IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

ConnectWise Outlines Product Vision Based on Automation, Integration, and Choice

Speaking at the company’s 2018 Automation Nation event today, Chief Product Officer Craig Fulton (pictured) described a platform philosophy aimed at offering MSPs single-pane-of-glass control over its own solutions and those from its ecosystem of partners. By Rich Freeman

In a classic case of heeding one’s own advice, ConnectWise is both advising its MSP partners to put customer needs first and embracing that philosophy in its products.

“The most successful businesses that we’ve seen at ConnectWise and we’ve talked to and I’ve seen networking here are focusing on the customer first and the technology second,” said Chief Product Officer Craig Fulton this morning in a keynote presentation at the managed services software maker’s 2018 Automation Nation event, which kicked off yesterday in Orlando.

Tampa, Fla.-based ConnectWise is following suit, Fulton added in an interview today with ChannelPro, by basing all of its product, platform, and strategic decisions on the needs of the MSPs who rely on its products.

“We’ve become very focused on our partners,” he said, noting that the company now regularly sends developers to meet directly with customers. The firsthand view that provides of the latest MSP opportunities and challenges enables ConnectWise to deliver the features its users most need more rapidly.

“If I can get the product team more engaged with the community, we can move faster,” says Fulton.

The most urgent issues MSPs face at present, he stressed during his keynote, stem from the increasingly complex tasks they must perform. Selling and servicing traditional on-premises infrastructure is relatively simple, Fulton observed. Managing a hybrid cloud environment combining onsite and offsite assets from a range of suppliers utilizing a variety of billing schemes isn’t.

“That’s lot to keep track of,” Fulton noted.

The overarching goal of ConnectWise’s product strategy, he continued, is to ease that complexity through a combination of automation and integration. The automation piece of the formula seeks to liberate technicians and service managers from the hassles associated with tedious, time-consuming, yet essential tasks like mapping networks, preparing invoices, and processing orders.

“We want to take away the hard parts of the job,” Fulton told ChannelPro.

The company wants to make the relatively easier parts of the job easier still as well by integrating all of the solutions MSPs need to serve their clients, and providing “single pane of glass” control over them wherever possible.

To illustrate the point, this morning’s keynote included demonstrations of recent changes to the ConnectWise platform aimed at enabling users to view and act on information in multiple solutions without jumping from one system to another.

“There’s tremendous value in having everything in one place,” Fulton says.

And by everything, he emphasizes, ConnectWise means not only its own products but products from others as well. The company has made embedding data and functionality from third-party BDR and security solutions, for example, directly within its own product interfaces a top priority.

It also maintains a dedicated “ecosystem team” tasked with building a comprehensive menu of product categories that MSPs care about and then ensuring multiple third-party vendors in each of those categories tightly integrate their offerings with the ConnectWise platform.

“You need to have choice in this solutions menu,” Fulton observed in his keynote. “We’re delivering a solution that brings it all together.”

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