Speaker 1: Welcome to the JMARK Business Innovation Technology Experience.
Todd: Welcome everybody, again. This is part of our weekly series that we do every week. You never know what we’re going to say, so it’s a surprise to ourselves each and every time. And the topic for today is interesting. The other day, one of our favorite people on the marketing team, who always gets me riled up, sent me an email. And it was regarding an article that was written by another IT company. And the article was talking about what they considered one of the big problems in the industry, big thing that everybody has to watch out for. And I sat there, just banging my head going, “Who on Earth would write this thing?” And I realized that it was actually written by a PR company and they didn’t have the gall to apply the words to an actual person at the IT company. They just instead put the PR firm’s name in the author.
Todd: But we wanted to talk about this because we’re seeing this more and more, and especially with what’s going on with COVID-19 and work from home situations, is there is just this reality that is out of whack with the industry. And MSPs are trying, and I don’t think they’re necessarily purposely misleading people, but they potentially are misleading people. And so that’s what we want to talk about today because it’s got us a little bit riled up and we’re frustrated. And based on the email that we sent yesterday to our list, it has a whole lot of other people frustrated as well, and so that’s the plan.
Todd: So to get this kicked off, the thing I wanted to talk about this article, and then we’ll move on from it, is it talked about how one of the big things that’s wrong right now is that the supply chain is messed up and that that’s what’s so important for institutions to realize that they’ve got to figure out a handle on it. But it was applying the supply chain to services and not to products that potentially could be messed up in the supply chain. The thing is that right now in June of 2020, the supply chain is not the biggest problem right now. That was an issue back in March. The supply chain, there were people needing to buy computers because they were working from home. They needed to deploy resources in different ways. And the issue now though is completely different.
Todd: The issue now is about: How do we get our workforce to maintain this work from home status if this continues? How do we innovate our company to change to this new normal, a better normal, as we’ve been calling it? And how does technology play into that change and innovation? Because it’s all a big ecosystem of change happening right now. So let’s start with that. Jeremy, what you got? I know you’ve got something you want to say. I can see it in your eyes.
Jeremy: Yeah. Well, I was thinking that before we started, I warned everybody that I drank some coffee this morning and I might be a little riled up. I want to know what’s in Todd’s coffee because woo. I got a nerve on fire.
Jeremy: As I’ve been thinking about this topic for the last day or so since Todd asked me to participate in this conversation, I’ve kind of gone full circle on the thought process, is that where I’ve kind of landed, it’s more of a people [inaudible 00:04:31]. They say everything is either a people process or a product problem at a high level. And this article that Todd’s referring to, we’re not going to necessarily dignify who it was and the details of that. But when you see negativity like that-
Todd: Although we really wish we could.
Jeremy: Todd really wants to. I bet he’s got it on a banner. He’s ready to hold it up and show everybody. I think people that try to make it a product problem rather than the people problem that it may or may not be, they’re projecting the problem onto something false. And that comes off as negativity. It comes off… It’s deflection. And in reality, I think that the issue is that if there’s a problem, it’s a people problem. It’s people aren’t adapting. They’re not embracing this better normal. And as I said on one of these videos that we did a few weeks ago, that I was one of these that went into this kind of scared, kind of trepidatious. I’d never worked from home before. I’d never felt like I could be successful working from home. Once I got started, about two weeks into this, I thought, “Well, this is the best thing ever, and I don’t ever want to go back.”
Jeremy: And now that I’ve come down from that and I’m in the middle now because I realized that being productive, being a good employee and being a good manager and being a good service provider has a lot less to do with where you’re doing it and a lot more to do with how you’re doing it. And the use of technology is part of that. And then the partners you pick is an even bigger part of that. We’ve shifted some of the partners that we deal with at JMARK in the last few months because we’ve pivoted from some partners that were great in the old way, the old four months ago way, but they haven’t pivoted with us. So it’s a people thing. You have to constantly be willing to change, and you’ve got to be willing to change fast. And I think that’s why we’re seeing, when we see articles like the one that Todd referred to, I don’t think we’re seeing people who are lying. We’re not seeing people who are trying to throw mud. We’re seeing people who are scared and they don’t know how to react to the fact that things have changed. That’s my opinion.
Todd: Yeah. And I agree that it’s partially a people problem. But when you’re dealing with this change, I mean, you’ve got to look at the facts. I read yesterday that 80%, and I’ve read different things, so don’t take this for face value, but I read yesterday that 80% of people who are now working from home want to remain working from home. And I’ve seen different numbers all over. But still, it’s always a high number. But even the working from home, that’s not even part of the problem here. What we’re really going into is a little bit more of the product problem. And we talked about this a little bit last week. But we have MSPs that are going into this pushing, still trying to push products and still trying to push services that aren’t quite applicable to the company. They’re not really helping them transform.
Todd: And it’s a massive, massive change, and so it really does come back, at the base, it absolutely is a people problem, being willing to change and being able to accept change. But higher up, what’s even a lot harder is to actually make your products adapt to the new normal, the better normal, but that’s hard to do. And a lot of people are failing at it, especially in the IT industry because the IT industry, a lot of people look at this as fix your computer, make it work, blah, blah, blah. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about being successful as an organization, making your employees successful. And that requires a whole different level of products and services.
Jeremy: It’s about driving innovation and that’s the part that I think a lot of these folks are missing is you don’t drive innovation today the same way you did four months ago. You just don’t. And you don’t drive productivity and success the way we did four months ago. And it’s so weird from a history standpoint to think, “Four months ago. That was a long time ago.” Moore’s law just kind of kicked into eighth gear in 2020. Technology will double in power and half in cost every 18 months. It’s doing that about every 18 days it seems like from a change perspective so far this year. And I think a lot of people are just freaked out more than anything.
Speaker 4: Jeremy, that actually makes me… What I’ve been thinking about is we’ve been talking about this article is I suspect that that’s part of the problem is that they’re speaking to a problem that was three months ago, three months in the rear view mirror. They probably started the process of writing that article and getting ready to be published at that time. And to me, that in and of itself is illustrative of the problem, which you talked about innovation, and innovation is the key. If you’re dealing with today’s problem today, you’re not innovating. Innovating, you need to be dealing with tomorrow’s problem yesterday. And that’s what IT companies need to be doing, and that’s how, especially in the environment we’re in now, is they need to be helping their clients anticipate the problems that are coming and anticipate the changes they need to be making today to be ready for tomorrow, which there’s your definition of innovation then and there. And if they’re not, then it doesn’t matter whether they’re trying to be deceptive or whatever. They’re missing the mark in providing the service that is essential to the success of their clients.
Todd: Right. So let’s bring this down to the base level for a second here. So Christina, I wanted to ask you from putting us at the perspective of an end user at an organization, obviously JMARK doesn’t have a management service provider because we are a management service provider. But being if you were at an organization that relied upon a management service provider as an end user, what would you expect?
Christina: I would expect that they would help me be successful in my own rule, and that would look like to me making sure that they get back to me quickly, making sure that they speak to me in a way that I can understand, making sure that my computer is set up with security, things like that.
Todd: Yeah. So I think that’s the basis of where all the productization starts, and when we think about and dissect that a little bit, we’re talking about… Let’s talk about security. A lot of management service providers, they say they’re providing security. They say they’re providing end point security. They say that they’re monitoring 24/7, and they’re not actually doing that. Even more important than what you said, yes, you want them to get back to you in a descent about of time, but you’d prefer to not ever even have to call them.
Todd: You’d prefer that you come in in the morning, you push the power button or wake up and log in, and there’s no issues whatsoever. And that’s what when a company has an operation that is organized in a way where they are monitoring 24/7 and they are doing maintenance and they have developed thousands upon thousands upon thousands of scripts and things that product optimization, they’re all saying they’re doing this but not very many are actually doing it. You talked about security. Patch management is a critical component of security. Every time we go in to do a network assessment on somebody, that’s the biggest problem we find in organizations. And every one of them has an MSP, but we find thousands to potentially tens of thousands of patches that are missing from systems, vulnerabilities all over the place, and that’s part of the product problem and part of the people problem that you’re talking about, Jeremy, because people are doing these things or people are buying these services under the assumption they’re getting done, and they’re not actually getting done. So you’re feeling this false sense of security, this false sense of essentially productivity, and you’re frustrated because something’s not working and you can’t get your job done.
Christina: So how could a business owner know if they’re in that position? How can they know if their MSP is telling them they’re doing these things but they’re not?
Todd: That’s totally a Jeremy question. Totally.
Jeremy: I don’t want to get… So this proves we’re at a talking miss. I didn’t want to go into the patching and all these different things. I mean, these were all the nuts and bolts and the right to play stuff. To me, a lot of this really comes back to recognizing reality in a person or a company’s mindset. Because if your mindset is still around, “I can do patching better than the next guy,” or, “I can take a support call as fast as the next guy,” you’re living in the past. You’re not innovating in today’s new world. Those are the right to play things. That’s like Ford saying, “We have tires.” Yeah, but Chevy doesn’t? I mean, come on. Get with the program. What sets you apart? What’s different? Yeah, you’ve got tires. Cool for you. We all do patching. Do we do it better? Absolutely. We’ll talk about that on a different video.
Jeremy: But that’s really not the… I don’t think the focus of what the crux of this issue is, and that is that if that’s what your IT company is out there totting, ask them… To Christina’s point, how do you tell? But then ask them, “What have you done for other clients to help them get ahead during this COVID, during this work from home situation? How do we help people pivot?” Because that’s where you set apart. That’s where the difference is. It’s not in I patch better. To me, it’s a commodity.
Todd: Right. Yeah, that’s a good point. There’s all of these things that in the end a business owner, a leader, they don’t care about. They don’t care about the patches. They don’t care about all these little things that are happening in the background. They just want it to work, and they just want the… But more so in going off of what you said, right now what people need is guidance. They need a partner with them that will help guide them through this problem and help them to adopt and adapt to the new reality, and that’s where a lot of organizations just aren’t equipped. They don’t have the capacity, MSP’s specifically don’t have the capacity built in to their products to provide the strategic consultative support and the experience of having gone through bad situations to really help organizations succeed and adapt and innovate and be more successful in the future.
Jeremy: I think that’s really where the difference is. Maybe we have to have a fourth paradigm to people, products, process, and product. Maybe it’s more of a perception. How do people perceive reality? Not to get theoretical about the conversation, but if… I think there are some people out there, not just computer companies or MSPs or anybody else, that have failed yet to perceive that there is a new or better normal. That we’re just in some sort of a weird pause and everything will be back tomorrow, and they got their head in the sand. The world’s not going back to the way it was. For those of us who have been in the industry for a long time, this is like 2008 but with an exponential power to it.
Jeremy: 2008, there was a recession. A lot of people lost their jobs. A lot of companies had to cut the bottom lines. It was bad business time. It changed normal because most companies at that point had the mindset of I have 30 employees, 40 employees, 15 employees. I’ll just hire some IT people. I will have this overhead. And once everybody had to meet budget that year and go, “Oh, crap. Where do I cut the cost?” One of the first places was I can outsource IT. I can outsource marketing. I can outsource this. I can outsource that and do it more on a timeshare plan and save money. The paradigm of how our business became accepted within the business community, our business being management services, it took about six leaps forward. And that’s one of the reasons, frankly, that JMARK got… We took a big leap in our success and our growth and our maturity as a company between 2008 and 2010 because we embraced that idea and helped people through that.
Jeremy: I see 2020 as just the next iteration of that. It’s the normal changed. There are people who see it, and there are people who don’t. Those people are coming out of the woodwork right now and showing themselves whether they want to or not. Whether they want to or not I should say.
Todd: And the interesting thing too is we’ve talked about this idea of the better normal. But correct me if I’m wrong, Bax, but I don’t think we’ve ever defined what that means because it’s changing every day. All that we know is we have to innovate, we have to adapt, we have to change. But from the state of reality standpoint, it’s changing on a daily, even sometimes weekly basis. We talk about on marketing, I mean, weekly it’s like this happens, so this has got to change. This happens, so this is got to change. It’s like our entire six week plan went out the gutter, and we totally adapted and changed and modified based on the state that people are in. And I don’t want to make that sound like it’s just a marketing thing. But that’s how services need to adapt in that same situation.
Todd: MSPs are still pushing what they have because that’s what they know what to do. A lot of MSPs do not have the skills to productize new offerings and then to secure those offerings and then to sell them at a margin that will help the client be successful and the organization be successful. There’s just so much complication to that, and it’s this strategy component that touches on the technology, the people, the processes, the perception, the economics, the reality, et cetera that really play into in a time that you need to adapt, who do I want at my side? Somebody who’s learning or somebody who knows how to get there.
Todd: Go ahead.
Jeremy: That’s a really good point, and that just made me… It sparked a thought about when you talk about… Gather my thoughts here. It’s not just about being able to provide the services and do those things. There’s a willingness to do it, and then there’s the ability to do it. One of the things that JMARK has done and we’ve been… My gut was to say we’ve been blessed to do this, and we have. But we’ve also worked our butts off to get there. Is that we’ve got some financial security behind us. We have been doing this long enough that we have infrastructure. We have a proactive team.
Jeremy: A lot of people probably don’t know this. JMARK actually has an IT department within our company that does IT for JMARK. We have a whole department that does proactive work for our other teams. So we have support teams that support the teams that support our customers. That’s infrastructure that we’ve put in place over the years. That has enabled us to step up when times get hard and be able to roll these things directly to our customers and to our clients where other companies, I would say our competition who’s been out there living paycheck to paycheck, going hand to mouth. When the world changes, they can’t pivot like that because they don’t have infrastructure behind them. They don’t have the ability to switch resources without dropping the ball. And we’ve moved some people around. We’ve done some different things. We’ve shifted teams, and it’s all been to shift up and go faster and offer a better product. And that’s all because of history and infrastructure and growth.
Jeremy: I can say that because when I started at JMARK, there were three of us, and if something bad happened and somebody was on vacation, one third of your workforce is gone, you freak out and don’t get stuff. When you’ve got 120 people and somebody’s on vacation and something happens, you just pull somebody over here and you put them over here. You make those calls. I think that’s a big part of what we’re dealing with. The companies that were well established and had good machinery and infrastructure behind them before this started are coming… It’s like the cream rising to the top. They’re becoming known now.
Speaker 4: Jeremy, that’s something I’ve thought about a lot myself in the last day or two when we first brought up this topic for this podcast is that we’re talking about our companies, and we mentioned this in the first program MSPs, that some of the problems that we’re talking about are not because the MSPs are being purposely deceptive or malicious or anything like that. It’s simply a fact of not being prepared to solve the problems that their customers have and not being prepared for the moment in time that we’re living in. It comes back to where the road that’s paved with good intention goes, and you don’t want to be on that road. You don’t want to be test case for an MSP that’s trying to swing above their weight and isn’t ready to face these problems. You need a partner in order to move your company forward. You need a partner that already has all of that infrastructure in place, all of that knowledge and all of that experience that they can say, “Yeah, we’ve dealt with that before. We dealt with it ourselves in our own company. Here’s what we did. Here’s what we learned. Here’s how this benefits you.”
Todd: Yeah. I think you touched upon something that reminded me of a couple things in this article that set me off in the beginning. Two of those things are that we’re talking about is small IT companies and many IT companies right now are essentially trying to adapt, and one of the ways they’re adapting is by offshoring or outsourcing their core service, level one help desk ticket, level two help desk tickets. And that’s really dangerous from a partnership standpoint. Who’s in your computers? Who has access to your systems?
Todd: But that goes into the other part of the article that really bothered me is that they were talking about how you have to have systems and processes in place to manage your IT service centers. And at first, I saw that and I’m like, “Why would you need systems and processes to manage your IT vendors if you vetted them and they actually are doing what they’re supposed to be doing?” Well, I just realized a few minutes ago that if you have IT vendors like them, then you do need processes to manage them because they’re putting themselves in this bucket where they’re essentially trying to get something from you and not providing the huge value that you need at this time of adaptation. Yeah, I guess you better start asking questions.
Todd: I didn’t want this to turn into a big bashing episode because that’s how I feel, and I don’t want it to turn into JMARK is everything; everybody else sucks. We have our strengths and weaknesses just like anybody. But we’re good at the partnership side. We vet our partners. We make sure that there’s nothing from a security standpoint that is going to affect our clients. We do everything we can to get in front of these things so that you don’t have to manage us. If you have to manage your IT vendor, there’s a problem.
Jeremy: I’m involved in a lot of first conversations with prospects who are looking for a new IT vendor, and one of the conversations, one of the complaints that we hear a lot is from the IT point of contact, sometimes that’s an IT director, sometimes it’s a CFO. It’s different positions. But one of the most common complaints that we have from people who use an IT or an MSP today is, “I spend so much time managing them. Why don’t I just do it myself?” And I think that speaks to your point. The way we have that conversation, it comes back to a maturity conversation. You can’t just hand somebody the keys to your network, a vendor, any vendor, even JMARK and say, “I trust you implicitly. Go forth and do well.”
Jeremy: The term that we always use is you have to vet your vendors, which is what Todd was just talking about, but we pull out the old the term Ronald Reagan used back in the ’80s, trust but verify. You should be in a position that you trust what that is going to do what they say. The way I was taught was tell them what you’re going to do, do what you told them, then tell them what you did. Every time. They need to do that. You need to trust that’s going to happen, and then you need to independently verify it on your own, on an interval in which you feel is appropriate. If you can’t do that, if that doesn’t just make you go, “Yeah, that’s what we do,” there might be a problem. It’s probably something you should think about.
Jeremy: We had a question on there, “What’s the best way to vet a MSP other than looking at their website?” I hit that earlier, but I think that’s important thing that I would just like to hit really fast. I really like the idea… I can speak from JMARK’s point of view because we have clients that give us permission, and we have clients who told us, “Please don’t use us as reference because privacy concerns.” They can’t have their information out there like that, and we totally respect that. But the vast majority of our clients will tell us… We ask them. We ask somebody the question about our services, can we have them contact you? And the vast majority say sure, and that way it’s not a canned group of five people who truly love us and will always give us a positive reference. I would ask a specific question. Don’t ask them for a reference. Don’t ask that company for a reference. But ask them, “Who’s somebody you help with this problem before? Who is somebody that you’ve helped overcome and actually grow through the stay at home time? Who’s somebody that you helped through the 2008 recession who’s still with you and can speak to that?” [crosstalk 00:31:56].
Todd: Or some other disaster.
Jeremy: Or through another disaster, absolutely, who maybe had a fire or a data loss or something like that, then we get them through that.
Jeremy: Hypothetical flood. Yeah. So that’s how I would answer that question to the one that was on the website. Ask a specific question of, “Give me a reference of somebody who you helped with X, Y, or Z.”
Todd: I think that goes into what you were talking about earlier with the idea of the right to play. There’s a lot of what MSPs do that will be listed in agreements and listed in marketing material that you should expect for them to do. You should expect for them to have a fast response time. You should expect for them to be managing your network and your systems and optimizing them and selling patches and supporting them and different things. And going back to that vetting, there’s also patch management and there’s patch management, and there’s monitoring and there’s monitoring, and there’s SLAs and there’s SLAs. That’s what makes it so hard in the industry is because you look at these things, and it’s like well, they do this and they do this and they do this and they do this. That’s what’s so important with vetting your MSPs because you got to ask the questions.
Todd: I wouldn’t want to say that a business owner or leader should take the time to learn all the ends and outs of IT because that’s not what you’re there for. You have your strengths and your talents that you do. But honestly those are things that the people you’re vetting should come up with. This is what we’re doing that’s different. This is how we are different. This is how we were doing monitoring. This is how we’re doing patch management. This is how we help you along. This is the reporting that we provide so that you know what we did. This is… You can go on and on. But I think that’s part of that vetting question and that right to play is they go hand in hand. There’s all these things that everybody’s doing. But you got to dig a little deeper and really understand are they truly the same because that’s not always, that’s generally not the case.
Speaker 4: I think we keep talking about vetting, and I think you can speak to this, Jeremy, too. But there’s also a point where your MSP, and especially when you’re looking for a new MSP, they should be vetting you as well because we do that. I mentioned before, IT service providers who want to play in a bigger league than they’re ready for and that’s something we take very seriously that we want to make sure that we’re a match for anybody that we’re going to serve. That we’re not going to get in over our heads. That hey, this might be a great company, a great opportunity, but we can’t serve you effectively the number of users you have or vice versa, the opposite way down. I think that’s something that gets overlooked as well. If an MSP is out there just trying to take on any client that comes to their door, then they’re going to run into problems because they’re not going to be prepared.
Jeremy: Yeah. That’s a question that somebody asked me. It’s been a year or two ago, and I appreciated the question. This was on a first appointment with somebody we’d never talked to before, and they asked to that point, it was introspective because they said, “Who’s somebody that wanted to do business with you, or tell me of an instance where somebody wanted to do business with you and you told them know.” I had lots of answers. Oh, there’s been lots of times where we didn’t have experience with the particular vertical market that they’re in or industry that they’re in. There have been times when they were frankly too big, and we wouldn’t have been able to service them the way that we want to service them because we don’t want to be… A mature company does not want to be their providers largest customer. That’s not a good position to be in. They were like, “Okay. That’s cool because the last guy that was in there getting interviewed said, ‘Nobody. If you had problems, we’ll take care of it.'”
Jeremy: It’s like the old joke about the vacuum salesman coming up to the door and saying, “I’ve got a vacuum cleaner. I’d love to demo it for you.” And the lady says, “Well, we’ve got hardwood floors.” “That doesn’t matter. I’ll bring it and test it.” “Aren’t you listening? I have hardwood floors. I don’t need a vacuum cleaner.” Some people just don’t listen, and they think that… Using the analogy from last time, if you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Sometimes it’s not the case.
Christina: Yeah, that should definitely be a red flag. I have a question, something Todd, that you mentioned in your email. So how can a company keep from being tracked by a mediocre provider?
Todd: Well, I think it goes into what we’ve been talking about. That’s essentially what we’ve been talking about. To summarize what Jeremy said, one of JMARK’s greatest strategies over the course that we’ve been in business is the ability to say no, and that means no to some clients and no to some partners and no to certain products. But specifically it’s going into the details. There’s a thing we’re developing where, and we’ve seen this… And Jeremy, you can probably play into this a little bit. But there are times when a leader will ask their IT partner or their IT person, generally it’s an IT person that it’s in turn to the organization. And they won’t get the information because there’s a personal agenda that the IT person might have, CIO in some cases. In a sense, they’re holding the business hostage, and we’ve talked about that in other episodes. I don’t want to go too detailed into that.
Todd: But don’t just accept things. Ask questions. It’s digging into the details of a contract. It’s digging into the details of services and asking questions and asking those questions that Jeremy talked about and people who have helped you through. Understanding what they’re going to do for you.
Todd: We all have a lot to do right now. There’s no doubt about it. Everybody, business leaders are scrambling to try to adapt and innovate and do different things. For JMARK, we’ve been, it’s just meeting after meeting, things after… There’s just so much going on, so many initiatives. And I know that other business leaders have that same problem or same situation. But we’re talking about the success of an organization. We’re talking about the success of individual people in an organization. We’re talking about the future for individuals, for individual families, for individual kids, for retirement plans.
Todd: And when there’s so much at stake as a business leader, it’s your responsibility to ask the questions, to understand how an MSP is going to help and move things forward. And there are times when we have companies come to us and, like we’ve talked about, we’ve said no. The best solution for you is to keep your IT guy, or the best solution for you is to hire us to do this little part and keep your IT guy to do this part, or the best solution for you is to get rid of the numb skull that thinks he’s an IT guy and outsource this stuff to us. It’s not about us. It’s about how concerned is your MSP about your success and about your organization’s success. I think that’s the most important thing.
Jeremy: I would add to that that most people who are going to be having their conversation are at a certain level within their organization. In our world, they’re typically going to be the business owner. They’re going to be a CFO. They’re going to be a CEO, a VP of something or another. You don’t get to that position within a company without typically being able to smell BS from a mile away. The rule of thumb I’ve always been taught is if you ask a question and you get an answer that feels like it’s very on the surface or might be evasive, go into three year old mode and ask why. Do that three times. You get three why’s in and you still don’t have an answer, okay, they’re good. The BS meter should probably go off. That’s when you start digging in and that’s when you bring in somebody for a second opinion. Because I know if somebody asks me a question and I don’t always answer the way that they’re… We’re not on the same page at the first time. It takes a couple of why’s or how does that work to get into the meat and potatoes of it. If you get three deep on that and you still don’t have an answer, then it’s probably time to question. As Christina said, am I being lied to? Am I pulling the wool over my eyes?
Jeremy: There’s one competitor that I will obviously not name that luckily we’ve been called in many times over the past couple of years because the ownership, the leadership has felt, “You know, I’ve got a bad feeling. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just don’t feel like I’m getting the full story. Everything works. My computer’s turned on every morning. I haven’t been breached. But something doesn’t feel right.” So we dive into it and try to figure it out. Sometimes it’s real, sometimes it’s I help explain what the other guy was trying to convey and everything is good and we move on. But trust your instincts is a really short answer that I would give them.
Todd: I think too something you said that drives me a little crazy, and I know it drives you crazy, Jeremy, is that going back to what I was saying, IT is so critical right now. The technology is so critical because it is a massive primary enabler to create innovation and adapting your organization to a better normal. And when you have an organization where so much is on the line, where individuals are on the line, people, people’s families, why the heck do you delegate that responsibility down to a low level tech person in the company to vet the technology vendor that’s going to potentially drive you to the next level of success?
Todd: And so many times we’ve seen this where a business owner or an executive will delegate this down, a CFO will delegate it down to an IT director, and the IT director has a totally different agenda in mind than a CFO will. So I don’t know want to point the finger too much at leaders because I know business owners, business leaders have a lot going on. There’s no doubt about that. But don’t use that as an excuse to not create success in the organization. Don’t use that as an excuse to save you some time because the time it takes to or the time that you will lose in hiring a bad vendor is almost immeasurable. I mean, you can blow thousands, if not millions of dollars. You can put your organization at risk. It can all be bad.
Jeremy: I’ve actually on a couple of occasions been called in to talk about our services and walk into their meeting, and we’re meeting with the receptionist because the receptionist buys office supplies. The process of talking about IT services is viewed with the same weight and loftiness as what brand of legal pads to buy and what vendor you’re buying from. It is baffling because the weight of how important choosing a good IT vendor is should not be evaluated under the circumstances. It’s not just another commodity to be purchased.
Todd: Yeah. And part of the blame with that honestly goes back to IT vendors and MSPs because they set the expectation that they are a commodity. They set the expectation that they’re an expense. They haven’t made the case or even shown the value of what they can do for the organization and how they can sit at the table and help the organization strategically to move forward. That’s part of what we started out talking about here is just the idea that MSPs are out of touch, and now so more than ever.
Jeremy: The thing that just made me think of, whether you love him or hate him because he’s got a personality that could swing either way. But think about Elon Musk and Tesla. Automobiles have become commoditized. They’ve been around for 100 years, and you’ve got SUVs, you’ve got midsize sedans, and you’ve got station wagons and minivans and trucks and big trucks and little trucks. Every vendor makes something that fits into that category, and then it’s a raise to the bottom. Who’s cheapest, who’s got the best financing, and they’ll add in a new trinket every couple of years that everybody will follow in. It is the definition of a commodity, and the first person in my opinion to really come in and change that paradigm was Tesla or Elon Musk with Tesla. It’s a completely different vehicle. And it’s not about a race to the bottom. It’s not about how cheap can it be. It’s not a standard car. If you’ve ever been in one of those things or have somebody put the pedal to the medal, you’ll realize this is not a car. This is a freaking space ship. That’s the mindset of it.
Jeremy: I draw the correlation because it’s really easy, Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Kia, every other vendor out there that makes cars have allowed themselves to be commoditized. It took somebody standing up and saying, “I’m not playing in that game. I’m going to make a vehicle, and I’m not going to play that game. I’m not going to be commoditized like these other guys. I’m different.” I think you’re right, Todd. I think that we as an industry have done it to ourselves by allowing ourselves to be pushed to a commodity.
Speaker 4: One thing I just want to mention real quick is, for listeners out there because I think we’re talking about these things and we’re talking about businesses that want to innovate. I think that sometimes people hear that word innovate and think that, “Well, that’s not me. I’m not trying to reinvent the car.” They think the innovation means these big huge leaps forward, but we’re talking about innovation in the context of your business and what helps you innovate to the next level where you’re moving your business forward and succeeding and serving your clients better. In the context of say my doctor who I’ve talked to a couple times since things started, and they realized that telehealth was something that was on the radar and they’d done a little of it. But when COVID-19 happened, they realized that innovation for them was figuring out how to make that work and make that successful in that context. It might just be a small step for you, but if it makes your business more efficient, more productive, if it helps you serve your clients better, then that’s the innovation that really matters.
Todd: Yeah. And I think that these terms innovation and digital transformation, Jeremy, you talked about this at the beginning, they’ve taken on new meanings right now. Innovation is survival. It’s like you have to innovate. And we’re seeing it all around us. The organizations that aren’t innovating are the ones that are going to struggle. You’re right, it doesn’t have to be a Tesla level innovation, big massive changes. But sometimes it’s a new system that improves the connectiveness inside the organization. Sometimes it’s a new product, a new service. In all of that innovation, the thing I think we’ve been trying to convey but maybe haven’t done a good job over the last month talking about this better normal is that technology is the critical piece that will either enable you or hinder you from innovating and potentially from surviving because if you don’t have the right things in place, if you don’t have the ability to be able to take on different types of innovation because your infrastructure is so old or your way of doing things is so old, it’s going to be a huge hindrance.
Todd: I mean, it’s funny. We’ve been talking about digital transformation for years. I gave a presentation on digital transformation at JVS18. I mean, it’s been on a long time. I thought we were way late to the game when I was giving that presentation. [inaudible 00:51:59]. It’s sped up massively. It’s like warp speed in the last three months, and companies that essentially had the right technology, had the right technology vendor, that has the partners that will help them be successful are the ones that are going to overcome and embrace the better normal and still be around afterwards to serve their customers and everything.
Jeremy: The one piece I like about that, Todd, would be it’s about the technology but it’s also about who you surround yourself with. It’s about the partners you choose. There’s a quote out there that’s attributed to John Wooden and the quote is, “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” Don’t hire a yes man. Don’t hire people who will do what you tell them. Hire people that challenge you. Hire people to push those limits out. It’s not just employees. That counts for partners and business consultants all the way around the board.
Todd: Well, I think that’s the perfect place to call this to an end. Appreciate everybody joining us. This has been a pretty interesting conversation. I think there’s a lot of lessons too. I’ll be definitely going back and listening to it over and over.
Todd: For those who want some more information about vetting their IT vendor or want to learn more about this, just send us a message through Facebook messenger or shoot us an email at [email protected] or just contact us through our website at jmark.com. And we have a ton of resources on this, ton of eBooks, ton of videos, and we’re happy to have a conversation as well to talk about this and adapting to the better normal.
Todd: So until then, take care.
Jeremy: Thanks for watching.
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Speaker 1: Thank you for your time, and we look forward to seeing you again.