Q&A: Mark Banfield, SVP and GM of Autotask International

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Autotask has been speaking publicly about its strong growth as a company. What are your plans for Europe and the UK in particular?

We are seeing serious growth in international; we opened an office in Amsterdam earlier this year and up to about 25 people are there already. The UK has also seen strong growth and we will launch an office in Manchester imminently. We'll have around 15 people [there] in the next month or two -- that will be full sales, service, support, etc. And we're also looking for an office in the Nordics, probably in Copenhagen.

Proximity to the customer is key; it really pays dividends. If you get closer to the customer you can provide them better support, better training.

Also, we always used to focus on selling our [PSA] platform to the MSP, but the MSP is really a channel for us now with these new products. So being close to customers is critical.

To that point, earlier this year you launched a channel partner programme specifically around your file, sync and share offering, Autotask Workplace. How is take-up of that among your channel partners?

There has been quite a number of partners we've taken on to sell the Autotask Workplace solution, and we seeing revenue increase on that. It's been quite successful.*

Where is Autotask seeing the most growth across the organisation?

We're still acquiring new customers, new MSPs, quite aggressively but I would say we're getting a lot of revenue out of what we call white space within our customer base. We have more than 9000 customers globally now, we're very focused on having them all adopt these other products.

Our average revenue per MSP, per customer, has gone up significantly. When you bring in Autotask Endpoint Management, Autotask Workplace (AWP), Autotask Backup (AEB), where a customer might have been generating $10,00 a month, it might now be $7,000 or $8,000 a month. That's a really attractive business model as we can go back to the base and really milk the cow, so to speak. And we're providing some value back to our customers; there's a lot of value, a lot of efficiency gains in having all these products integrated [into the platform].

The PSA is still the bread and butter, it's the basis on which they run their business on. The other products are revenue-generating products.

But you'll see us make other acquisitions or bring in other products and services to the platform.

Is there anything your customers have been asking for?

Antivirus, email security -- like backup, all those things around managing the endpoint and providing more value to their customers.

Speaking to your UK customers, they appreciate your local presence and having feet on the ground in the UK. Some of your competitors have also recently been ramping up their UK presence -- what are your thoughts on that?

If anything, it's only positive that you have more competitors looking to move into the market. It shows it's a strong market. I'm not disparaging the competition at all, but I like to think we have a fairly unique approach in the way we manage customers, the way we build relationships with customers.

Also when you think about when we started four or five years ago, we were just a sales organisation. Now we have a much broader suite of capabilities.

What are some of the challenges facing MSPs today?

Cloud is still a challenge, although MSPs are starting to figure out how to make money from it. I think the opportunity for them is around being a consultative -- almost like a CIO to their customers -- advising them on their cloud solutions, and implementing their cloud solutions. They have to shift their mindset from reselling to being more of a consultant. The opportunity isn't to just resell a Microsoft cloud product; the opportunity is to configure it, integrate it and manage it. The ones who will do well with that are the ones that creating specialisation.

They are finding or creating niche markets, and they're specialising in those markets. There's also so much consolidation so there will probably more acquisitions. The winners will be the ones who create specialisation around particular vertical or technology stack.

*Autotask confirmed it has signed more than 400 news partners since the launch of the AWP partner programme, in addition to approximately 150 legacy partners

Christine Horton

Christine has been a tech journalist for over 20 years, 10 of which she spent exclusively covering the IT Channel. From 2006-2009 she worked as the editor of Channel Business, before moving on to ChannelPro where she was editor and, latterly, senior editor.

Since 2016, she has been a freelance writer, editor, and copywriter and continues to cover the channel in addition to broader IT themes. Additionally, she provides media training explaining what the channel is and why it’s important to businesses.