(Photo: Avetta Global Founder Melissa Fox and CEO Lloyd Marino)
By Becky Hollaway, California Business Journal.
For an IT person, the CEO of Avetta Global, Lloyd Marino, has some controversial opinions. For one, he doesn’t believe you should always listen to your IT department. Two, he doesn’t think companies should always be upgrading to the newest technological systems out there.
Avetta Global is a Managed Service Provider and Cloud Service Provider that develops and maintains IT infrastructure for Los Angeles area companies. In over 15 years of business, Marino and the founder of Avetta Global, Melissa Fox, have honed a workflow based on knowing their clients’ companies inside and out, and then providing an IT plan based on the company’s needs, rather than adapting the business’s workflow to the IT system.
“I get a lot of heat for this because I’m an IT guy, right?” Marino says. “But I have a huge pet peeve about IT departments spending boat loads of money to upgrade and get the latest, greatest, newest thing. Because at the end of the day, it’s about the business. If the software is driving the business and working just fine, why are you going to uproot all of this stuff and cause all this disruption?”
Avetta Global believes in molding the technological infrastructure to the company’s needs, rather than forcing a company to adapt to an IT system that may not work for them. AG does this by learning as much as it can about the company and the industry it is in.
“I know more about accounting than I ever cared to know. I know more about healthcare than I ever wanted to know. I know more about advertising and law than I ever wanted to know,” Marino says. “You just get to know your clients and what they need you to do. And you build automation around their process. You don’t try to fit them into yours.”
The team at Avetta Global also thrives on solving problems. And the team combines its intimate knowledge of the company with its problem-solving skills.
The key for AG is to use the intimate knowledge of the company, and then step in with its engineering-like, problem-solving brains.
“The most exciting part about what we do is solving the problem. And most of the folks that do work for us do this inherently. If you present me with a problem, I have to solve it,” Marino says. He laughingly calls this need to solve problems a personal issue. “If I can’t close the lid on my garbage can, I’ve got to be the guy to solve it.”
Which leads him to another potentially controversial opinion among IT people. He doesn’t understand why it takes some managed service provider IT companies so long to solve a problem.
“Sometimes we get called in and the client will say, ‘But it takes this other company two weeks to solve our issue and get through a problem.’ I don’t understand that. I don’t understand why it takes these other organizations, these other managed service providers, that much time to solve some of the most mundane and simple issues,” Marino says. “And it could just be me. I literally have been doing this 30 plus years. Before I did this, I was a kid and I was flipping pizzas.”
Marino has been working on computers since he was 14. Although the computers have gotten smaller, faster, and evolved in a million different ways, foundationally, they’re still the same, Marino says.
“The underlying tech for all the stuff hasn’t significantly changed in decades. What some of these guys can do on a user interface; I can do on a command line in half the time. Foundationally the stuff is conceptually the same,” Marino says.
Avetta Global has been successful for two reasons: One, Marino and Fox know their clients’ needs inside and out, and two, trust. Part of that trust comes from teaching their clients how to maximize the software that they’re already using in their business. They teach their clients the ins and outs of Windows and Mac, and help them find tools in their existing software programs that will help their company.
“There are so many tools built into those products, and we drill into those details. We teach companies how to use those tools and get the best bang for their buck instead of going out and buying some kind of plug-in or add-on,” Marino says.
This also teaches the companies to be more self-reliant, instead of becoming completely dependent on their IT departments.
“We teach these companies and expose them to things that they have never been exposed to before, and sometimes they’re saying, ‘Oh wow, if it can do this, can it do that?” And it’s like, ‘Yes it can,’” Marino says. “And it creates awareness within the organization about what to purchase and how to use it, and how to get the best bang for their buck.”
Another core belief at Avetta Global is in being proactive, rather than being reactive.
“There’s a great cartoon that I saw recently and it was the boss going up to the IT department and saying, ‘Nothing works. Why do we pay you?’ And in the second frame it says, ‘Everything’s working fine, why are we paying you?’ And I think that kind of sums it up,” Marino says. “It’s like everything is working fine, and when it is, that’s when you know everything’s great.”
Marino is always surprised by how little tech issues their clients have, once they’ve been set up.
“We have a ticketing system where you would think you would get several hundred tickets a day to help clients through their problems. I’m surprised when there are more than 20. We’ve just got this down pat,” Marino says.
Recently they moved one of their clients, Alchemy Media, from a physical server network system to a hybrid-cloud system. They migrated the data so efficiently that no one at the company even noticed until they saw the machines being hauled out of the building. IBM wrote about it on its blog.
“We migrated their services in a week and the customer didn’t even know until we rolled a six-foot rack of servers out of the building,” Marino says. “They were like, ‘What are you doing?’ and we were like, ‘Dude, we migrated you to the cloud!’”
It was exactly the way Marino believes an IT managed service provider should be operating: So seamlessly that the company never realizes that something has changed. Things just keep running exactly as they were, only better and faster.
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