Autotask Corp.'s global strategy is now fully unveiled. After weeks of hints, the business management software provider has confirmed plans to localize Autotask's cloud platform in at least six languages (in addition to English) across Europe and Asia.
In an official announcement, Autotask said it is expanding global operations and translating its hosted software into six languages: German and Mandarin Chinese (in early Q1 2012) and Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese (end of Q1 2012). Autotask says 25 percent of its customers -- VARs, MSPs and IT service providers -- are located outside the U.S. The strategy also involves adding feet on the street -- full-time Autotask employees -- in London, England; Beijing, China; and Pune, India.
Behind the scenes, it sounds like Autotask is planning multi-language integrations several RMM (remote monitoring and management) software companies. Two potential partners (in my opinion/off the top of my head): Kaseya, which has made major moves in China and Asia since 2009; and Level Platforms, which recently signed a distribution agreement with Hitachi in Japan.
Big PictureAutotask CEO Mark Cattini described the international push at length to MSPmentor. Cattini joined Autask in December 2010, and he has since made multiple executive changes at the company before unveiling the international strategy. "It’s a significant initiative and we’re well-funded to do it," Cattini asserted. "Yes, Autotask is SaaS from the ground up. But from an international perspective, I realized Autotask was artificially locked into one geography [North America]. We’ve artificially restricted ourselves."
After opening an Autotask office in London, Cattini has set his sights on Germany. "We think it’s the second largest market [for potential Autotask users] in the world." Cattini estimates that Germany has 15,000 to 20,000 VARs, MSPs and IT service providers that are "largely untouched and right on the cusp of going MSP. We are putting offices and people on the ground in Germany." Autotask is also heading to an IT conference in Barcelona in October 2011, Cattini noted.
On the RMM front, Cattini confirms that localized partnerships are coming. "Without going into specifics we already are working on that; it's well underway."
Cattini claims that Autotask will face little or no competition in some international markets. "Particularly from the SaaS angle, we're surprised [by the lack of alternatives]. A big piece of the addressable market in Europe will largely be browser based. And a big piece of this will be implementation and support on the ground."
Several times during our conversation, Cattini promised that international customers will receive localized support and won't always be funneled back to U.S. support switchboards that aren't familiar with local customs and business processes.
"You have to understand how an MSP works and support them locally," added Autotask Senior VP of Global Sales Kevin Donovan. "We can’t do that effectively over the phone from New York. We need to be on the ground, internationally." Autotask is headquartered near Albany, N.Y.
The bottom line for Autotask: Cattini claims the International market "triples and maybe quadruples Autotask's market opportunity."
Familiar FoeStill, there are challenges abound. Some international markets may have little or no entrenched competitors. But ConnectWise, the well-known Autotask rival, has successfully built loyal user groups across North America, Europe and Australia. Some ConnectWise team members are in Europe this week for a multi-city road show.
Although most partners run ConnectWise on-premise, ConnectWise has introduced hosted versions of its software in Europe, South Africa and Australia. In an August 2011 email exchange, ConnectWise Director of Community Jeannine Edwards mentioned the following data points to me:
- Hosted ConnectWise now has 14,500 users today, up from about 10,000 users in January 2011, across all four cloud instances (North America, Europe, South Africa and Australia).
- The largest Hosted ConnectWise growth has been in Australia (72 percent).
- ConnectWise has doubled the performance of its cloud instances starting with the April 2011 release, known as ConnectWise 2011.2.
Elsewhere, there certainly are European companies that specialize in PSA (professional services automation) -- a catch-all phrase to describe business management software for VARs and MSPs. Names that come to mind include Severa (recently acquired by Visma) and Commit CRM of Israel. Tigerpaw Software of the U.S. also has a few International deals in place, including a distribution relationship in Australia.
In addition to facing those rivals, Autotask must also deal with a market reality: Localizing SaaS and cloud software can be an expensive, time consuming effort. Extending Autotask beyond English to six languages -- German, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese -- is a tall order, especially since all the work is scheduled to be completed in early 2012. We'll monitor Autotask's progress.