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10 Professional Services Automation (PSA) Trends & Predictions for 2016

Welcome to ChannelE2E’s latest technology predictions list. This time, we dive into 10 Professional Services Automation (PSA) Predictions for 2016.

11. Well, Hello There: We tried to limit the list to 10 entries. But we certainly couldn’t cut this one: SolarWinds N-able will double-down on its ticketing system, quietly acquired in 2015 and dubbed MSP Manager. The company claims MSP Manager allows service providers to “avoid the complexity of traditional PSA software.” We’ll be listening to see if MSPs agree.

10. Standalone PSA Is Dead: Forgive us for repeating this one. Yet again. But here’s the thesis. Within the IT channel, standalone PSA systems are no longer relevant. At the least, they need to integrate with a range of third-party offerings (RMM, BDR, security and so much more). At the most, the platforms will transform into total business management systems. And not just for MSPs. At this point, it’s a total IT service provider land grab.

James Foxall

James Foxall

9. Tigerpaw Will Go Cloud (And More): Tigerpaw Software is one of the better-known PSA providers. CEO James Foxall shifted the company to a subscription-based software model in 2015. But that was only a partial step toward the cloud. Tigerpaw’s software still runs on-premises. A hosted version is expected sometime in 2016. Oh, and just to make things interesting: Former Autotask CEO Bob Godgart and former CMO Bob Vogel have quietly advised Foxall on a range of topics, ChannelE2E has heard. ChannelE2E wonders: Once Tigerpaw releases its cloud platform, will suitors come along with potential buyout offers? Hmmm…

8. In for the Long Haul?: It’s gut check time for some PSA providers. There are two paths forward for those that are currently standalone PSA providers. Either (1) differentiate by pushing beyond the IT service provider market into new verticals. Or (2) maintain a pure IT service provider focus but grow through M&A or product launches outside of PSA.

Mark Cattini

Mark Cattini

7. Fourth Leg?: Under CEO Mark Cattini, Autotask has expanded beyond PSA to acquire RMM and file sync and sharing technologies. That three-legged stool is profitable. And there are Autotask Add-Ons. But I sense that a fourth potential leg could be added to the stool in 12 to 18 months…

6. PSA Collision in the Midmarket: SMB platforms from Autotask and ConnectWise will attempt to scale up into midmarket IT service desks. But at the same time, FinancialForce (on Salesforce.com), NetSuite OpenAir, WorkDay PSA and other key players will find a following among smaller IT service providers.

5. Where Did They Come From?: The traditional PSA market will face disruption from unexpected sources and a range of startups. A prime example: 17hats, which develops a total business management system for micropreneurs, solopreneurs and really small businesses.

ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini

Arnie Bellini

4. Arnie, David and Matt: Within the halls of ConnectWise, a business transformation — in terms of leadership styles — will continue. New ConnectWise President and COO Matt Nachtrab (formerly CEO of LabTech Software) will continue to put his stamp on the overall company, and its day to day operations. David Bellini, president and managing director of international, will need to balance his focus on the UK while also putting more feet on the street across Europe, Australia and elsewhere. And CEO Arnie Bellini will striving to prove he has the magic touch on software integration, working to coordinate the R&D teams across the ConnectWise, LabTech, ScreenConnectQuosal brands.

3. Cloud Distribution: Several classic PSA providers will evolve into cloud distributors. In some cases, it has been a multi-year journey. Check the ConnectWise Business Suite page, and you’ll see the company mention backup, security and plenty more. Third-party products to be sure. And how many more are on the way?

2. More Money?: I’m not saying Autotask needs to raise money. Nor am I suggesting that ConnectWise needs to raise money. Private equity owned Autotask is profitable. And closely held ConnectWise is profitable with no debt. But with all of the private equity money floating around the industry, I sort of wonder if Autotask will grab some more cash to fund more acquisitions. In ConnectWise’s case, I don’t see private equity as a potential path forward. But… there are other avenues that could emerge…

1. Total Business Management: I’ll end this blog entry by going back to where it started. Standalone PSA is dead. Much in the way that traditional MSPs are dead. End-to-end MSP management systems represent a lofty goal. With several years of M&A under their belts, both ConnectWise and Autotask are positioned to deliver a new generation of integration across their respective product lines. We’ll be watching to see if they deliver the goods…

Note: ChannelE2E is running 2016 technology predictions throughout the month of December 2016. Submit predictions for consideration to Joe@AfterNines.com. Read all daily predictions here.

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