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Autotask Community Live 2017: MSP tools meet transformation

Autotask discussed digital transformation, product line unification and technology roadmaps at the company's annual meeting for service providers.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The technology that managed service providers use to run their businesses can also help customers reinvent their operations.

That's one takeaway from this week's Autotask Community Live 2017 conference, the IT business management software vendor's annual MSP meetup. While automated systems enable MSPs to deliver services efficiently and profitably, those tools can also free up time to deal with customer's digital transformation initiatives, Autotask executives suggested.

Mark Cattini, president and CEO of Autotask, said software-driven digital transformation powers enterprises from Amazon to Uber, but he noted small and medium-sized businesses -- a core target market for many channel partners -- are also on notice to recast themselves to remain relevant. But MSPs may need to change to help clients transform.

"Many of you are going to have to think about being a business technologist," Cattini told MSP attendees at the conference, which wraps up Sept. 19.

Mark Cattini, president and CEO, AutotaskMark Cattini

He said customers are demanding digital transformation and if MSPs don't deliver, those customers will turn elsewhere for services. Automation, however, can pave the way for MSPs to offer the more forward-looking services. In Autotask's case, the company provides tools such as professional services automation (PSA), remote monitoring and management (RMM), file sync and share, and file backup.

Individual products, such as file sync and share, can directly contribute to a customer's digital transformation. But the Autotask product line, as a whole, provides "a broad umbrella" that lets service providers automate and manage tactical, manual chores, so their personnel can play a more strategic role with customers, said Pat Burns, vice president of product management and strategy at the company.

Time-consuming management tasks can hinder service providers aspiring to offer higher value-added services. Indeed, Autotask's annual IT service provider survey, dubbed Metrics that Matter, revealed many companies waste "up to 10 billable hours each week on manual processes that can be easily automated." The survey, released at Autotask Community Live 2017, identified entering data into multiple systems and an inability to accurately capture billable hours among the top culprits. More than 1,030 service provider respondents participated in the survey.

Putting it all together

Product unification was another key theme at the conference, as it was at the 2016 event when Autotask unveiled Autotask Endpoint Backup as the fourth component of its product suite. The backup product lends channel partners the ability to offer backup services that work with other Autotask products, such as its PSA offering.

Many of you are going to have to think about being a business technologist.
Mark Cattinipresident and CEO, Autotask

A year later, many of the company's service provider customers have gone beyond one-product implementations. Cattini said more than half of MSPs reported using two or more Autotask products.

Users of multiple products have additional integrations on the horizon. Burns said the company's approach is to pursue database- and interface-level integration, noting the first phase of unification focuses on PSA. "That's because it is the most foundational piece of the platform," he noted.

Integration initiatives, meanwhile, extend beyond the Autotask product set. Cattini said the company's PSA software offers a significant footprint, but added there are areas outside the scope of a PSA that the company doesn't cover. For those, Autotask continues to invest in integrations, he said, noting a total of 160 partner-built integrations.

"It's about product adoption," Cattini said. "We need to make it easier for you to adopt the products."

Project UI revamp in the works

As for individual products, Autotask customers can expect the next major releases of the company's PSA and RMM (Autotask Endpoint Management) products in early 2018, Burns said. File sync and share (Autotask Workplace) and Autotask Endpoint Backup will be up for major releases prior to the PSA and RMM updates, he said.

In another product move outlined at Autotask Community Live 2017, Autotask PSA's project task component will get a new user interface (UI) along the lines of the much-anticipated revised ticket UI. Burns said the latest UI effort will ship considerably sooner because Autotask's engineers will be able to take advantage of reusable frameworks and UI controls from the earlier ticket project.

Burns said the reusable components "will save a lot of time."

MSPs can look for that UI development in 2018.

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