ATS is stepping on out, and Rene LaVigne’s got the scoop on its strategy

You can feel the enthusiasm just talking to him. For the past four years, Rene LaVigne, president and COO of ATS, a division of Apptis, has been working to grow the company both organically and through a number of acquisitions. That move has paid off in a big way. In the following Q&A, LaVigne shares some of the restrategizing moves that have accompanied that growth, and lets us in on some hot trends that will affect anyone and everyone with a stake in the IT marketplace.

Tell us the latest at Apptis.

Rene LaVigne: Apptis has been on a significant growth spurt over the past four years — growing both organically and through the acquisition of a number of companies. While in the process of integrating those companies, we took a hard look at how we were positioned in the market. We determined that we had two unique businesses distributed across five vertical markets.

As a result, in late 2007 we reorganized our business into two distinct divisions: Apptis Services, which supports longer term service programs, and Apptis Technology Solutions (ATS), which is more project-oriented and focused on technology infrastructure.

The ATS side of the business is focused in three principle areas: Our most significant business area is converged networking and communications; followed by our data center management and client optimization practices.

What hot trends will impact your customers?

Rene LaVigne: “Green IT” is a growing trend in the IT marketplace. We all know it is a hot consumer trend and environmental awareness is growing. However, there is a distinct business element, as well, and an opportunity to save and optimize financial and environmental resources. We think that is a burgeoning opportunity.

Enhanced communications and use of collaboration tools is another growing trend. I think you are going to see more and more federal IT organizations focused in this area, especially those with distributed resources.

A third trend we are seeing is related to the data center. Agencies and companies spend a great deal of funds to build out and improve upon their data centers, but they aren’t getting the best return from those centers. Emerging technologies and methodologies for consolidation and virtualization approaches will help to optimize these infrastructures

What’s your biggest challenge been today?

Rene LaVigne: First and foremost it’s finding the right talent to keep up with our rapid growth, then deploying that talent to the right places. With our new organizational structure, we are better equipped to concentrate our resources where they are needed, and get better results for our clients and partners.

When someone hears Apptis Technology Solutions, what do you want them to think about?

Rene LaVigne: Apptis Technology Solutions — “the preeminent player in the technology solutions space.” We are a half billion-dollar business today, with the goal of being a billion dollars within the next four years. We want to be known as the company clients look to for thought leadership and innovative solutions to address their business problems and enhance their offerings to their own clients and constituents.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Rene LaVigne: I believe in leveraging key leadership in the organization, developing a collaborative and goal-oriented plan, encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit, providing freedom and flexibility within corporate parameters to accomplish the objectives where we hold each other accountable through agreed upon metrics and measurements.

What advice you would give someone looking to partner with ATS?

Rene LaVigne: It’s an alliance-based world, both for small and large businesses. In today’s marketplace, some days you’re competing, some days you’re partnering, and some days you’re deciding what you’re going to be on the next opportunity. To succeed in this marketplace, companies must be true to themselves. You have to understand your capabilities, differentiate yourself, focus on those things, and deliver on them.

What is something people don’t know about you personally?

Rene LaVigne: Most people don’t know that I’m a finance guy by trade and at heart. I spent 10 years at Ernst & Young performing audits, business advisory services and IPOs and it was that platform that provided me an opportunity in the technology industry.

Interview with Rene LaVigne conducted by JD Kathuria

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