At first glance, a partnership between Tigerpaw Software and Labtech Software -- announced today -- is minor news. But take a closer look and I think the Tigerpaw-Labtech relationship represents a key moment for everyone in the managed services market, regardless of which software tools you use. Here's why.
First, some background for those who are somewhat new to the managed services market:
- Tigerpaw Software competes in the PSA (professional services automation) software market against rivals like ConnectWise and Autotask.
- Labtech Software competes in the RMM (remote monitoring and management) software market against numerous rivals.
But here's where things get complicated: Labtech is backed by ConnectWise Capital. As a result, some skeptics therefore think it will be (A) more difficult for ConnectWise to maintain vendor-neutral partnerships with RMM partners, and (B) more difficult for Labtech to maintain vendor-neutral relationships with PSA software providers.
Still, I'm keeping an open mind. As are plenty of readers. Assuming the Tigerpaw-Labtech relationship delivers on its promised integration, the partnership is a healthy sign for MSPs and VARs seeking open standards and open APIs (application programming interfaces) even as the MSP software landscape evolves.
Familiar TerritoryPrivately, some people criticized ConnectWise for setting up ConnectWise Capital and pumping money into LabTech. The reason: The move potentially creates competitive friction between ConnectWise and its established RMM partners.
My opinion: You can't ignore history. In most mature markets, software companies both compete and cooperate. Prime examples:
- Oracle cooperates with Microsoft's Windows Server team but competes with Microsoft's SQL Server team
- SAP cooperates with Oracle's database team but competes with Oracle's application team
- Microsoft cooperates with IBM's hardware team but competes with IBM's Lotus team
- And the list goes on and on...
PSA and RMM: Cooperating and CompetingSome clear battle lines have been drawn in the MSP software market. Autotask has stated that it has no plans to become an RMM provider. Tigerpaw seems to be taking a similar stance. Plus, most of the major RMM players say they have no plans to introduce PSA capabilities.
In stark contrast, ConnectWise Capital will ultimately move in multiple directions -- investing in companies like Labtech and CharTec (the hardware as a service specialist). And Kaseya, the RMM specialist, has announced a forthcoming offering called Business Center PSA.
Instead of questioning industry coopetition, MSPs should raise their voices to ensure APIs remain open and integration work continues. If a vendor doesn't live up to their API and integration promises then call them out on the topic. A prime example: It sounds like MSPs have been pushing ConnectWise and Zenith Infotech for closer integration. And in recent weeks it sounds like that work has been happening. Bottom line: Software companies want your business. So speak up and express your needs.
And when companies like Tigerpaw and Labtech take the time to shake hands, sit back and enjoy the moment. It's proof positive that MSPs can win even as the competitive software landscape evolves.
Here Comes MicrosoftWe're only at the start of the competitive evolution. A prime example: Most of the major RMM vendors have relationships with Microsoft. Yet Microsoft is preparing Windows Intune, a SaaS service that will potentially compete in the RMM space.
Bottom line: MSPs should get used to the software industry coopetition. It will only intensify in the months ahead.
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