Last week we sponsored the Autotask Live conference and hung out with a few hundred Autotask users, integrators and sponsors in Miami. As usual, Autotask staff pulled off an awesome event and I’m amazed at the extent that they are willing to work with the partners to make stuff happen. Steve Noel (one of their head dev / integration guys) was by our booth probably half a dozen times with ideas and suggestions on how to extend our feature set (ExchangeDefender integrates into Autotask for billing, support, statistics and LiveLinks).
What I was really curious about was the keynote. Bob Godgard is not on Facebook or Twitter, he doesn’t blog and I think I see him once a year in a booth where he looks more like an inconspicuous swag hunter than the CEO of the whole thing. It’s hard to figure out what’s on his mind and outside of meticulous press releases and scripted speeches, sometimes it’s hard to feel the emotion and the drive behind where the company is heading.
This is extremely important. I remember a few years ago blogging from the Microsoft conference when the mood on the podium turned very anti-Partner. It was clear then and there that Microsoft was about to annihilate it’s partner channel and everyone who stood in it’s way.
So what did Bob talk about?
That’s it. There were no elaborate service pitches, even though they got VARStreet there was no long talk about how this service is going to change the way everyone worked: just about how it’s going to strengthen the platform. The entire presentation was about broadening the reach of the platform, making it OS/Browser independent, moving onto touch screen devices, adding more back office stuff.
For integrators and developers like OWN, this was very welcome news. It was similar to Ballmer’s “Developers, Developers, Developers” pitch at PDC a few years ago. It established a clear focus that Autotask is spending it’s money on improving it’s platform and by proxy our ability to continue to help our partners realize additional value by using it.
To me, this is key. Things like Windows, Autotask, etc are platforms. The second they lose the focus on their core (see Microsoft Windows Vista) product and get distracted the entire ecosystem around them suffers. Autotask, in my opinion, is going in the right direction for it’s users and it’s partners.
At the event, we released two products based on the Autotask/ExchangeDefender platform. One is a ticket-to-email gateway, which is free and open to everyone using ExchangeDefender. The other one is Orangutime, a desktop gadget that helps you track time and update tickets (offline) without launching a browser.
I have to say, I am very impressed with what Autotask is doing and I look forward to bringing more and more solutions into that ecosystem. A huge part of our partner base relies on Autotask, and one way we contribute back to our community (aside from t-shirts) is by helping make you more efficient between the two platforms with the software we’ve already developed in-house.