Nothing gets us more excited at Trilix than sitting down with a client, gaining a great understanding of a business’ current technology and systems landscape, and beginning to envision the path to a better future state. One of the core ways we do this is to remove technology and specific solutions from the conversation until we really understand what the client desires and needs. The end result is a really engaging, empowering conversation on both sides that allows us to arrive at the best possible outcome.
So when we have the chance to connect with other vendors who believe in a similar process, we welcome the opportunity. Recently, I had the chance to sit down with one of my old Atrion colleagues Adam Sugarman, who has since joined ARG as their Director of the Agent Partner Exchange. It was so great talking about how both Trilix and ARG believe in bringing clarity and confidence to technology decisions and in leveraging technology as an accelerator to workplace betterment.
Here’s a look at our conversation below…
Me: Thanks for coming in Adam! We had the opportunity to work together at Atrion, a Rhode Island-based IT services firm, where you worked for the Telecom Services department and I worked for the Application and Innovation department. It’s great to be able to come together again and talk technology strategy. Can you tell our readers a little bit about the work you are doing at ARG, Inc.?
Adam: Thanks for having me! ARG is an IT strategy firm that has been helping companies make the right choice around their technology decisions for almost 30 years. We call it “IT Clarity.” The pace of change in technology is staggering and there are so many choices for any given service that we find that many clients are afraid of making the wrong choice or not choosing the best technology because they simply aren’t aware of it. ARG has product teams dedicated to staying abreast of changes in the market and we represent all the major cloud, voice, security, network and IT solution vendors. We help our clients navigate the options to arrive at the best possible solutions to address their IT needs. We assist with implementation and ongoing support for our over 4000 clients as well, so we have the latest information on vendor performance. Since we operate as a brokerage, we can offer all of these resources at no cost.
I work as Director for our Agent Partner Exchange team to bring our clients clarity with their carrier needs. Specifically, I focus on developing relationships with MSPs, VARS and IT services firms, like Trilix, that offer their core portfolio of offerings yet don’t represent the carrier landscape as part of their overall solution. For instance, a client may be looking to develop a mobile application with a company like Trilix but has not yet considered how that app needs to be supported properly from a bandwidth standpoint. Or they are looking to integrate a UCaaS solution. We would partner in this scenario to ensure that the app is supported, that we understand the other apps that may be put over the same connection, and that we conceptualize how to get from Point A to Point B. We look at everything from voice to data to connectivity so that we can bring this last piece of the puzzle to the overall IT solution.
Me: The terms “IT clarity” and “last piece of the puzzle” really resonate with me, as we at Trilix are also helping our clients get clear on the ways in which technology can be used to accelerate their business. But like ARG, sometimes, our customers don’t always know how to leverage technology to achieve their business goals and that’s where we come in. At the end of the day, there are a number of choices and changes a company can enact and that can be overwhelming for an organization… especially one that is not technology focused. That’s why we tend to see so many legacy systems and technologies still prevalent in business environments. Though old systems present an enormous amount of risk to the business, sometimes it’s easier for the business leader to ignore the new innovations popping up because sifting through them is overwhelming.
Just think of how many buzzwords are out there! Several years ago it was “the cloud.” Now it’s AI and machine learning. Companies often need guidance and understanding on what technology is appropriate for them based on their business situation. We partner with our clients to help them get clear on their business requirements and desired future state so that we can figure out what technologies and integrations to leverage to help our clients reach their growth objectives.
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Adam: I agree with you that these buzzwords create a lot of confusion in the market. I remember that when VoIP got really popular, we noticed that our customers struggled to understand that Voice over IP was different than Voice over the Internet. Back then, everyone thought they could get rid of voice circuits and so people would go down this road of VoIP and not realize the voice quality was horrible.
At ARG, we help companies make sense of these trends. Sometimes we teach them something new, but other times we are simply validating what they believe to be true, which can be just as powerful. Recently, I worked with a client and we were having a conversation about their mobility plans and structure. We ran through our process to identify if they were fully optimized and it turned out they were. What the IT administrator did was absolutely the right thing. Being able to go back to the client and tell them they did everything right made them feel great.
Me: It’s always great when business leaders get it! Going back to your phrase “the last piece of the puzzle,” can you tell me about what can happen when that carrier services puzzle piece is missing?
Adam: Absolutely. Several years ago, we had an Atrion customer who was migrating to Office 365. They put all their effort into migrating and flipping the switch, and when they did the user experience was horrible. It turned out that they didn’t properly address the bandwidth requirements when they made that change. Instead, they took a massive server that sat in house and moved it to the cloud and didn’t think about bandwidth and it created the trickle effect. When they realized the problem, it took 60 to 90 days to upgrade the bandwidth, and everyone had to limp through the upgrade. Every time someone sat, staring at their screen, waiting for an email to come in, there was a massive loss in productivity and the user experience suffered—not to mention everyone got mad at IT. When the carrier equation is left out, you are missing out on a critical part of the technology solution that is required to address your needs as none of this works without proper connectivity.
Me: That’s a great example of just how detrimental productivity loss can be to an organization—of course, sometimes it isn’t always that apparent or clear cut. One thing I always encourage leaders to do is talk to their employees about the things that are bothering them and impacting their productivity so they can prioritize addressing those concerns. Oftentimes, if you sit in management, you may not come face-to-face with the non-value add tasks that your employees are performing each day. We like to advise our clients to talk to their employees and ask them what tools they would like to have to do their jobs better. When you make your employees’ jobs easier, they are going to be happier and better serve your customers.
In your line of work, you are making sure that not only are employees’ lives more productive and efficient but that the carrier needs are there to support the solution. Do you find there is a growing awareness of the role carrier plays in the day-to-day productivity and user experience?
Adam: I do; I don’t think it’s an after-thought the way it potentially was years ago because bandwidth has become a commodity. However, that being said, it’s still undervalued and oversimplified. Not all bandwidth is created equal. If you are talking about an SD-WAN solution, for instance, not every carrier’s network is built the same and has the same amount of latency. So, even though it is commoditized and you can get a lot of bandwidth for little dollar, you still have to think about how it is being designed.
Me: We see the same thing on the app side. Despite the fact that technology is so pervasive, and people think “there must be an app for that,” sometimes the answer is to actually make greater use of your existing systems instead of only investing in something new. In my experience, I have found that people have a tendency to think about IT in terms of projects. We tend to think we need to do something big to make an impact. But a lot of times organizations have existing solutions and technologies in which they have invested, but not fully taking advantage.
One of the things that business leaders should be aware of is that there are typically many ways to build upon your existing technology investments and derive even greater outcomes. A lot of wins can be made through your existing investments.
Adam: I couldn’t agree more. It’s about helping people maximize the investment by ensuring that all parts of the equation are accounted for. Businesses today need to think about everything from business optimization to cost optimization to user experience optimization.
Me: That’s where partners like us can come in and help leaders evaluate options, identify what they are trying to achieve and outline solutions to achieve it. Most technology solutions today are not plug-and-play. It’s not like you can go out and buy a machine learning system, snap your fingers and have new information. Many technology initiatives involve integrations, user training, rollout, etc.… there is a lot to think about!
Adam: Exactly. At ARG we focus on providing white-glove service and make the carrier experience better. When we talk to customers, particularly for the first discussions, we don’t talk about any particular provider. Instead, we take a very agnostic approach, understand their unique objectives and bring fresh perspective to the table from the work we have done throughout different companies and verticals. Similar to Trilix, we don’t push solutions.
Me: That is very true. All too often vendors push products and solutions. That’s why I like how you refer to the term “white-glove service.” We focus on shepherding clients through a proven process to arrive at the best possible outcome, instead of pushing a specific technology solution.
At the end of the day, I think the important thing as a business is to have technology that actually works—not just what is current. You can bring in the most current, interesting technology but if it’s not implemented correctly, or doesn’t address end user needs, it can have a detrimental effect on the business. A trusted partner looks at the business problem you are trying to solve, and the technologies that can potentially solve that, to arrive at that company’s best solution—versus just what the masses are doing.