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September 5, 2013
Autotask VP of Product Management Patrick Burns sounds calm and focused. And for good reason: He has a pretty clear mandate at the MSP-centric cloud company: “We have a singular mission: Continually improve our platform.” Near-term that means an intense focus on so-called dashboards. Plus, Burns is mixing in a few business trips to foreign lands — some of which could unlock Autotask’s next growth opportunities. Here’s the update.
Autotask, like rival ConnectWise, grew up in the classic PSA (professional services automation) software market. But in the past three years or so, each company has spent less time barking about the rival and more time pursuing new business opportunities — often diversifying along the way.
In Autotask’s case, that meant localizing its cloud-based business management platform for MSPs worldwide. Growth areas have included Europe and Australia.
There are signs that Autotask is taking a close look at the Brazil market. “We’re in that market without even trying right now,” said Burns. But to truly succeed, Autotask will need to localize its software for Brazilian Portuguese. The potential goal is to help MSPs ride Brazil’s technology infrastructure build-out, fueled by the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
On the technology front, Burns says it has been one month since Autotask delivered a major general release update that may have been the “biggest development cycle ever” at the company.
Specifically, new dashboards within Autotask allow MSPs to track long-term business trends and plan accordingly — instead of getting bogged down in day-to-day data. “It’s like the difference between weather (how things look right now) and climate knowledge (which allows for long-term planning).”
Autotask’s Performance Dashboards currently track Service Desk Operations and Sales and Opportunity Management. Additional Dashboards, coming later this year, include Client Reporting (September), Financial Management (October) and Project Portfolio Management (Q4 2013).
“Visually, you can get a strong indication of what’s happening in your business,” said Burns. “We can also manage composite overlays of multiple data sets. An example would be ticket overlays with customer performance and customer satisfaction information.”
Aggregate data gives MSPs the trending business performance. An analysis page let’s you understand why. “In this business it’s all about the why,” Burns said. “For instance, why is my digital signage pracrice less profitable than my other service offerings? We help MSPs determine the ‘why’ of it all.”
So what’s next? Imagine Autotask’s MSPs measuring their performance against aggregate industry information — also contained in Autotask’s cloud.
Burns confirms that the concept is on the mark, though he’s not ready to pre-announce that potential capability just yet…
If I had to pinpoint the moment Burns gained true clarity, I think it involved Autotask’s decision to sell off the VARStreet business in late 2011.
VARstreet is an online platform that helps channel partners to source IT products. But the Autotask-VARstreet combination — first announced in 2010 — never hit its stride. I suspect Burns and the Autotask development team were stretched thin during the VARstreet days.
Shortly after CEO Mark Cattini arrived in late 2010, he pushed for an open API and cross-platform browser strategy. Next, he sold off the VARstreet business and pursued the global expansion strategy.
Burns and the Autotask technology team responded by localizing the cloud platform and extended its feature set — including the latest dashboards. If I had to guess, it sounds like 2014 could bring more localization moves.
Welcome to Rio, Autotask?
Read more about:MSPs
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