January 7, 2014
Question: How does a software product transform from a niche into a true platform? The answer: APIs (application programming interfaces) and SDKs (software development kits) that attract ISVs (independent software vendors). Salesforce.com learned that lesson a decade ago. Now, Autotask and ConnectWise each are racing to apply the lesson to their respective business managment products. Here’s why.
When Salesforce.com was emerging as a top cloud CRM system, CEO Marc Benioff met with Apple CEO Steve Jobs. At the time, Jobs told Benioff that applications come and go — but platforms survive for the long haul. To this day, Benioff credits the late Jobs for the creative spark that launched Salesforce AppExchange in 2005.
Same Story, Different Market
Autotask and ConnectWise — among the leading providers of business management software to MSPs and VARs — have been focused on their own platform efforts as well.
When Mark Cattini arrived as Autotask CEO in December 2010, he soon vowed to make sure the company offered open APIs and open web browser support. Len DiCostanzo, senior VP of community and business development, has led the ISV charge.
Similarly, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini has vowed to keep his company’s APIs open while also building out a marketplace for ISVs in 2012 and introducing a beta SDK in 2013.
Raising the Stakes
Today, the stakes got even higher. ConnectWise has named Jeannine Edwards to drive the company’s ISV and developer relations. Edwards has already built the MSP industry’s most-successful partner ecosystem — organizing the annual IT Nation conference as well as ConnectWise User Groups in North America, Europe and Australia (and beyond?).
Moreover, ConnectWise has helped many MSPs to become ISVs in their own right. Many of those companies have used the IT Nation conference to launch their ISV or cloud businesses. One prime example is inhouseIT’s launch of Nuvotera, a cloud aggregation platform that debuted in November 2013.
Still, it’s important to keep the managed services ecosystem in perspective. My best guess: ConnectWise and its sister companies generate about $100 million in annual revenues, with Autotask at about $45 million or so. That’s a relatively small figure compared to publicly traded cloud companies. But with ISV backing, Autotask and ConnectWise each can exponentially expand their impact — while also raising the overall power of MSPs plugging into their systems.
Blueprints for Success?
Think of it this way:
Microsoft dominated the 1990s with the Win32 API.
Apple iOS and Google Android dominate the mobile market with their SDKs and online app stores.
Salesforce transformed into a platform provider with AppExchange.
I’m not suggesting that ConnectWise or Autotask can build ISV followings nearly as large. Or am I…?
About the Author(s)
You May Also Like