At Autotask Community Live, the company described a Business Intelligence integration with Microsoft (MSFT) along with deeper Office 365 cloud integrations. Plus, Autotask CEO Mark Cattini described how his company's SaaS platform is now a Big Data system (a Smart IT solution) that gives MSPs  efficiency, accountability and intelligence. Keep checking this blog entry, which will be updated multiple times today.

First, a little background on Autotask. The company develops a SaaS-based business management platform for MSPs. Cattini, now on the job for about 2.5 years, has focused on global expansion and localization initiatives, plus mobile and open API efforts. 

Autotask, ConnectWise and Tigerpaw Software continue to compete in the traditional PSA (profressional services automation) software market. But in-fighting between the trio has calmed down a bit in recent years as each company focused more on organic growth and bigger business management strategies rather than pure head-on competition.

Keynote and Interview Recaps

Here's the update so far...

  • Big Sponsors: In addition to traditional MSP-oriented companies like Continuum, the conference has attracted bigger-name channel sponsors like AT&T, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Synnex. We'll poke around to find out what each vendor is talking up here. 

Recap: Autotask CEO Mark Cattini Keynote

  • Back in 2011, the company had 2736 Autotask Pro partners; supporting one language; covered 49 countries; 2 offices -- New York and Beijing.
  • Today, Autotask has 4588 Autotask Pro partners; covering seven languages; 70 countries; and five offices -- adding London, Sydney and Munich.
  • The company is spending 50 percent of its revenue reinvesting back in the business -- development, support, expansion and more.
  • In 2011, the company processed 12 million or so customer tickets. For 2013, it will be about 29.2 million support tickets. There is a new customer ticket every 0.84 seconds.
  • In 2011, the company had 26 integration partners. Today, the company has 91 integrations.
  • Autotask's MSPs increased their billings through the system by 18 percent in 2012.
  • The Autotask economy services 1.8 million businesses worldwide. "We're not niche," he said. "This is mainstream. This is absolutely for real."
  • Autotask's community is working on first-year opportunities of $9.7 billion.
  • Mobile, cloud, big data and social are driving "tactonic" shifts in business and IT, he said, predicting that it will represent 90 percent of IT growth over the long haul. It's high stakes in terms of how businesses will move forward, he added.
  • He mentioned that there will likely be $25 billion worth of SaaS company acquisitions going forward.
  • 70% of small businesses will use cloud services this year.
  • Smart IT: This is Cattini's big theme for the Autotask platform. He described how the platform will offer efficiency, accountability and intelligence for MSPs. In some ways, Cattini described Autotask as a Big Data system for MSPs...
  • Side note: In my opinion, Cattini is offering all the right keywords to increase Autotask's valuation...

Recap: Kevin Donovan, senior VP, global sales; Patric Burns, VP product management

  • Burns is on stage now.
  • In March 2013, the company delivered Internet Explorer 10, Office 2013 and Exchange 2013 compatibility. Also, a May/June release is in beta niw, assisting MSPs with ITIL problem managment, project management, time entry and stopwatch capabilities. There are roughly 300 partners testing the release.
  • Projects is the biggest upgrade in the release. Other key enhancements include improved ways to track technician time and time off.
  • Burns is offering addition product update previews. The list is too long to share here. But I suspect MSPs in the know have the list already.
  • Near-term the company is looking at a full tablet experience with adaptive design. The company may also explore targeted mobile apps in areas Autotask doesn't currently serve.
  • In 2014, something big is coming but Burns won't say what. I wonder: Does it have something to do with extending Autotask from a single SaaS platform toward an ISV platform -- similar to Salesforce.com offering Force.com?
  • Director of Product Management Joe Rourke announced a deeper Micosoft Business Intelligence relationship and integration, which may help MSPs to more efficiently track and monitor business trends.
  • Note: MSPmentor will have a separate Q&A sit-down with Burns and Donovan later today. We'll update this blog area accordingly.
  • In 2010 the company had 16 or 17 sales reps. Now the figure is about 90 sales reps. The biggest challenge, says Donovan, is onboarding quickly.
  • Back in 2010 roughly 14 percent of new business was in the UK. Today, it's about 60 percent of new business in and around the UK.
  • "We've shifted from a field sales office to a true European head quarters," said Donovan. 
  • Now that Autotask has gone upstream, the company is seeing competition with ServiceNow, Remedy and IT service desks of those types. A traditional service desk isn't keeping up with IT now.
  • In terms of distribution, the company continues to work closely with Ingram and Synnex in the U.S. But internationally, Donovan said the company is taking a close look at smaller distributors that want to be educators in the market. 
  • Sometimes MSPs focus solely on profitability rather than other metrics like growth and overall business performance. Burns described how new Autotask dashboards -- including a financial dashboard. 
  • On development: "Customers will tell you what they want -- but you really want to understand what they need, ask them questions and interpret their answers," said Burns. 
  • Going forward Burns sees opportunities to simplify, simplify and simplify.
  • Autotask is receiving more than 3 million calls to its API per month. It's not just software partners. It's customers, too, said Burns.
  • "As a pure cloud platform we can be the authority in the industry based on the data in our system," said Burns.
  • US and UK remain big growth markets, but Germany is the next big opportunity. It's a good economy with lots of small businesses and an engineering culture, said Donovan.
  • South Africa: It's potentially like Australia in terms of the fact that it hits harder than its weight. Plus, latency issues involving the cloud have been disappearing, said Donovan.

Recap: Cattini Q&A interview

  • "We care about two markets now: IT solutions providers becoming MSPs. And an international focus." And along the way, Autotask is adding larger MSPs to its base, Cattini said.
  • Smaller MSPs are still important, but the migration upstream is accelerating.
  • For annual contracts over $25,000 per year: From 2010 to 2013, the figure will be up about 2000 percent, Cattini said.
  • In terms of new MRR, it's 57 percent international and 43 percent US for new deals. 
  • Germany has outgrown a tele-sales operation and roughly 10 people in two offices in that country now. Roughly 35 people in Beijing, but a piece of it is off-shore.
  • Back in the states, the company will soon build a sales office in Chicago to help drive more face-to-face, large engagement sales with MSPs.
  • Cattini would give the management team an A- grade during his tenure. He would have exited Autotask Go and VARStreet sooner if possible. "But overall, the really big things -- moving up market, international expansion, account management, selling back to our customers -- have gone well."
  • Internationally the MSP and IT service provider market remains wide-open. German is likely 60 percent of the size of US opportunity. "There is tons of runway in the international market, and runway in terms of moving up-market."
  • That up-market will potentially include mid-market end-customers (corporate IT departments as service providers to internal users). Mid-market needs a system to understand how much is being spent on IT, Cattini noted. This could trigger a new round of co-managed IT -- between MSP and corporate IT. "The good news is there really isn't anything major missing from the product."
  • "If we wanted to grow faster we'd probably need more money." The options would be raising more money or going IPO, he said. "We could go public now if we wanted to." Yes, Autotask has met with bankers for an exploratory process for valuation discussions. "We'd be at the smaller end. There are companies that have gone public in recent years and are smaller than us."
  • Autask is "several times more valuable" than the day Cattini and management team joined the company. That's because of faster growth and a larger addressible market, he added. But Cattini said it's not time for Autotask to cash its chips in yet with an IPO or exit.
  • Cattini's advice for MSPs: Follow the money -- cloud, big data, mobile and social. "Focus on solving customer problems with measurable business outcomes," said Cattini.

Recap: Tom Osborn, VP, client services

  • The client-services organization has doubled over the past year, with coverage over seven languages has been critical.
  • Also, launching new support and processes up-market. Among the key focus areas are ITIL -- the industry best practice.
  • From a support perspective Autotask has moved to a tiered model -- including training credits.
  • On the implementation side, moving more and more custom-scoped engagements for larger customers.
  • Some MSPs are getting certified as consulting partners to help deploy Autotask within corporate IT departments. 
  • During previous career stops he worked on CRM implentations. And also worked at MapInfo and Pitney Bowes -- two of CEO Cattini's previous career stops.
  • Among his big areas of focus is ITIL. Anyone who provides and delivers IT services day to day, the ITIL principles are very natural and focused on business outcomes.
  • Over the next few months, he wants to focus on (1) up-market needs of MSPs (2) re-engaging with MSPs (on a best-practices basis) after they've been using Autotask for a few years to have pro-active check-ins. 

Recap: Len DiCostanzo, senior VP of community and business development

  • Even though Autotask's typical MSP is growing in size, he doesn't see a dramatic difference in how Autotask is training partners. Still, there are some subtle differences. Large MSPs will train multiple people on different pieces of Autotask, while the smaller MSPs will have a single employee who trains across the entire platform, he notes.
  • In the US, Autotask is going to launch face to face training at its US headquarters. The UK, Germany and Australia offices will also host training sessions. 
  • Microsoft has also been working more closely with Autotask -- delivering boot camps in Microsoft's facilities in Tampa, New York and other locations. 
  • In 2006-2007, he was a consultant to Kaseya and spoke at an SMB Nation. Autotask spotted DiCostanzo at the event and recruited him into the company.
  • During his time at Autotask, he has started company's professional services business, large account group, Autotask Academy. More recently, he's been driving Autotask's integration partner business with third-party ISVs and other technology partners. 
  • In terms of integrations: Any tool a solution provider is using that requires double or triple entry deserves an integration to Autotask. 
  • Plus: Additional observations throughout the day.