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In a special, two-part episode of Channel Insider: Partner POV, host Katie Bavoso speaks with Jason Wright, CEO of AVATAR MSP. They explore Wright’s challenges and triumphs since acquiring the company in 2022, including responding to natural disasters and navigating the complexities of the hybrid work environment.

Wright’s journey as a new CEO

In part one of the discussion, Wright shares his journey, exploring the lessons he’s learned since acquiring AVATAR MSP in 2022. He explains his mission to inject a proactive perspective into the managed services industry and describes the significant growth and transformation the company has experienced under his leadership.

A whirlwind voyage in managed services

Wright purchased AVATAR MSP in 2022, marking the beginning of a challenging yet rewarding journey. As a new CEO, he has faced numerous hurdles, including navigating the complexities of the managed services industry and leading the company through significant growth. “It’s been a whirlwind experience,” says Wright.

He quickly learned the importance of being proactive and responsive to clients’ needs. This approach helps in managing day-to-day operations and also preparing for and mitigating the impact of unforeseen events, whether natural disasters or cyberthreats.

Impact of natural disasters

The recent flood in Houston served as a stark reminder of the vulnerability businesses face in the wake of natural disasters. Wright notes, “Number of our clients were down or struggling to continue to run their businesses and so forth.” Wright’s team had to act swiftly to ensure their clients’ operations continued with minimal disruption.

Bavoso acknowledges the significant role of nature in disrupting business operations, often overlooked compared to cyberthreats.

Reflecting on past events, Wright shares how Hurricane Harvey’s historic flooding required his team to physically rescue servers and network equipment from buildings with no power. “We were pulling equipment out by boat, out of certain buildings for our customers,” he recalls. “And so we have brought that same spirit over to AVATAR Managed Services.”

This proactive, hands-on approach has solidified client relationships and underpins the company’s philosophy of being “corporate first responders.”

Listen to the Part 1 of the podcast:

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Proactive approach and corporate first responders

In response to Bavoso’s question about the definition of being proactive, Wright outlines AVATAR’s methodology. He emphasizes the necessity of a well-defined roadmap and frequent touchpoints to ensure customers consistently move towards greater maturity in their IT capabilities.

Wright says, “MSPs really don’t document the journey enough with their clients.” His proactive approach involves detailed onboarding, optimization, and establishing preventive maintenance and monitoring systems. This methodology stabilizes clients’ environments and positions them to handle future challenges.

Proactivity in managed services is about creating a clear, strategic path for clients and continually guiding them toward optimized, secure, and efficient operations.

The hybrid work environment

Bavoso inquires about the impact of the hybrid work model on AVATAR’s operations.

Wright explains that while the business landscape has shifted, with a greater emphasis on managing cloud workloads and securing remote environments, the core responsibilities of MSPs have evolved rather than increased in complexity. “The business isn’t any more or less complex than it was ten years ago, but the priorities have shifted,” says Wright.

He notes that the shift to cloud services has reduced the need for on-premises infrastructure management but has heightened the focus on cybersecurity and risk management.

Wright highlights the expanded responsibilities MSPs now bear in safeguarding against cyberthreats. He outlines the layers of defense required, from basic antivirus measures to advanced solutions like security orchestration and zero-trust network access.

Despite many small and mid-sized businesses not being under specific compliance mandates, Wright advocates for adopting robust security frameworks to ensure a secure and resilient IT environment.

Serving SMB and mid-market customers

Wright elaborates on AVATAR MSP’s target demographic, particularly SMBs and mid-market customers in various verticals such as energy, healthcare, industrial, and professional services. He underscores the importance of understanding clients’ unique needs and pain points, often stemming from previous unsatisfactory IT partnerships.

This understanding allows AVATAR to position itself as a value-added partner capable of guiding clients toward IT maturity.

Wright’s insights on AI, data, and philanthropy at AVATAR

In part two, Wright delves into what sets AVATAR apart as an MSP and the valuable lessons he has learned in his first two years at the helm. He shares success stories, discusses the impact of AI, and reflects on the importance of data in improving productivity. He also highlights the significance of focusing intensely on philanthropy and community involvement.

Listen to Part 2 of the podcast:

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Success story in client engagement

Wright recounts the noteworthy success of AVATAR MSP. He highlights a case with Transit Technologies, a Knoxville-based private equity-backed portfolio of software companies. The challenge was to unify disparate technologies and processes across six different companies, addressing enterprise-level needs while simplifying operations. Wright highlights the rigorous RFP process they won, which required meeting stringent compliance mandates and delivering scalable solutions that catered to the private equity firm’s growth expectations.

Embracing AI and technological trends

When Bavoso inquires about technology trends, Wright highlights AI’s integral role in AVATAR MSP’s operations. The company hires automation engineers to enhance their efforts in scripting and telemetry. Wright acknowledges that while automation is not new, the incorporation of generative AI components can lead to genuinely disruptive technologies, especially in client engagement and knowledge management.

He advises businesses to leverage AI internally to optimize service delivery before offering it as a professional service.

The role of data and productivity monitoring

Reflecting on his initial focus on employee productivity through data, Wright shares that the anticipated industry-wide adoption didn’t materialize as expected. Despite the surge in remote work technologies during the pandemic, he observes that at an enterprise level, productivity monitoring tools didn’t see widespread adoption.

Wright’s experience reveals that while remote work has advantages, the productivity data suggests that in-office work tends to be more effective. He notes that despite the flexibility offered to employees, the collaboration and immediacy of in-office interactions are irreplaceable.

Philanthropy and community engagement

Bavoso brings Wright’s philanthropic efforts into the conversation, highlighting his commitment to giving back. Wright discusses AVATAR’s involvement in prison entrepreneurship programs, youth support initiatives, and educational scholarships. He emphasizes the importance of second chances and community support, reflecting his belief in using business success to drive positive social impact.

Wright shares his motivations for entering the business: the desire to lead with a clear vision, provide growth opportunities for employees, and generate wealth for philanthropic efforts.

Tune in to the video or podcast above for more insights from Katie Bavoso and AVATAR CEO Jason Wright. Don’t miss upcoming episodes of Channel Insider: Partner POV on YouTube or your podcasting platform of choice for more industry insights and expert interviews. Like, follow, and subscribe to stay informed!

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