Work Market Prepares Free PSA In The Cloud

Work Market Prepares Free PSA In The Cloud

Former OnForce CEO Jeffrey Leventhal is preparing his next business move. It's called Work Market -- a SaaS-based labor resource management platform for VARs and managed services providers. Work Market, hosted in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), is set to include a range of features -- including some PSA (professional services automation) capabilities. Here's the strategy.

Leventhal certainly has a grand vision for Work Market. The beta platform will shift to production in January 2011, offering project management, labor management (for employees, contractors and partners) and free PSA capabilities to solutions providers. But just how much PSA will Work Market offer? In Leventhal's mind: Enough to spark interest from VARs and MSPs, though it doesn't sound like he'll match established players feature-for-feature.

Still, let's keep Leventhal's efforts in perspective -- especially as they relate to key trends in the managed services market. Free doesn't always guarantee success. And very often, paid platforms continue to generate growth even as free alternatives find their niche.

A prime example is the remote monitoring and management (RMM) software market. Spiceworks offers a free, advertising-based remote monitoring platform, but anecdotal evidence suggests the paid RMM software market also continues to grow.

Over in the PSA market, some upstarts (such as Own Web Now's Shockey Monkey effort) have tried to disrupt the PSA market. Also, Kaseya has been building a Business Center PSA offering. But the established PSA industry players (primarily ConnectWise, Autotask and Tigerpaw Software) have done a good job building loyal communities, which help to fuel long-term growth.

One could argue that the ConnectWise IT Nation conference is now the IT channel's biggest annual summit. Meanwhile, Autotask Community Live has grown each year since launch; and Tigerpaw has just confirmed the date and location for its second-annual summit (Oct. 19-21, 2011, Dallas, Texas). I believe those face-to-face engagements generate long-term loyalty, and stronger relationships between vendors and customers (in this case, VARs and MSPs).

Pursuing Big IT Vendors?

I doubt Work Market will try to build a channel community through conferences and events. But I do think Leventhal will try to work with larger integrators, solutions providers and technology companies that need project management, labor management and some PSA rolled all into one SaaS  platform. Afterall, Leventhal and his Work Market team had relationships with global 2000 IT companies during their time at OnForce. The trend may repeat itself at Work Market.

Another thought: Rather than disrupting the traditional PSA players, I wonder if Work Market will wind up competing a bit with NetSuite OpenAir, a cloud-based PSA system used by thousands of IT contractors and business leaders in other verticals.

To reiterate: Work Market remains in beta, so we won't get any preliminary answers until some early production customers come online in January 2011.

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