Hatz AI CEO: MSPs Will Play ‘A Key Role’ In The Global Transition To AI
‘The MSP community is really going to lead where our product goes. I'm very bullish on AI in general. I think that there's a massive mega trend of adoption and MSPs are naturally going to catch a lot of that spend,’ says Jimmy Hatzell, CEO of Hatz AI.
Hatz AI CEO Jimmy Hatzell is “very bullish on AI, “so much so that he launched a new company this week that offers AI as a service for MSPs.
“The MSP community is really going to lead where our product goes,” Hatzell told CRN in an exclusive interview. “I think that there's a massive mega trend of adoption and MSPs are naturally going to catch a lot of that spend.”
Hatz AI, a startup that officially launched Thursday with a platform coming in March, was created to enable MSPs to build an AI-as-a-Service business with AI applications and agents, vector storage and custom large language models (LLMs).
He said when MSP executives talk to their customers, they get questions around how they can use AI in their own businesses, whether it’s secure and whether they should be letting their employees use ChatGPT.
“Right now they don't have a lot of options to offer the end customers,” he said. “What they're really looking for is a way to answer those questions, point them in the right direction and start providing those services. But, and this is the more important part, it’s a way to really believe those conversations and give their own customers the competitive edge.
“It’s frequently talked about how AI is going to replace jobs and augment the way we do business,” he added. “What MSPs really want to do is offer the best IT advisory services that they can give and included in that conversation is how they can use AI to improve their own business.”
MSPs that partner with Hatz AI will get a system of engagement and a system of record, Hatzell explained. The system of engagement is a set of applications that MSPs can use to sell and manage for their end customers. The first two applications being released are an AI chat assistant and an AI application builder that MSPs can use to build custom applications for their end customers. The system of record for small businesses will have custom LLMs and vector storage, all managed through the Hatz AI platform.
The platform will be powered by an LLM operation called Mido and include multitenant management through an MSP admin dashboard. MSPs will be able to integrate AI into their product offering by building specialized AI applications and workflows for their customers and offer organizationally managed AI assistants.
“There is a global transition to AI happening at every level of business, and small businesses could get left behind,” he said. “MSPs are going to play a key role in that global transition for small businesses.”
The 30-year-old CEO was most recently at Vancouver, Canada-based CyberQP, first as director of marketing then as vice president of revenue. Hatzell spoke with CRN to discuss why MSPs should harness the power of AI for small business, his 2024 roadmap and, as a millennial, how he’s leading a next generation company.
What can we expect to see from Hatz AI through the rest of 2024?
So this March we're releasing the initial applications, the AI chat assistant and the AI builder in the summer. You'll see an AI phone-based customer service agent product that is currently in development. MSPs can offer an AI-trained [tool] on either their own company or a company that they work with that can answer the phone, route calls, send reminders and take different custom actions. Towards the end of the year, you'll see the ability to manage your own models and manage your own vector storage databases.
So where do you see the company a year from now?
A year from now I see us really expanding into the MSP market. I think right now it's newer technology. Only a handful of MSPs have begun offering AI as a service and it's going to take some time to figure out the use cases. We are relentlessly relying on our partners before we launch. We signed up a couple design partners and launch partners to give us feedback on the product and they're literally looking at product designs before code is written to ensure it's something that's going to work in their business. They will also be testing releases with their own customers, so the MSP community is really going to lead where our product goes. I'm very bullish on AI in general. I think that there's a massive mega trend of adoption and MSPs are naturally going to catch a lot of that spend. I think that the MSPs who are really smart and embrace this are going to do extremely well the same way that they did with the early adopters of cybersecurity.
As a younger leader, how do you think you'll approach leadership differently than others of older generations?
I embrace new technology. I've already integrated AI into my own business and into everything that I do. I really value work life balance. Not to say that I don't work hard but I'm less concerned about people being in an office, I’m more focused on outcomes. As an example for myself, it's really important that I drop my daughter off at daycare every day and pick her back up. It may mean as a CEO logging back in after hours and getting the work done then or scheduling meetings later or doing things earlier. I think that is a generational shift where maybe 10, 20, 30 years ago it was expected that people stay in the office, work late and have face time. I embrace remote first culture. Although I personally go to an office and work with people in the office, I'm OK with remote work. And I work asynchronously a lot and prefer tools like Slack to email.
In terms of AI, how do you think the generation coming up, Gen Z, is going to harness AI in their work life?
With the internet we had the digital divide. We grew up knowing how to use Google and being very good at Google search. But there was a large workforce of people who were on the other side of that digital divide. It took them a long time to catch up and learn how to use these tools. The same thing is happening with AI right now. The younger generation, they're growing up with it. Schools are trying to figure out how to catch people using AI in their homework assignments and what do they do about it. I just think that the younger generation is able to do a lot more with a lot less. What used to be maybe be three jobs in a business can be one. AI definitely has a bias for the top performers and that's really part of why I wanted to launch this business. I think that small businesses could get left behind if they aren't prepared. It's a bit about protecting jobs, like existing small businesses who aren’t able to utilize AI into their own workflows, organizations and business processes over the next five or 10 years could see themselves in a really vulnerable position. In many cases they can’t integrate that technology themselves, they need their MSP to be able to do it.
What is your overall message to partners about your new venture?
Our tagline is build your AI future. I really stand behind that because I think we're at a jumping-off point. I saw the way that the IT services business transitioned from break/fix to MSP and from MSP being only IT services to include lots of managed cybersecurity services. I feel like we're at the same point right now where you can make a lot of money and really set yourself up for being successful in the future if you embrace AI. Plus, it's just really cool and fun, it's like magic.