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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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June 19, 2018 |

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.

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.”

Though ConnectWise pioneered the concept of the managed services software suite, its product strategy stands in contrast with those of competitors like Kaseya Ltd. and Datto Inc. Both companies, while offering open APIs that allow MSPs to mix and match products from other suppliers, are also rapidly assembling tightly interwoven and increasingly comprehensive portfolios that include not only solutions MSPs use themselves, like PSA applications, but solutions they sell to clients for functions like backup, storage, and networking as well.

At its DattoCon partner event today, for example, CEO Austin McChord emphasized that since merging with Autotask last year Datto has completely rebuilt the integration between its BDR products and the Autotask PSA system, and has more of the same yet to come.

Kaseya, meanwhile, has merged with Unitrends Inc., a maker of appliance-based business continuity products, and added documentation functionality based on technology from IT Glue to its RMM solution in recent months.

ConnectWise, by contrast, has stubbornly insisted on limiting its own product catalog to MSP line-of-business systems and relying on alliance partners for everything else.

Automation Nation originated as a source of technical content about the ConnectWise Automate RMM platform, formerly known as LabTech. Per an announcement made in January, however, it now provides technician training and advice for the entire ConnectWise product family. The vendor’s IT Nation event, which used to include both business and technical content, will now focus solely on business growth and best practices information.

Automation Nation 2018 wraps up tomorrow.


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