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Going beyond the ASP roadblock.

When you come to a roadblock, there are basically two options: spend time hammering away at it, or take another road. St. Paul-based Agiliti chose the latter route and that, as they say, has made all the difference. Dave Walstad, vice president of sales and marketing, talks about ASPs, perception, and the joys of customer problems.

The company began as an ASP aggregator, but moved away from that model; why?

At the time, the tech hype was kind of feeding the ASP frenzy, there were a lot of folks in the marketplace. Also, the concept of the ASP was quite new, so the customer base wasn’t ready to accept a rentable application over the Internet, and the breadth of the portfolio we were providing was a challenge to sell effectively. We were an inch deep and a mile wide. So, in order to deliver those services, we needed to develop an IT infrastructure to host those applications, and that’s when we found out from customers that that’s what they wanted.

How did you make the transition?

We took those applications and mothballed them, then took a flexible IT infrastructure so customers could determine what applications they wanted, and went from there. So, we provide IT outsourcing at a fundamental level.

Do you think the ASP model will ever live up to its previous hype?

A lot of us in the industry still believe the model will become a reality, but it’s a matter of time. What the market is demanding now is an IT infrastructure that sits below those applications, that offers the ability to scale up and down, do risk mitigations, and configure critical systems so they can never be down. Customers also have to change the way they think.

How should customers be thinking about ASPs?

It’s a revolutionary shift in perception as well as technology. When ASPs were introduced, applications that had been hosted and delivered within a building’s walls were now living externally, and for many managers the concept of having key data reside outside was a big step mentally. You can show them that there’s no security issue and that it’s cost-effective, but there’s still that mental block to get over. The market is turning, but it will probably still be an evolution rather than a revolution.

What kinds of clients do you have at Agiliti?

Our largest customers are software providers who have been stamping CDs and shipping them out, and now find that they’re require to deliver a networked version just to keep up with their competitors. They come to us as kind of a rentable infrastructure so they can go to market.

What do you like most about what the company does?

It’s interesting to deal with different types of technology. We have clients in everything from marketing to health care, and they all use technology a little bit differently, although at the core they’re dealing with similar issues. It’s fun to take technology building blocks and snap them together to address different kinds of problems. Also, we all love solving customer problems. That sounds corny, but it’s true. Everyone here gets up in the morning and looks forward to helping customers. We’re all kind of evangelists here, we all believe in the model, and we see the clear benefits when we get customers who share that vision. We become an extension of their companies, of their IT groups, and we appreciate the confidence they place in us.

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