Logically CEO On MSP Transparency, AI And The Younger Workforce
‘If there was more transparency, we could build tighter bonds and push each other’s businesses forward even more. It’s the old saying of like I can give the worst cook in the world the best recipe and they still are not going to bake it the right way,’ says Joshua Skeens, Logically CEO.
Logically CEO Joshua Skeens is focused on many aspects of the MSP such as cybersecurity, transparency and taking care of his employees.
The CEO of the Dublin, Ohio-based company, which made the 2023 CRN MSP Elite 150 list, took on the position in January of this year and also has his eye on the younger workforce, offering them guiding and tapping into how they work to help operate the business.
Skeens, who is 41, attended a young professionals event to speak about leadership and opportunities for the generation entering the workforce.
“I got a lot of great feedback from it and people asking me to help mentor them, which is a passion of mine. I love being able to do that,” he told CRN. “For me too, just talking to them and trying to set expectations around what is the real world. Culturally their work ethic sometimes is disjointed in what some of ours is in older generations, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. They have different expectations. They want to know what their impact is.”
That’s one thing he’s challenging his leadership team on is helping employees understand their why.
“Then you start to see them to be more engaged. They’re happier,” he said. “When you have more engaged, happier employees, you have more engaged, happier customers.”
And he believes Gen Z will have an easier understanding of technology because that generation grew up with it.
“It makes it a lot easier for them to dive in and get up to speed on things,” he said. “One thing that I really appreciate about them is they are so attached to technology that a lot of times they can come in and ask questions. There’s a difference between asking a question and questioning. I love their ability to come in and ask questions about how we do things. They’ve been in technology for so long, growing up with cell phones in their hands, and everything else that a lot of times they can help us find efficiencies, processes, procedures and technologies that we just overlooked.”
But along with focusing on skilling up the younger generation and taking care of his employees, Skeens is also focused on Logically’s cybersecurity-first approach, how AI plays into that and delivering for customers.
The CEO recently sat down with CRN to discuss these topics and more. Check it out below.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity in the channel right now?
I think there’s a convergence. A lot of these MSPs are starting to come together and leveraging each other in strategic partnerships. Some MSPs today are still highly specialized where you might be an MSP that’s really good at VoIP (voice over internet protocol) and that’s all you want to do. In the past, a lot of times those MSPs didn’t want to bring in another MSP, even if it was something that they didn’t do well. Now what you’re seeing is a lot more strategic alignment of all your VoIP MSPs or a break fix or a tier one, like let’s work together. We’re seeing a lot of that convergence right now from a channel perspective.
What are your thoughts on M&A for Logically?
We’re going continue to look at acquisitions, and it’s got to be the right acquisition. For us, we’ve done 10-plus acquisitions over the last four years. We’re working diligently right now to bring us together as, what we call, One Logically through systems, platforms, everything to try to drive efficiency. But we’re always on the lookout for another great acquisition. There’s a likelihood that we’ll make an acquisition in 2024.
What do you want more from your vendors?
Education, that’s lacking. I’m big on training, and from an educational standpoint, the vendors are in a weird spot to where a lot of times they roll out a new product and they still have not developed the training and documentation yet for their own people, let alone they’re putting it in the hands of us technology professionals. We’re being left to try to figure it out and support it on our own, so I’d love to see more educational platforms from our vendors.
What is your biggest challenge right now?
The success of our business, to be honest with you. Not that we’re not successful because we are hiring, we’re very successful but employees are really near and dear to my heart. I feel at the end of the day, their personal and professional lives really ride on the decisions that I make for us as a company and for us to be successful. At the end of the day, they need to feed their families and continue their own personal and professional career paths. I take that very personally and I want to make sure that I set them up for success.
My personal ethos really is that I want to develop people personally and professionally so they can go get a job anywhere and be successful in life. The second one is to create a culture where they never want to leave. Then you put employees in conflict and that conflict is, ‘I love where I work, but maybe it’s time for me to go work someplace else,’ which I’m very supportive of. Over the last 15 years I’ve had dozens of conversations where I’ve actively told an employee it’s probably time for them to go because I just knew where they were trying to get to and we didn’t have that role ready for them. They were being held back. A lot of people say that I’m crazy for doing that but I just feel like that’s what’s best for those people, and it comes back around
The last time we spoke last time, you talked about wanting to transform Logically into a true MSSP. Where are you in that journey?
It’s going well. A lot of our go-to-market strategy now focuses around cybersecurity first and then going in and selling or managed services. I’ve gotten a lot of questions around, ‘Are you guys exiting the MSP space?’ No, we’re not exiting the MSP space but we’re leading with cybersecurity first. We believe we need to secure our customers environments and then we can go in and help them from a technology perspective. That’s our go to market strategy. We’re seeing that our security business units continue to grow pretty rapidly, which we’re excited about. Our customers are loving the strategic nature of us going in and having those cybersecurity conversations with them but then layering in how we can help them from a roadmap [perspective] and from a value add-on on normal IT.
What kind of threats do you think AI poses to cybersecurity?
There are several, like phishing campaigns are becoming a lot more realistic because of AI. The misconception is that AI is being used by hackers when actually it’s been being used for three to five years. Now they’re using AI to put together real-life phishing campaigns that are much more realistic and can target people better than what it was before when you would get one about the prince of Nigeria wanting to give you part of his wealth and all the words were spelled wrong, which is on purpose by the way. They’re now able to create more malware quicker as they’re putting AI in the hands of people that can ask a couple questions and it spits out lines of code for them. They would never have had the ability to do that previously.
The other thing that I’m somewhat concerned about is people relying on AI to solve what they believe are all their problems through new security technologies. They say they have AI or machine learning and stop relying on their people, but this is still a people business and there still needs to be some oversight there. I really press people and say just because you install the tool when it says it’s going to do ABC, there needs to be a human there that is checking that to make sure that it’s actually happening.
On the flip side, what are the opportunities you think AI can have in cybersecurity?
Specifically for me it’s around our own SOC (security operations center). There’s an Oxford paper that’s written that 99 percent of all alerts that hit a SOC are false positives. That’s a daunting job. No matter how well you tune it, it’s still going to end up being around 99 percent false positives. Otherwise, that means that you have something really drastically going wrong and you’re completely under attack if all of these alerts that you are getting are true alerts. I believe that AI will play a really large part in being able to reduce the noise of those alerts that come in. That frontline level work will then get actionable alerts into the hands of humans to then reach out and take action on those and dig a little bit deeper. They’ll take on what I consider the frontline of looking at all these alerts, correlating the data and then spitting out actionable data to employees to take action on.
What does the channel need more of?
I think for me personally the channel could use more transparency. What I mean by that is they say that there’s 83,000-plus MSPs out there and most of us work really well together and we foster relationships. But I still feel like there’s a little bit of, ‘I don’t want to tell you everything that I’m doing from a secret sauce perspective.’ If there was more transparency, we could build tighter bonds and push each other’s businesses forward even more. It’s the old saying of like I can give the worst cook in the world the best recipe and they still are not going to bake it the right way.
I am a really transparent person. I will tell you how we do it soup to nuts, but at the end of the day it’s all about the operator. I just wish there was more of that because I feel like many of us have faced challenges in our career that maybe we wouldn’t have had to face if there was more transparency. Challenges are good, and from a leadership perspective I will say that the one thing that I’ve learned is when to allow someone to fail to learn a lesson without letting them fail at something that is a catastrophic event. Being a good leader isn’t about making sure that no one ever faces challenges or has to go over hurdles or fails, it’s more about knowing what things to let them fail at or what challenges to let them face.
What makes Logically different than the competition?
It is that we are a cyber-first company and we have that as part of our core values. We have an 80-person business unit, they’re cybersecurity professionals and they do that all day every day. That’s not a knock at other MSPs because we all started there. My example is and remains that the person that shows up to work on your printer is not the same person that works on your firewall. Cybersecurity is so different.
What is your focus on in 2024?
We have a vision that we call One Logically and that is bringing all of these businesses together in complete. Our vision is to be cyber first and future ready leading with cybersecurity, but internally continuing to become more efficient. We used to have 70 different pieces of software that were running 12 different businesses. Now we only have 30 pieces of software. It’s how lean can we get on that type of efficiency. It’s the same from a service delivery model, making sure that no matter who you call into anywhere in the United States, when you’re talking to any one of our engineers you’re getting service that is delivered exactly the same way.