FANS OF CHANNELPRO’S annual grab bag of interesting, emerging, and underappreciated vendors may recall that last year’s list contained a surprisingly large number of cloud-related entries and a surprisingly small number of security-related ones. The exact opposite is true of this year’s collection, but the results are equally worth investigating. Read on to see if any of our latest names worth knowing provide just the answer to a thorny IT problem plaguing you or your clients.
MANAGED AND CLOUD SERVICES
While others took up bread baking or jigsaw puzzles, long-time channel pro Ed Mana spent the lockdown months of 2020 launching a new venture aimed at conquering a familiar problem for him and others like him: the difficulties of integrating and operating a complete, effective sales and marketing tool stack. The solution he ultimately produced includes marketing, CRM, proposal drafting, KPI tracking, and workflow automation components designed to help users generate leads and convert them into closed deals more often and with less effort. It’s the product Mana wishes he had when he was hunting IT business himself. bizzity.com
Wondering how diligent your techs are about tracking their time in comparison with peers at other MSPs? Cognition360 knows. Drawing on machine learning, predictive AI, and anonymous data from some 100 million ConnectWise PSA (formerly ConnectWise Manage) tickets, the system helps MSPs compare themselves to best practice benchmarks in areas ranging from agreement and customer profitability to technician efficiency and service delivery. A recently introduced live dashboarding tool turns what was previously only available as an add-on to the main solution into an entry-level standalone source of real-time metrics on invoicing, opportunities, time entry, and more. Over 100 customizable reports come right in the box. Integration with Microsoft Power BI lets you create more. cognition360.com
[Editor's note: Since the completion of this story, Cognition360 was acquired by ScalePad.]
Telco partners are increasingly offering managed services as well. Datagate gives them a taste of their own medicine by helping MSPs enter the telco market. The cloud-based service turns data from multiple VoIP, PBX, and other providers into complete, accurate bills, and then feeds them to PSA solutions from ConnectWise, Datto, and Kaseya; accounting solutions from QuickBooks and Xero; and payment solutions from ConnectBooster and Stripe. Invoices cover minutes used, overages, toll-free, long-distance, international calling, and more, and include all local surcharges and taxes. There’s a white-label portal too for letting customers view and pay bills online. datagate-i.com
Channel pros like to talk tech. Business owners don’t. Humanize IT’s sales software is designed to help MSPs close business faster and more reliably by converting the technology presentations they normally make into the business conversations they should be having instead. The system uses anonymous, aggregated data from across an MSP’s customer base to score clients in relation to other businesses on architecture, service, risk, and strategy. MSPs can then present that data, along with specific suggestions for raising scores, on a readable, user-friendly dashboard. The result, according to Humanize IT at least, can be dramatic gains in monthly recurring revenue. humanizeit.biz
Co-founded by an MSP tired of devoting hours to prepping for quarterly business reviews, Lifecycle Insights makes QBR automation software designed to prepare client-ready reports in minutes. The system integrates with PSA solutions from ConnectWise, Datto, HaloPSA, and Syncro, plus products from Cisco Meraki, IT Glue, Liongard, cloud management vendor Augmentt, and more. Included as well are scheduling functionality for tracking not only upcoming business reviews but warranty expirations and asset refresh cycles, a baseline risk exposure tool for producing new client assessments, a project management module for following up on identified needs, and a comparative reporting component for tracking progress over time—everything, according to Lifecycle Insights, that an MSP needs to become a virtual CIO. lifecycleinsights.io