Pax8 Co-Founder Says These Four Steps Will Give You The Edge With AI

Ryan Walsh, co-founder and chief strategy officer for the Denver-based distributor, says that ‘whether you're looking for productivity or you're looking to take advantage of this, it's clear that this opportunity is here to stay.'

When it comes to adopting AI, it’s all about building a business strategy around it, creating use cases and finding where it can help MSPs and their end customers.

Ryan Walsh, co-founder and chief strategy officer for Denver-based distributor Pax8, spoke about implementing AI at CRN parent company The Channel Company’s XChange March 2024 event in Orlando, Fla. this week.

“Whether you're looking for productivity or you're looking to take advantage of this, it's clear that this opportunity is here to stay,” he said.

During his keynote, he discussed the challenges and opportunities of implementing practical AI in businesses, emphasizing the importance of understanding customer needs and prioritizing their concerns. He also highlighted the need for a governance approach to ensure responsible AI adoption including data security and privacy, reliability and safety, transparency, inclusiveness and data infrastructure.

[Related: Microsoft Copilot Leader: 5 Boldest Statements On The MSP Opportunity]

“Some of us are saying, ‘Hey, we're going to say no, not yet. We need to understand the risk,’” he said. “That is good caution but we also need to understand what's driving our customers’ interest. What do they care about? Where are their potholes? You can actually use this and differentiate yourselves if you embraced this.”

He referenced a Forbes survey that said 64 percent of businesses surveyed expect AI to increase productivity.

A separate study predicts that AI will contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

To get started, there are four steps to effective AI adoption. First, establish a business strategy that focuses on what customers want and how AI can address their needs. Second, build a governance approach based on principles like privacy, security, transparency and fairness. Utilize tools and resources to assess and manage data security risks as well.

Thirdly, drive an adoption journey getting leadership to buy in and train employees on how AI will be used and the benefits it can bring. And lastly, discover more ways to utilize practical AI through building use cases.

Walsh told MSPs to consider using Microsoft Co-Pilot as a starting point and focus on use cases that can save time and effort such as summarizing meetings, generating content ideas and creating customer responses.

He said Co-Pilot can be used for every role in the business from marketing to operations to sales to supply chain. Users already leveraging Co-Pilot are saving two to five hours a week, he said.

Once a strategy is in place, monitor and measure the results of AI initiatives and use that data to refine the approach and identify new use cases.

“What are the secrets of practical AI? The secrets come from listening to your customers,” he said.

To assist in that, prepare customers to successful deployments.

“Users need to know how they fit into this,” he said. “What that's going to require us to do is to be very clear about the use cases and the benefits that we get from these initiatives. We're going to want to talk about it over and over and over. This is a massive training opportunity and we're going to have to be a part of it. I think this is where you can attach value to what you do to your customers.

“Pax8 is built to help you with this,” he added. “You do not have to go at it alone.”

Brian Ruschman, president of Covington, KY-based MSP C-Forward, said what customers want should drive AI implementation but that MSPs need to steer that adoption journey.

“For small business, AI means saving time on repetitive and mundane tasks, improving the quality of output and growing revenue,” he told CRN. “Our customers will be happy to know that AI can quickly reduce operating costs to get large return on investment for their business, but proceeding with caution is key in order to limit our customer’s risk and liability.”

Michael Goldstein, CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based LAN Infotech, said he’s impressed with Pax8’s AI initiatives to help MSPs.

“They’re providing AI strategy playbooks with step-by-step guidance to get us AI ready and Pax8 is here to help us every step of the way,” he said.