TL; DR: Agio is a trusted cloud hosting company that caters to financial services firms. It offers hosting, cybersecurity, and predictive intelligence services and focuses on midmarket institutions. The company stepped into the market after the financial crisis of 2008 when it saw a gap in hosting services coverage for midsize firms. Now, Agio aims to form strategic partnerships to help clients help manage all of their infrastructure and IT support services.
The financial services industry deals with significant market pressure and constant change, which is now driven by technology. That means financial services firms are constantly working to secure data and modernize infrastructure to stay successful.
A reliable hosting partner is vital to achieving those goals. However, not all financial services institutions have access to right-sized options.
When cloud hosting company Agio entered the market, large and small companies had plenty of hosting options that catered to their needs. But according to Agio Founder and CEO Bart McDonough, the midmarket didn’t have many choices available.
At the time, Bart worked for a midsize hedge fund that needed secure, reliable cloud hosting options.
“We wanted someone to help us out,” Bart said. “And it felt like it was either the very small MSP or a very large one.”
Agio helps those financial services companies by taking on part or all of their infrastructure operations. It typically works with midsize firms that employ between 50 and 500 people. That service allows firms to focus on other tasks, streamline operations, and free up their financial teams.
The company launched during a difficult period for many financial firms — The Great Recession. The 2008 financial crisis caused many surviving firms to look inward and reflect on their business practices. Top of mind for many of those firms were finding areas to improve efficiency and save on operating costs.
Agio can help midsize firms do both.
Helping Clients by Blending IT and Cybersecurity Solutions
Bart said his hedge fund’s financial activity was relatively low at the time, yet it had IT support that charged it like a top-tier company.
“So, the owner of the firm said, ‘Listen, I’m trading very little, why am I still paying the full amount for IT support?’ It was in the early days of consumption-based pricing. We wanted to think about that for the support side and not just the infrastructure side. When I realized it wasn’t there, I saw this as a blue ocean in the market.”
Midmarket financial firms often find outsourcing companies that will happily offshore IT support for large enterprises and charge many times the amount of smaller vendors. Or, they find small, inexperienced IT support operations that are unfamiliar with their technology. Either way, those organizations may feel stuck in the middle without solid options.
Agio runs infrastructure on their behalf and seeks to provide midmarket firms with a strategic partnership that fills in the gap for CTOs and serves as an extension of in-house teams. Although its organization and offerings have grown over time, Agio remains focused only on the financial services sector. And the company doesn’t currently plan to expand to other industries or business classes.
“I focused on that midmarket and thought it was an opportunity to help CTOs. Not just run it, but be a partner to help run that infrastructure,” Bart said. “What started becoming a differentiator — in addition to our industry-specific experience — is that we started providing robust cybersecurity services. We became more holistic.”
Agio introduced new offerings as interest in cloud hosting, backups, public cloud, and cloud file serving has grown in the past few years. Bart said that the company’s mid-size customers also find digital transformation appealing, but that paradigm shift means they need to approach IT proactively. For some companies, that may mean a bit of soul-searching about how the organization uses technology, calculates billing, and relates to technology vendors.
Removing Friction and Bringing Joy to Financial Services Technology
Agio wants to help its clients see IT services through the lens of how well their systems function instead of how much effort they take to maintain.
That strategic shift isn’t just about their partnership with Agio. Bart said he believes it is also beneficial for clients. Organizations that evaluate technology by the value their IT vendor delivers are likely to get more from their investments. Rather than consistently paying more to repair broken systems, clients pay Agio to ensure their systems start at maximum functionality.
Agio also offers clients higher uptime and availability, so they don’t experience IT costs for managing downtime incidents.
“The world where the value we provide was measured in the activity we did was very reactionary. So, at the end of the month, clients would ask about how many broken things we fixed. I’m oversimplifying, but that really was the value proposition,” Bart said. “And what’s changed is we are trying to lead. It’s no longer about how much effort we spend reactively. It’s about how well your systems run.”
Agio’s current value proposition is multifaceted. According to Bart, Agio ultimately aims to save customers time, reduce costs, help them regain peace of mind, and enable them to increase their ROI. That is why the company emphasizes measurable results, including high uptime, lack of service interruptions, and a lack of cyberattacks.
When IT services function without unnecessary friction, financial services firms have a more positive relationship with their technology. That empowers businesses to focus on providing better experiences for their customers.
Bart said that clients could experience the benefits of proactive IT by spending less time worrying about technology and tech support.
Agio: Customer Experience Models and Automation Inform Innovation
Agio also leverages AI and other technologies to provide better service. As the IT support market shifts, Bart said he believes that many MSP pricing models will be left behind because they can’t keep up with customer needs and market expectations.
“My overall market view is that, right now, MSPs look like the yellow cab market in the late 2000s. An Uber and a Lyft will emerge,” Bart said. “We firmly expect to be one of those. There will be consolidation.”
Preparing for that market involves listening closely to customers and delivering on promises, which are vital parts of Agio’s plan to stay competitive. Agio is constantly modeling CX and analyzing to inform its team.
“We try to figure out who is not having a good experience. Then, we do some analysis that informs our product development team on what to build, what to automate, and we self-heal all of that,” Bart said.
Agio is still looking for ways to become more proactive because it believes technology and IT support can be better designed around customer needs. That concept could ultimately help change the perception of tech support.
“We want to be that proactive help desk — versus waiting for you to call when there’s a problem,” Bart said.