Smarter Tools Company LogoI didn't know much about SmarterTools, the mail server software, help desk software and web analytics provider before Smarter Tools VPs Jeff Hardy and Derek Curtis reached out to me. The first thing that caught my attention: Curtis and Hardy didn't want to schedule a 10 minute phone briefing. They wanted to meet face-to-face to discuss how SmarterTools has been competing with the likes of Zendesk and Salesforce.com since its founding in 2003. Here are the details.

There are three keys to the SmarterTools suite, according to Hardy: It's built for multi-tenant environments, it's control system and virtualization agnostic and it's automated. That suite includes:
  • SmarterMail 8.x -- an email server software that both Hardy and Curtis claim is the best alternative to Microsoft Exchange for businesses and hosting companies.
  • SmarterTrack 7.x -- a help desk app that features tracking, managing and reporting capabilities than can be accessed from a desktop, tablet or mobile device.
  • SmarterStats 6.x -- an SEO and web analytics solution designed to help users maximize their return on investment (ROI).
Hardy's Message is simple: "SmarterTools is the only help desk you need," he asserted. And he's taken that message to SMBs, enterprises and managed service providers in 24 countries, including the U.S., South Africa, Brazil and Malaysia -- where Hardy and Curtis said SmartTools products are doing particularly well. Overall, the company has roughly 14,000 customers serving more than 14 million end-users.

Next up, SmarterTools would like to establish itself in Australia, Japan and China. But SmarterTools doesn't only write software for customers. "We also write software based on what we want," Hardy said.

So how has SmarterTools remained competitive? They've found a niche. "The market is not crowded from a service-based perspective," Curtis said. SmarterTools is delivering a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, priced at $15 per agent for its enterprise-level suite. Then they had to figure out how to sell that SaaS model.

To that end, the company is also n the process of redesigning its website to make it "less techy and easier to understand," according to Hardy. "Our SaaS message was getting lost," he said. So the new website's front page will give visitors two tracks to follow: You can decide to learn about the SaaS service model, or focus on learning about individual SmarterTools products.

Coming up for SmarterTools: A new version of SmarterMail featuring an instant messenger client in December 2011, and a new stats product release, which is expected to arrive in Q1 of 2012.

Another area where SmarterTools is competing: mobile device access. Hardy and Curtis said their services are compatible with all tables and mobile devices, perhaps similar to Zendesk's management capabilities -- though I haven't tried the various services.