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Autotask puts on unified front to MSPs

Autotask continues to build on PSA platform in bid to offer ‘unified’ managed services

MSP software vendor Autotask this week hosted its annual customer get-together, Autotask Community Live in Miami.

While there was less focus on big announcements – with the exception of a new backup and recovery product, Autotask Endpoint Backup (AEB) – the vendor took the opportunity to reiterate its growth as a company, and drive home how it is ‘unifying’ its platform.

“We’re taking a different view as to what our role is,” said Autotask CEO Mark Cattini, who revealed he had spent time revaluating the vendor’s value proposition and core value to customers. “I thought about it, and our job is to provide you with a platform that enables you to deliver a superior customer service…to deliver your services profitably and efficiently,” he told MSP customers attending the event.

The ‘unification’ theme in evidence throughout refers to Autotask merging its RMM (remote monitoring and management) capabilities with its traditional PSA (Professional Services Automation) platform, integrating a growing number of features that include its new Autotask Endpoint Backup (AEB), Autotask Endpoint Management (AEM), and its file sync and share (FSS) solution, Autotask Workplace (AWP). This prompted Cattini to describe it as “one platform from beginning to endpoint”.

The CEO said Autotask has almost doubled its business in two years; it now has 75,000 users in 125 countries, translating to 9000 customers on its platform – 3300 of which are outside the US. It is now billing $6bn in annual IT services and sales – a combination of new customer acquisition and pursuing a greater share of its MSP customers’ wallets through this expanding portfolio of services, including AEM, AEB and AWP.

Focus on endpoint management

What was evident was a spotlight on managing Autotask’s end customers’ endpoint devices. Cattini revealed there had been a four-fold increase in the number of devices managed by AEM in the last 18 months.

Autotask’s own customer research reports that the number one driver of revenue among MSPs in 2016 is endpoint management, with 55 percent of IT service providers expecting “significant growth.”

As a result, we saw the official launch this week of Autotask’s own backup and recovery product, Autotask Endpoint Backup (AEB). The firm reckons its integration into the PSA platform means it’s easier for MSPs to manage, compared to selling alternative backup and recovery vendors.

“With Autotask Endpoint Backup, we’ve leveraged our core platform to streamline the operational and business process of an endpoint backup practice,” commented Pat Burns, Autotask’s VP of product management. “AEB is fully unified with Autotask Endpoint Management and PSA using automation and analytics to bring managed services to market with greater effectiveness and profitability.”

Speaking with customers at this week, it seems they are happy with the direction in which the vendor is headed. As an aside, there was some wry smiles when discussing the current public war of words between rival MSP software firms ConnectWise and Kaseya – and it appears Autotask is happy to sit back and let the show play out.

UK expansion

There was some good news for Autotask’s UK customers, too. Off the back of its international growth, the company is set to open a second UK office in Manchester by the end of the year. The firm plans to add 15 sales, service and support staff to the 75 based at its EMEA headquarters in Richmond.

Mark Banfield, SVP and GM of Autotask’s International business, says the new office is off the back of continued strong international growth for the firm. “I like the idea of having lots of small offices, closer to the customer. Where do we win? We win big when we have proximity close to the customer. We can build better relationships, we can develop services for them, we can provide training and I can see a scenario when maybe we have an office in Central London, or an office in Bristol.

“Our MSPs are in these locations because they want to be close to their customers, so it stands to reason we need to be close to them.”

Autotask opened an office in Amsterdam earlier this year, and is also looking to add a sales office Nordics office in Copenhagen. Despite having its EMEA HQ in the UK, Banfield said it was too early still to tell what effect Brexit will have on the firm’s future plans for the region.

What’s next?

Cattini this week revealed his plans for ‘unified managed services’ in response to customer demand – meaning the vendor will continue to add more features to its PSA platform. “We have taken this core platform and pre-packed and operationalised revenue-generating managed services that you can manage through your Autotask unified managed platform.”

The vendor’s acquisition by private investment firm Vista Equity in 2014 has already paved the way for a couple of significant purchases for Autotask, namely RMM player CentraStage and file sync and share company, SoonR. Cattini has previously said the firm is open to further acquisition, and perhaps a security player might be next on the list. Banfield this week noted areas such as antivirus and email security could be of interest – in line with the Autotask’s focus on device management.

With an increasing number of organisations handing over their IT requirements over to MSPs, the addition of further revenue-generating services is likely to be viewed positively by Autotask customers.

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