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How to Strategize Your Business Growth - MSPtv Episode 36

Posted February 12, 2015by Tim Lewis

 

 02-12-2015-Wadnizak.png


Mark Wadnizak, President & CEO of VoiceSmart Networks, is an industry leader in managed services and a sought after speaker on technology, managed services and best business practices. Over the years, he has expanded his voice VAR business to now also include data VAR. Luckily, we got a chance to sit down with Mark in the studio to discuss this transition. In this episode of MSPtv, Mark also explains his strategy on client cloud adoption, discusses how he leverages Continuum's products and services and examines key force multipliers that help his business grow

Tune in!


More about Mark Wadnizak:


Mark Wadnizak is Founder and President of Voice Smart Networks, Southern California’s leading unified communications provider. As President of Voice Smart Networks, Mark is responsible for guiding the company’s strategic direction, expanding the organization’s offering with cutting edge technology, and developing  programs and services that continually drive the profitability and competitive advantages of Voice Smart Networks’ customers.
 

Have any suggestions for an MSPtv episode? Want to give us your feedback? Email us at mspnow@continuum.net and let us know what you think!


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Episode Transcription:

Scott: Hi, I'm Scott Glidden and welcome to another episode of MSP TV. I'm here today with Mark Wadnizak, CEO of Voice Smart Networks. How are you today, Mark?

Mark Wadnizak: I'm very well, Scott.

Scott: Good.

Mark: Good to be here.

Scott: Good. We're going to talk to Mark a little bit about the channel area that you're in. You're Telco vendor that's making its move into the data VAR area. Correct?

Mark: Correct. We spent the last five years, really, evolving our business from a voice VAR to more of a converged VAR, and in doing that we've grown the business where we are now doing about 60% data and 40% voice. Because, as we've been telling our clients that really voices migrated from being a box with its own separate network to an application on the network, and so you need to be able to manage the network in order to really make sure that the voice is going to work correctly initially and continue to work.

Scott: I would think that your opportunity to really upsell some of your existing clients, ones that you've had relationships with for a good period of time of, it gives you a little bit of a step up and going into that area.

Mark: It has. It's been a logical progression because we've been in this. We've worked with our clients initially deploying a voice over IP solution. What we've found is that the existing IT support, whether it's in-house, outsource was very good about servers, applications, but infrastructure they were very weak on.

Scott: Oh, yeah.

Mark: So we came in and we obviously dealt with the infrastructure and then at that point it was just the logical next step was to have the discussions about what they're doing with the support of the servers and then move from that out to the desktops, etc.

Scott: That's great. Then how long have you been a partner with Continuum?

Mark: We've been a partner with Continuum since Continuum started. That's three years.

Scott: In about their ballpark, right, yeah?

Mark: That’s right. And it's been really a very great partnership because Continuum has continued to invest in the technology as they said they would. To take and create best practices, and flush out some of the areas that needed to be evolved a little bit more. So it's been a really positive experience at first.

Scott: That's great. Great. And what products do you tend to use?

Mark: We use all of the Continuum products.

Scott: Oh, wonderful.

Mark: So we use Service Desk, we use that, the NOC. We have, all of our servers we use the complete monitoring solutions. We believe we want to make sure that we use Continuum for its services, what I call as "a force multiplier."

So for us, it's really about using our engineers and having them be able to address high-level issues and use Continuum, the NOC, the Service Desk to take care of that 85%, all the background noise.

Scott: Sure.

Mark: And that's been, as I say, for us, it continues to really be the force multiplier. So we used that. We used the Vault. Been very happy with the Vault and Sync-724, and we’re heavily involved in the initial rollout of that and using that internally and we'll be moving that over to our customers as it's just so much in need for casual or formal file-sharing type applications.

Scott: Right. It's interesting that you mention. Earlier we we're talking and some of the trends and things that you're seeing in the small and mid-sized business market, and you had mentioned security continues to be a growing concern. How are you focused on that?

Mark: So, we've all heard over the last 12 months a lot about security. The security breaches that'd occurred at a lot of companies and so that noise is now pushing down to the small businesses. They’re starting to recognize that they really need to do something. Because very small businesses really did not understand that they needed to have a firewall, the firewall needed to be managed, and it needed to be an ongoing effort.

Scott: Right.

Mark: It wasn't a one-time, "I put it in. I'm secure. I can go and run my business." It's about education, and so we're putting together a full process to educate our customers on, what is security? Where it applies in the network and the benefits of managing it.

We're looking to several partners, SonicWALL, WatchGuard, to essentially standardize on their firewalls. We’re then going to be putting in a centralized management tool in order to be able to provide centralized management and reporting of the firewalls, so that the customers will then on a monthly basis along with their services report on helpdesk, servers, patching, are now going to get reports upon utilization of their bandwidth, who were the top talkers, top applications. It’ll help them understand the utilization of their network, and also the value of starting to secure it and to control it. Because most small businesses don't understand that Internet isn't just wide open and free, and so they need to start to have people limited on Facebook and some of the social media sites they're going to. So this will really help them.

Scott: That's great. I would imagine that you’d mentioned educating your clients about those levels of security, what kinds of conversations or educational discussions are you having with them around cloud adoption and where that is going as we go forward?

Mark: We've been very forward on the cloud conversation. We've been doing a number of lunch-and-learn for the last 18 months, explaining to our clients really about what is the cloud. Because it's pretty confusing or cloudy, as a lot of people want to say out there.

So it's been really about explaining to the client what a private cloud is, what a public cloud is, a hybrid, and then how are they going to fit their business into it. Also, explaining to them that for the most part everybody is using the cloud to some extent or other.

Scott: Right.

Mark: And where that value for them, as they grow their business, may lie whether it's moving their service to the cloud or taking advantage of desktops to service, the different applications.

Scott: Right. And then it is changing. I think it will change as we go forward a lot more of the growing need that the small and mid-sized businesses will have for people to help them manage and understand how the technology is affecting their business.

Mark: Well, I think, that's certainly very true. What we're finding is that if you're able to engage in that conversation with the CEO, the CFO - essentially, the thought leaders from a business and help them understand the value of the cloud, they can start to think about where they should be looking to move their business, but also help them understand that the cloud is not going to solve all their problems.

Scott: No, right, right.

Mark: And that there's some significant investments that have to be made in their infrastructure and access in order for the cloud to be successful.

Scott: Right.

Mark: We've had those discussions with our customers. Yeah, it's interesting as you start to look at the cost side of it - of course, you’ve had the manufacturers, Dell, etc., HP - several manufacturers that’re looking at the cloud and they're saying, "Oh-oh. I'm gonna sell less hardware.”

Scott: Sure.

Mark: So you’re seeing servers come down in price. So, I think the immediate adoption for certainly small businesses to move everything out to cloud isn't as some simple as it initially seemed.

Scott: Right, yeah. I've heard many say that it's an evolution, not a revolution when it comes to the cloud.

Mark: Absolutely, yeah.

Scott: One last question for you and that is, it seems as though you are making a really solid transition from the voice VAR side of things to the data side. If you were talking - I know you remember of TAG as well, talking with other Telco providers who are seeing the changing environment, what sort of advice would you give them?

Mark: Well, the network today essentially carries all the information, whether it’s voice, whether it’s video and its data. So the VAR that is being evolved AND I don't think that's really been entirely understood yet by the VAR community, whether it’s the data VAR, or the voice VAR, the security VAR, is going to be a VAR that's converged and able to offer all the services to their clients because everything is interrelated.

So for the customers to be able to get the best servers which, you know, what is the best servers? It’s the ability for the VAR to respond quickly and knowledgeably. They need to understand all the applications that are running on the network and to be able to address, whichever one may be causing the problem.

So for us said, as a TAG member, we're working with the whole TAG group through that evolution to become essentially that converged VAR, where we bring security to our customers, we bring the voice side of it, and we bring the data side of it, and then we help the customer manage that in a proactive manner, so that when we meet our clients on a monthly or quarterly basis, our discussions are much more about business, where’s their business going, and to make sure that they now have the correct applications in their network, the correct infrastructure in order to continue to grow that business.

Scott: You're really becoming their virtual CIO and really the trusted advisor as far as their technology needs.

Mark: That's the direction we've continued to work towards.

Scott: That’s it, yeah. Absolutely.

Mark: Absolutely.

Scott: Well, thank you very much for joining us today.

Mark: Thank you so much.

Scott: Come by and see us when you're in town again.

Mark: We certainly will; enjoyed it.

Scott: Thank you very much. Thank you, folks. Look forward to seeing you again in another episode of MSP TV. Scott: Hi, I'm Scott Glidden and welcome to another episode of MSP TV. I'm here today with Mark Wadnizak, CEO of Voice Smart Networks. How are you today, Mark?

Mark Wadnizak: I'm very well, Scott.

Scott: Good.

Mark: Good to be here.

Scott: Good. We're going to talk to Mark a little bit about the channel area that you're in. You're Telco vendor that's making its move into the data VAR area. Correct?

Mark: Correct. We spent the last five years, really, evolving our business from a voice VAR to more of a converged VAR, and in doing that we've grown the business where we are now doing about 60% data and 40% voice. Because, as we've been telling our clients that really voices migrated from being a box with its own separate network to an application on the network, and so you need to be able to manage the network in order to really make sure that the voice is going to work correctly initially and continue to work.

Scott: I would think that your opportunity to really upsell some of your existing clients, ones that you've had relationships with for a good period of time of, it gives you a little bit of a step up and going into that area.

Mark: It has. It's been a logical progression because we've been in this. We've worked with our clients initially deploying a voice over IP solution. What we've found is that the existing IT support, whether it's in-house, outsource was very good about servers, applications, but infrastructure they were very weak on.

Scott: Oh, yeah.

Mark: So we came in and we obviously dealt with the infrastructure and then at that point it was just the logical next step was to have the discussions about what they're doing with the support of the servers and then move from that out to the desktops, etc.

Scott: That's great. Then how long have you been a partner with Continuum?

Mark: We've been a partner with Continuum since Continuum started. That's three years.

Scott: In about their ballpark, right, yeah?

Mark: That’s right. And it's been really a very great partnership because Continuum has continued to invest in the technology as they said they would. To take and create best practices, and flush out some of the areas that needed to be evolved a little bit more. So it's been a really positive experience at first.

Scott: That's great. Great. And what products do you tend to use?

Mark: We use all of the Continuum products.

Scott: Oh, wonderful.

Mark: So we use Service Desk, we use that, the NOC. We have, all of our servers we use the complete monitoring solutions. We believe we want to make sure that we use Continuum for its services, what I call as "a force multiplier."

So for us, it's really about using our engineers and having them be able to address high-level issues and use Continuum, the NOC, the Service Desk to take care of that 85%, all the background noise.

Scott: Sure.

Mark: And that's been, as I say, for us, it continues to really be the force multiplier. So we used that. We used the Vault. Been very happy with the Vault and Sync-724, and we’re heavily involved in the initial rollout of that and using that internally and we'll be moving that over to our customers as it's just so much in need for casual or formal file-sharing type applications.

Scott: Right. It's interesting that you mention. Earlier we we're talking and some of the trends and things that you're seeing in the small and mid-sized business market, and you had mentioned security continues to be a growing concern. How are you focused on that?

Mark: So, we've all heard over the last 12 months a lot about security. The security breaches that'd occurred at a lot of companies and so that noise is now pushing down to the small businesses. They’re starting to recognize that they really need to do something. Because very small businesses really did not understand that they needed to have a firewall, the firewall needed to be managed, and it needed to be an ongoing effort.

Scott: Right.

Mark: It wasn't a one-time, "I put it in. I'm secure. I can go and run my business." It's about education, and so we're putting together a full process to educate our customers on, what is security? Where it applies in the network and the benefits of managing it.

We're looking to several partners, SonicWALL, WatchGuard, to essentially standardize on their firewalls. We’re then going to be putting in a centralized management tool in order to be able to provide centralized management and reporting of the firewalls, so that the customers will then on a monthly basis along with their services report on helpdesk, servers, patching, are now going to get reports upon utilization of their bandwidth, who were the top talkers, top applications. It’ll help them understand the utilization of their network, and also the value of starting to secure it and to control it. Because most small businesses don't understand that Internet isn't just wide open and free, and so they need to start to have people limited on Facebook and some of the social media sites they're going to. So this will really help them.

Scott: That's great. I would imagine that you’d mentioned educating your clients about those levels of security, what kinds of conversations or educational discussions are you having with them around cloud adoption and where that is going as we go forward?

Mark: We've been very forward on the cloud conversation. We've been doing a number of lunch-and-learn for the last 18 months, explaining to our clients really about what is the cloud. Because it's pretty confusing or cloudy, as a lot of people want to say out there.

So it's been really about explaining to the client what a private cloud is, what a public cloud is, a hybrid, and then how are they going to fit their business into it. Also, explaining to them that for the most part everybody is using the cloud to some extent or other.

Scott: Right.

Mark: And where that value for them, as they grow their business, may lie whether it's moving their service to the cloud or taking advantage of desktops to service, the different applications.

Scott: Right. And then it is changing. I think it will change as we go forward a lot more of the growing need that the small and mid-sized businesses will have for people to help them manage and understand how the technology is affecting their business.

Mark: Well, I think, that's certainly very true. What we're finding is that if you're able to engage in that conversation with the CEO, the CFO - essentially, the thought leaders from a business and help them understand the value of the cloud, they can start to think about where they should be looking to move their business, but also help them understand that the cloud is not going to solve all their problems.

Scott: No, right, right.

Mark: And that there's some significant investments that have to be made in their infrastructure and access in order for the cloud to be successful.

Scott: Right.

Mark: We've had those discussions with our customers. Yeah, it's interesting as you start to look at the cost side of it - of course, you’ve had the manufacturers, Dell, etc., HP - several manufacturers that’re looking at the cloud and they're saying, "Oh-oh. I'm gonna sell less hardware.”

Scott: Sure.

Mark: So you’re seeing servers come down in price. So, I think the immediate adoption for certainly small businesses to move everything out to cloud isn't as some simple as it initially seemed.

Scott: Right, yeah. I've heard many say that it's an evolution, not a revolution when it comes to the cloud.

Mark: Absolutely, yeah.

Scott: One last question for you and that is, it seems as though you are making a really solid transition from the voice VAR side of things to the data side. If you were talking - I know you remember of TAG as well, talking with other Telco providers who are seeing the changing environment, what sort of advice would you give them?

Mark: Well, the network today essentially carries all the information, whether it’s voice, whether it’s video and its data. So the VAR that is being evolved AND I don't think that's really been entirely understood yet by the VAR community, whether it’s the data VAR, or the voice VAR, the security VAR, is going to be a VAR that's converged and able to offer all the services to their clients because everything is interrelated.

So for the customers to be able to get the best servers which, you know, what is the best servers? It’s the ability for the VAR to respond quickly and knowledgeably. They need to understand all the applications that are running on the network and to be able to address, whichever one may be causing the problem.

So for us said, as a TAG member, we're working with the whole TAG group through that evolution to become essentially that converged VAR, where we bring security to our customers, we bring the voice side of it, and we bring the data side of it, and then we help the customer manage that in a proactive manner, so that when we meet our clients on a monthly or quarterly basis, our discussions are much more about business, where’s their business going, and to make sure that they now have the correct applications in their network, the correct infrastructure in order to continue to grow that business.

Scott: You're really becoming their virtual CIO and really the trusted advisor as far as their technology needs.

Mark: That's the direction we've continued to work towards.

Scott: That’s it, yeah. Absolutely.

Mark: Absolutely.

Scott: Well, thank you very much for joining us today.

Mark: Thank you so much.

Scott: Come by and see us when you're in town again.

Mark: We certainly will; enjoyed it.

Scott: Thank you very much. Thank you, folks. Look forward to seeing you again in another episode of MSP TV.

 

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Tim Lewis came from Emerson College in Boston, he lives and breathes motion pictures. In his spare time he enjoys petting his dog, Duke! Woof!

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