Today I’m talking to Josh Weiss, founder and president of LA Creative Technologies, an MSP based in Los Angeles. Josh shares with us his insights on what clients are truly looking for, the opportunities in advisory services and referrals, and how to start the conversation that will move you from technical fixer-upper to trusted partner.
But first, What’s Going On? MSP consultants Richard Tubb and Karl Palachuk take a look at what’s happening in the world and how it affects MSPs.
What’s Going On
[01:54] AI and machine learning architecture was named one of the emerging job titles for 2018 by the CompTIA IT Industry Outlook report.
[02:16] It’s important to differentiate between the two concepts. Machine learning is a computer science that has to do with machines figuring stuff out without being told. Artificial intelligence is where we see a machine doing something that we think is normally an inherently human thing to do.
[02:48] A lot of what people call machine learning or AI is really just analytics. As the technologies get more and more sophisticated, the lines will become harder to draw.
[03:06] Karl found an article about artificial intelligence in the real estate industry. Real estate is one of those industries that have so much data.
[04:16] The public perception of AI and the actual real-world applications differ. AI is something that will make people’s lives easier in the future.
[04:41] An MSP example includes cloud-based AI-driven threat scanning.
[05:35] The same principles apply to remote monitoring tools.
[06:15] It’s possible to look at all kinds of extra data and for a machine to find correlations in a way a human being can’t.
[06:32] For MSPs, as monitoring systems become more sophisticated, they’ll actually take action on your behalf.
[07:17] There will always be jobs for MSPs, but the jobs will be different.
[07:48] Truly understanding how we design blockchain transactions will be one of the desired skill sets in the future.
[08:15] Manual repetitive tasks will be replaced by robots and cognitive repetitive tasks will be replaced by algorithms.
[09:09] For MSPs, it’s going to be more about pointing the machines in the right direction.
[10:18] Someone needs to analyze trends that machines identify.
[10:53] People prefer chatbots over an actual human on many websites.
[11:40] If IBM’s Watson can win Jeopardy, then AI has moved to a level where there are practical applications.
[12:06] Karl is headed to the ASCII conference in Anaheim. Richard is heading to the Sage Accounting conference. Karl’s roadshow will be in New Orleans in April and Richard will be there.
Interview with Josh Weiss: The Journey from Technician to Business Advisor
[13:34] Today we’re talking about how to move the conversation with the client from a technical level to a business level.
[14:15] What are the business issues companies care about and MSPs need to be tuned into? They include reducing operational costs, improving workforce productivity, and improving product or process quality..
[14:47] So they’re basically looking at how to save money, how to make their people more productive, and how to deliver a better product or service.
[15:30] To find what particular clients want really comes down to not being afraid to ask questions. Genuine curiosity will serve you well.
[16:13] Ask your clients what their biggest challenges are. You might guess but unless you ask, you won’t know for sure.
[18:16] Take a step back and look at the larger context of the organization. Reframe the conversation to include what they’re talking about but also leveraging the larger business context.
[19:26] How to translate high-level business needs into a strategy: Use your knowledge and apply it to what is and isn’t working well for the business.
[20:02] First knock out the emergencies. Then work on making improvements.
[21:22] Taking a broader view of what you can deliver as an MSP. Be a great vendor manager.
[22:59] Only refer the most qualified vendors to your clients.
[24:07] Some clients may not be a good fit. Have the conversation and be willing to refer them to someone they’ll be happier with.
[24:45] It all comes down to curiosity and asking questions.
[25:51] Biggest takeaway when moving from a technical role to an advisory role? Leverage the resources that are out there: blog posts, peers, podcasts. If you have some money, sign up for a service, like a coach. You don’t have to know everything or figure it out on your own.
Links from this episode
What’s Going On
- CompTIA IT Industry Outlook 2018 report
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Real Estate
- IBM Watson: The Inside Story of How the Jeopardy-Winning Supercomputer Was Born, and What It Wants to Do Next
- Sage Summit
- Karl Palachuk’s SMB Roadshow
- Karl Palachuk: Small Biz Thoughts
- Karl Palachuk (Twitter)
- Richard Tubb: Tubblog
- Richard Tubb (Twitter)
- L.A. Creative Technologies (Now part of Logic TCG)
- Josh Weiss (LinkedIn)
- 2018 Top 10 SMB and Midmarket Business Issues and IT Challenges and IT Priorities
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