come. And so super ops is one of those first forays into an all inclusive RMM. PSA documentation, automation, as well as project management, quoting, billing, stitch together with AI platform.

And it’s definitely revolutionary in terms of how we do business and really excited to be a part of it.

Erick: Juan, we’ve known each other for many years. We’re colleagues. We’re friends. We, I appreciate your thought leadership. I appreciate your focus on helping MSPs. We share that between ourselves and we’ve watched the evolution of this panel.

And you and I can and Rich, you’ve been there at the forefront as well, reporting on it every step of the way. I want to talk a little bit about the mindset shift that today’s MSPs need to make in order to take advantage of opportunity and do, what they’re supposed to be doing for their clients [00:20:00] and take advantage of the shift in what today’s post pandemic buyers are buying.

The threats. The tools, the processes, like I want to expand the conversation, blow it out and say, Juan, share your vision of where MSPs need to shift their thinking, because it’s a lot different than when you and I had our MSPs.

Juan: Here’s the thing though, right? Anytime that I’m looking in the way I build and the way I build products and companies, I’m always trying to skate to where the puck’s going.

So I pay a lot of attention to what’s coming. I remember talking about the millennial marketplace back in 2013, and in thinking about what would be happening in the future. And, when I built my MSP, a lot of it was built on a remote. Enabled workforce. Like I started that in 2015 with the whole launch of X as a service and this new method of delivering products and services in a combined methodology.

I think when we start to think about the managed services era, like there’s a new definition of. the modern managed, right? And again, when I, me and Matt Lee and Wes Spencer and Marnie Stockman decided to write the sassy edition of the MSP owner’s handbook, there’s a reason why we, I decided to do that is because it was software as a service and security.

But why? And we want it to be funny about it. And I think that as we start to think about where we’re headed as a, as an industry, I talked about a business operations as a service methodology, and that is we’re not managing the same things. We’re not even blowing dirt out of computers anymore.

I was there and I hated it. And here we are. We’ve moved ourselves into this, everything as a service methodology into this different managed era. Now this remote workforce. And when you think about what do our customers buy, right? I always look at like my business may be operational today for the modern customer, but I want to be thinking about where my money’s coming from tomorrow.

And I think that to your point, Erick, we have to be thinking about that evolution of change. Like we were pressure cooked into that over the last 10, 15, 20 years. But in the short term, in the pandemic, we got compressed greatly in terms of how we needed to think and evolve. And now with AI on the forefront, we realized like, Oh, we may need to be shifting quite a bit.

And I don’t think that, I think those pressures are actually helping us move faster because I see a lot of people adopting new technologies and I see them adopting new cybersecurity temperatures and implementation at tactics. And I see them helping their customers move forward. But I think that Not everybody’s doing that.

I, there is an era of, Hey, this good enough is good enough. But again, I think we have to start opening our minds to the reality that what we do today, isn’t something we’re going to be doing tomorrow. And that’s where I think the mind shift chain has to be. That’s where the door has to be unlocked.

The key you have to turn that key and you have to open that door up just enough to peek through it and say, Oh yeah, that, that future is. Not the same one I’m standing on now. That house is a modern house that I walk into and everything works. The lights come on, the temperature’s right. My blanket that I like is there.

The couch conforms to me. It is not the era that we live in now where we’re actually having to hand build that stuff and create those environments. So it’s just a very different different view into the future, but I’m glad that a lot of people are opening. And again, I think we still need to do more of that.

Erick: Juan you gave me a blast from the past moment when you mentioned blowing dirt out of PCs. I don’t know about you, but we actually had that in our early break fix agreements before we transitioned into, an MSP, right? We actually said, this is, this is what we’re going to do on a regular basis.

We’re going to blow. I appreciate you for reminding me of, where we’ve, how far we’ve come so far. Thank you for that that shared, memory. You mentioned a lot of things there, and I want to unpack a couple. Sure. You talked about AI, and I think that there’s these two camps.

AI as being a, an opportunity, but AI coming with a lot of risk. And we start seeing, we’re starting to see this shift in the adoption of AI with it’s being integrated into some of the platforms that we are using as MSPs in the industry. It’s being integrated into the SaaS applications that our customers are using that we now have to elevate.

Our maturity level to embrace this. So as you said, skating to where the puck is going, we’re seeing this adoption of AI. What about that specific disruptive technology makes it so important for MSPs today to think about it and how would you guide them? To say, look, this is how you need to [00:25:00] evaluate this.

There’s risk, but there’s opportunity. And this is where the fuck is going to be. And you need to let go of some of this, I would say historical thinking about what you deliver as value to your clients and leverage this as an opportunity. What would you say to that?

Juan: Yeah, I’m all about the new value equations.

And I’m always thinking about that. And, I talked about building my business as. A profitable, scalable business, right? I focused on the things I was going to make money with to understand the talent that I needed to understand the customer needs, wants, fears. And I really was very focused on those things.

But what I, one of the things that I don’t think a lot of people pick up is that I also was extremely tempered in my approach because I did not move until I was ready to move. And I cautioned a lot of MSPs. I was just speaking in Canada about this, where I said, it’s not about the technology. It’s about your program and your process for the success of that.

One of the biggest challenges I think we’re stepping into this with is that we’re actually running with the torch lit and ready to go into a grass field. That’s been dry for many years. And it’s just a chance that we’re going to kick a rock that we can’t see. And that whole field is going to light on blaze.

And that’s the thing that I’m worried about is that when we think about the MSPs that aren’t ready to adopt this. If we touch it, we broke it, we bought it, right? We got to remember that. And if you’re implementing products and services that have these connotations and you don’t have security policy process and procedure to protect or educate those customers on those, can you be a liable for it?

And I’m always a very big person about liability. I waited two years past the bubble to implement cybersecurity into my stack because I didn’t have the process. I didn’t have the contracts. I didn’t have the insurance. I didn’t have the team trained up. I didn’t have the talk track for my sales team.

I didn’t have the customer understanding or the penetration modeling. I didn’t know why everybody wanted me to do it. I heard it. Everyone said you should do it. And I said, But I’m not going to do it until I’m ready as a business owner. And this is where I actually cautioned my customers against doing things too soon, and actually had a tempered approach on how I approach it.

And that’s where I think we’re at right now with AI. Everyone’s got a dirty little chat, GBT secret. Everybody’s used it. Everyone’s touched it. We’ve all put our hand on the stove. We may not have gotten burned. So it’s Oh, maybe I should touch it again. I hear a lot of people using it in a very interesting way.

I’m afraid of the way that they’re using it too. And because of that what I hear them saying is it’s very attractive and it’s doing all these things for me. And I’m like, Are you measuring the liability you’re ingesting by touching that every single time? That’s where I think we really have to start considering the slowdown approach.

Hold on wait, This bridge isn’t built yet and we’re ready to drive across it. You guys sure about that? And this is where, vendors again, like us again, we have AI implemented it. The one of the reasons you haven’t seen like drastic explosions of AI within our platform, because we’re being very careful on how we approach it.

We’re addressing it. We’re looking at it from multiple ways. What we don’t want to do is allow the technology to overrun it in a way that is. a disadvantage to our customer. And we have to be thinking about that. When you’re implementing those types of thing, I’ve seen so many people roll out copilot to their customers that didn’t have the standard security protocols in place and permissions, even the simplistic aspect of permissions.

And yet now they can browse all of the data of the company and search for payroll data. Like I’ve seen this play out very simply, like very quickly. At just a simple little checkbox of enabling something and not knowing the full impact of its design. And this is where I think we have to really re educate ourselves on, Okay, hold on a second.

What can this, everything of this thing do? Not just to improve me, but what should I be careful of? And that’s where I think we have to think a little about our

Rich: I, I want to come back to AI in just a moment, but first I want to ask, Cause I set this up as a conversation about the the new mindset and the new tool set that MSPs need to have or think about implementing.

So what is it about today’s typical MSP tool set that maybe makes it a less than ideal fit for the modern managers you call it the new kind of approach to serving MSP customers.

Juan: Yeah, I think let’s just look at like whenever I’m looking for a tool to fix a problem, right? I know I have a problem.

Like I don’t just go randomly looking for a tool with a problem that I don’t know I have. And this is where I think we live is we live inside of problems. And when we look for the solutions, like there has, the technology hasn’t been here to be able to solve some of these problems and now we’re seeing, okay let’s take that.

Let’s take that pair of pliers and try to use it like a hammer and see if this works like a hammer, right? And this is where because we’re trying to still solve some of the problems of the way that we’ve built our businesses And we’re looking for [00:30:00] opportunities like easy buttons to just wow man hey I could just push this and it tells me everything I need to know.

That’s cool But you still need to know what it’s broken over there. It could tell you there’s still a problem, but you still got to fix that problem. It’s making you aware of something, but this is where I think we have to be, thinking about how we use the tool. I can tell you as a mechanic on my spare time building cars, I can tell you that I’ve used a pair of pliers like a hammer.

I’ve used a ratchet like a hammer, right? I’ve used a hammer like a pair of pliers. Like it’s just, it’s not the right tool for the right job. And so now that we’re starting to see where does this tool actually fit in our stack? We’re trying it in all these different areas to see. And we’re not quite paying attention to how we’re trying to use this tool.

But I will say, it has its advantages because I’ve seen a number of them. And again, as much as it’s attractive to say, okay, my God, that’s so worth it. It’s Whoa, hold on a second. What else can it do? Because if it can do that, like, how is it touching everything else? Let’s just stop for a second and make sure.

It’s just it’s a very a cautious approach, but also a very attractive approach, if you will.

Rich: Erick spoke earlier on about the the risk and opportunity around AI. And the interesting thing is as we’re recording this, at least, I’ve been working today on the next post for my Q& A.

blog channel holic about And i’m a sucker for alliteration. So i’ve been saying risk and reward instead of written opportunity, but both of those things are very real for the MSP out there. And you spoke one about some of the very real risks and you’re concerned that if people aren’t aware of them, or if they’re rushing into the market a little bit, they can actually set that dry grass field of fire and so on.

What, for the MSP in our audience, who’s thinking, I know I need to be moving in this direction and my clients Want me to be moving in the direction of being their AI consultant AI trusted advisor, but I don’t want to do it irresponsibly. I don’t want to do it in a way that’s going to expose me in my business.

How should MSPs be thinking about that? That, trade off.

Juan: I think it comes back to vendor due diligence, right? Understanding your approach to the market, understanding your approach to products, understanding your approach and your story. We talked about this many years ago on stage.

As a matter of fact, we talked about due diligence rich in terms of how you should be thinking about the way you approach vendors and the way you look at things we were looking at from a cyber security lens back then. But here we are again in the same nuance, right? What’s the story that we’re telling our customers?

Can I make money at it? Are there reasons that I should be doing this? One of the big ones is, and this is a huge risk is we’re so excited about AI right now. One of the risks that I also see it posing is what is making our employees feel like and the softer side of AI because we’re so excited about what it can do and my God look like he can do all these things that just happens to be my job, right?

And that’s making employees feel really weird right now. And we’re not paying attention to how that’s making the people around us feel because now we’re so excited about it as business owners that it’s going to solve our problems officially. And we’re forgetting about the people that got us here. And so thinking about how you’re going to upscale those staff are they ready to support these types of things?

All of these have to be measured. And if you’re not ready to do those things again, testing putting them in the sandboxes and understanding ways that these can actually be advantages and thinking, okay, Hey, this is how we could use it. Great. How do I make this something that I can translate to my customer, a program around it?

products and services that are augmented to allow them to have that business operations as a service modeling. I think that’s the ways that they can actually start learning about it. Again, ingesting information, following great folks like yourselves here that talk a lot about it, that are actually going into the four, a you’re digging deep into these topics and saying, Hey, what is it?

Give me the value add, like, how do I, what, like, how does this make sense? How are you securing it? How are you dealing with it, vendor? We get a lot of that, right? So I think that all those things combined, I think education is like another big thing is it’s just understanding what it can do.

Erick: And I want to tag in on this beer. It’s a real, it’s a real challenge, right? When we get excited about a disruptive technology that we feel can help us scale massively, can help us be much more profitable, much more efficient. And you made a very clear kind of, call out and audible that says, Hey, what about the people that it can potentially disenfranchise if we don’t?

address this head on [00:35:00] because at the end of the day, we all know that every organization’s most valuable asset are its people, the teams that support the organization, right? So, there’s an opportunity, but then we talk about risk and we think, Oh, it’s the risk of where’s the data stored?

What is AI? Does it have access to how can invite us? Is it trustworthy? Is it making up stuff? But the real risk, that you’ve just uncovered it, that is happening right now is the potential impact to the team, to the people, and not only for the MSPs team, but for our clients, users as well, right?

So is there a way to leverage AI in a way that allows us to Identify where our teams are at risk and then, put together some successions, planning, some strategies that let the team know that they are much more valuable than the activities that the AI, that we’re going to be implementing AI to do, giving them more opportunity to grow within the organization, or it’s incumbent upon the MSP business are themselves to say, Oh, I have a plan.

Because we’re being so efficient, we’re becoming more profitable, becoming more competitive. We can now get you team trained up to do more high valued services and be more valuable to us and to our clients. Those are the kinds of things that I think about when we’re talking about this particular challenge.

What do you think?

Juan: I will say again, back to how you’re assessing products, I implemented this into my process early on and the way that it worked was. Every individual was required to own some process in the company, and that was their primary stake to their worth in there, and we measured those things based on how things flowed through that section of the machine.

And one of the things that we would continuously do in our vendor diligence process was identify products and services that we were interested in looking at. And internally, there would be a champion of those products, an individual that would take that and go and learn and find the competitors and do a whole analysis on it and come back and present it to the team.

And they would present it in a way that it was meaningful for all of us. It would address all of the business goals, visions, and also mechanics of the way we function. And we would make an assessment based on that and say, okay, this is something we want to pursue. So let’s make it a larger group and then let’s ingest this and see, and we’ll vote as a team.

If this is something that we want to do. Again, I was making everybody a part of that decision because I actually cared about the people that were working there. It the tough part is that we often don’t do that, right? We don’t take time to actually allow the employees to make the decisions of the business.

We make the decisions and say, you’re going to do this, right? Okay. And that’s a very dangerous place to be. The beauty is that again, light at the end of the tunnel, just like we saw in the pandemic, we have an ability to shift our mindset and our businesses at any point. So allowing those individuals to feel empowered and get the education and understand those methods.

Again, I’m helping upskill them at the same time, but also making responsible for the implementation of that product. And then it’s a team sport, right? Look guys, you, we all decided as a team that we were going to do this. So let’s go together. Now, here’s how we’re going to address employee issues.

Here was how we’re going to address education issues. Here’s how we’re going to address customer issues. Here’s how we’re going to address cybersecurity and compliance and other issues. And it brought the whole thing together to make those decisions. So to your point, Erick, there is a way to do it again.

Mine may not be the perfect way. I’m just giving you a, for instance, and how but I think it’s important for us to consider a shift in our mindsets in the way we operate our business. To ingest these things, to operate these things, to take care of the things that are important to us, that got us to the place that we’re at again that’s my take on that.

Erick: No, I appreciate that one. And you alluded to having a process, a due diligence process, like an R and D process, making, taking one of your team members and making them the owner. Of that evaluation. There is a lot of, concern in some of the MSPs that I talk to, that we all talk to, about the, and I think Rich alluded to earlier, giving the tools themselves too much autonomy, and you even mentioned, Juan, the risk in that.

It’s oh, click through. Click the easy button, set it, and forget it. Is that when you’re evaluating tools and the processes and even vendors that, that you’re looking to bring on board, how much of the conversation centers around, or the scorecard or evaluation [00:40:00] process centers around the guardrails that we want to ensure that we put into place when we bring on a tool and whether that’s a, a pilot, a POC, something that we’re testing.

And then enrolling it out over time. So how do you square the requirements of that awareness among the team as we’re evaluating doing our due diligence here? Because like you said, a lot of MSPs are looking for that. Quick, easy, flip the switch, and then I can go fishing, right? And it’s not that at all.

It actually is introducing more risks. Can you give us a little deeper look at how, some of the requirements might be before we start, opening up permissions and giving a platform that has, that, that can do everything. Read it more like a firewall and just open up ports as we need them,

Juan: again, and I think you’re, if you, if I can hear what you’re saying, right? And I love what I hear because what I hear is implementation of best practice. And that comes back from solid foundational learning. And I think that when you, where we’re at right now and the biggest thing I see in, and one of the concerns that I have is I see a varying array of MSPs.

I see those that are in practice that have a practice and have best practice. So if I split these up into three different arenas, I can tell you the ones that I’d scare me the most. And that’s the ones that are just hitting the easy buy. And they’re like, Hey, It’s worked this long so far. I think I’m just going to keep tapping my, just clicking my way to success here and hope that everything goes well.

While you got the best practice arena, which again, if you are coming back to the implementation of security controls, policy, procedure, compliance aspects of our world that we live in we’re going to be way more tempered in our approach, right? Our vendor due diligence is going to be like very differently from.

I’m just going to touch it because I didn’t get burned the last time and I’m going to keep touching it because it’s like, ah, I don’t know how far I can go, but Hey, I’m making money at this. This is what scares me, right? Is that we have a lot of MSPs that are coming in that are they’re saying, Hey, look, this is the easiest I can get in here.

I can get in here fast. I can do these things. I can deploy this stuff automatically. And I can actually just go to market with this managed service mentality. When in fact, we’re running a little faster, like we aren’t building a foundation of secure, compliant arenas and best practice aspects.

Like we’re just grabbing stuff off the shelf and says, Hey, look, it fits. Let’s go. And so for me, I think that. My caution to the industry is that we should probably focus on best practice. We need to be thinking about how we’re actually doing this in a methodical, secure mannerism. Because if we don’t, we’re going to get bit by it.

We saw like in the last years of cybersecurity coming in and just punching us in the face. It’s because we weren’t doing it guys. Like it just, it was, we weren’t doing it. We were just like, ah, it’s good enough. We don’t need a heart in the firewall. Who? Least privilege, ah, let’s just let it happen until something happens, right?

We’re good, command and control is fine. If I put a fire on the outside, the inside doesn’t have to be secure, it’ll be fine. They’ll never get through it. Danger zone, right? That slip is a slide all the way back to the beginning. And that’s where my concern is that this thing, Without security controls around it, it’s just going to wreck environments.

And it’s, that’s where I think we have to step cautiously, right? We have to be very poised in our approach to really start thinking about best practices, implement those things as a solid foundation. Cause my, my, my fear is that there’s just going to be this huge bubble of really quick success with really fast failure and we’re going to have to fix it.

So I’m hoping that we slow down a minute and actually. Go with best practice on this first, at least this first 10 miles into the journey.

Erick: I love what I’m hearing one. And you’re talking about, setting yourself up for controlled, sustainable growth, even if it’s, but controlled sustainable growth that it can build rather than, firing first and emulator and having to stop and start because you’re running into roadblocks all the time.

It’s not the recipe for good business building, is it?

Juan: I, you can sell a lot of things really quick, right? And if I automated, I could create an AI machine that could sell like Tons of product overnight. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be sustainable, but it’ll look cool. And that’s what we have to be very cautious of is like our motivations behind what it is we’re trying to accomplish here.

And my hope is that it’s to better the world that we live in more than anything. And so,

Rich: It occurs to me listening to you guys talk about this too, that there is a larger lesson in there as well. In terms of being cautious, if you’re an MSP about getting into that good enough mindset, because it’s, it was security and now it’s AI. We don’t know what it’s going to be next, [00:45:00] but it will be something else next.

You need to be watching out for that, whatever that is. And be ready, anticipated, be ready for it. Be flexible enough to adapt to it. If we want to talk about a mindset for the modern MSP, it really just has to be keeping up with the pace of innovation and incorporating that into how you operate internally and what you sell your customers as well.

One always a pleasure speaking with you. We thank you so much for joining us on the show for folks in our audience here who want to get in touch with you, want to learn more about super ops. Where would you direct them?

Juan: Absolutely. You’re more than welcome. Anybody that would like to have a conversation, if I can be of value to anybody, always feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn.

I live there by all means. But if you’re interested in taking a good look at super ops shoot me an email, Juan. Fernandez at super ops. com. I’ll make sure to get you taken care of and walk you cautiously into the future of managed services. Very good.

Rich: Thank you very much, Juan. Folks Erick and I are going to take a quick break now.

When we come back on the other side, we’ll share a few final thoughts about the conversation we just had with Juan Fernandez. Maybe have a little fun, wrap up the show, so stick around. We will be right back. Alright,

ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to part three of this episode of the MSP Chat Podcast, sponsored by Super Ops. And thank you one more time to Juan Fernandez of Super Ops for joining us. Always great conversation in store for you when you get a chance to pick the brain of Juan Fernandez. And Erick I’ll tell you that, it, it was interesting because this came up during the conversation, and it jumped out at me, and before I had a chance to ask a question about it, you did because it clearly jumped out at you as well.

We had our channel mastered colleague, Charmaine Ignacio, on the podcast with us in a very recent episode, And we were talking with her about what makes great partner programs great. And long story short, she said that the great ones really put people first. It’s about people and relationships and then about all of the other stuff that you expect to get from a partner program.

And sure enough, we’re talking to Juan about what’s important. If you’re running a managed services practice and it’s about putting people first. And so that, that was just very interesting and reinforces a point that’s come up multiple times on the show in recent week.

Erick: Absolutely, Rich. And it’s like I said, during the conversation with Juan is, Engineers like myself, we look at things in, in very black and white terms, we look at, process and protocols and checklists and, everything opposite of kind of the people side of the equation.

And it took me a long time, Rich, to figure out I’m going to get a lot further in life and in my career. If I start working on my people skills and try to become. Less of that quote unquote, people hating engineer and more and more like that welcoming keep male, but people welcoming person. And I’ve got to say, I’m, the person that I was 15 years ago, 20 years ago, and I’m at completely opposite today.

And it is true. You get a lot more, personal satisfaction, you get a lot more. Collaboration, you get a lot more, you know, just opportunity when you are working with people, you’re respecting them, engaging with them, putting their needs first, that go giver mentality where, you’re going to put, that old saying, rich, where if you want to heat, you got to put some logs in the fireplace first.

I really taken that to heart and, it’s something that I still have to work on. It’s not something that’s natural to me, so I can do it. Everybody can do it, I think, right? Because I come from that very black and white, risk averse process data, perspective.

And, I’m much more fulfilled and happy in my life now with the relationships that I’ve been able to build with the people in my life, and the folks that I engage with. And so putting it in the perspective of. How do you get the best outcome, no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s, in, in your own business, with your family, with your vendor relationships, when we’re all focused on what the other person’s needs are first.

Everything seems to work out.

Rich: Yeah, it’s really interesting. You are an engineer, I am not Erick, but we’re both introverts. And, for introverts, it’s not that introverts don’t enjoy people or like people, it’s just harder work. To be around people. And that’s a little bit of of why that, where that engineer mindset you’re talking about comes from.

And I’ve certainly been subject to that. And my [00:50:00] experience has been just like yours as well. Once I got into journalism and I was spending a lot of time. People all day long at conferences and doing interviews and so on. You do actually get better at it. And and I have never, ever regretted.

Basically all the time that I get to spend with with people. People on the road and even on zoom and so on in my job right now has made me you know much more a much happier person it’s made my job as much fun, as it is and so on you know just a few words of encouragement to introverts in our audience as well You can Be the kind of person who puts people first and gets good at having and building relationships with your clients

Erick: There is hope rich

Rich: There is indeed.

There is indeed. And you know what, Erick, that leaves us with time for just one last thing. And this one comes to us from Helsinki, Finland and specifically from a coffee maker there called Kaffa Roastery. Coffee Roastery decided to do something that, as far as I’m aware, no one else has attempted previously.

They were trying to invent a new blend of coffee. And they decided to ask Artificial Intelligence, our good friend Artificial Intelligence, to do the work for them. Now, obviously, there’s a little gimmick value to this that they were taking advantage of. But there’s also a legitimate business reason for doing this, too.

Creating a new coffee blend, apparently, is a very time consuming, labor intensive process ordinarily, and they wanted to see if artificial intelligence could accelerate it. And so they described, if you can believe this, they described to an unnamed generative AI platform, four different coffee beans, four different varieties of coffee, and their flavor profile, and gave the AI some goals in terms of the kind of coffee that they wanted to make, and then just let it do its thing.

And it came back with a blend and by golly, Erick, apparently according to coffee, it tastes pretty darn good. Which is just weird. Because AI really doesn’t taste coffee. It has no idea what anything tastes like. And yet somehow or another, just based on these descriptions and a target in mind, it was able to come up with a coffee blend that is.

Is pretty good according to a coffee maker. It also, I should say created, designed the packaging and came up with the name for this new variety of coffee and the name that the AI came up with Erick is AI conic. You see what the, what they did there? Cute. The whole thing.

Very interesting. Amusing, but also just very interesting, Erick.

Erick: So I’ll chalk that up in the in the category rich of, when I, when AI. That’s it, right?

Rich: Yeah, there were, thank goodness you can imagine what a hallucination based blend of coffee might might taste like, but yeah, this time two thumbs up apparently on on its work and we’ll see if it can do that on a consistent basis. Alright folks that is all the time we’ve got for you this week on this episode of MSP Chat, sponsored by our friends at Super Ops.

Thank you so much for joining us. We’re gonna be back actually just in a few days this time with our regular Friday episode of the program for you. If you are listening to this podcast on audio right now did you know that we’re on YouTube as well? You can go to YouTube, book up MSP chat, find us there.

If you’re watching us on YouTube, but you are into audio podcasts as well, go to wherever it is, you get your audio podcast because you’re going to find us there too, and wherever it is that you do find us, please subscribe, rate, review. It’s going to help other people find the show and enjoy the show. And we.

Thank you for that. This program is produced by the great Russ Johns. He is part of the team along with Erick and me at Channel Mastered. You want to learn more about Russ and how he can help you create a podcast of your own, go to channel mastered. com. And that’s where you’re going to learn all about all the many things channel mastered.

Can do for you as well. Channel mastered has a sister brand called MSP mastered, which is where Erick works with MSPs to help them be more successful in what they do. If you want to learn more about MSP mastered, go to MSP mastered. com. So once again, we thank you for joining us on this show.

We’re going to see a real soon with another episode of it. And until then folks, please remember you can’t spell channel without M S P.