Vancouver-headquartered IT Glue, the market leader in IT documentation for MSPs, has designed their first partner event around the principle of providing MSPs with valuable takeaways, rather than just talking about themselves.
Today, ITGlue, the Vancouver-based company which makes documentation software for MSPs, is kicking off their first MSP partner conference – GlueCon 2018 in Phoenix. The company is promising an unusual event by the standards of the industry, with a focus on thought leadership and practical ideas for MSPs from industry heavyweights. There will be some specific IT Glue news pieces – two product announcements are coming tomorrow. The main messaging, however, is providing attendees with tangible takeaways they can use to improve their business.
“We do about 100 events a year, from small road shows to larger ones like IT Nation and DattoCon,” Chris Day, IT Glue’s CEO, told ChannelBuzz. “We feel we are uniquely positioned as a Switzerland where we aren’t aligned with any particular provider, so we have a better opportunity to focus on thought leadership content. We are focusing the show around that. Most events are on what a company has done recently, their strategy, and their new products. This one is all about tangible takeaways for MSPs. That’s why the show sold out two weeks ago. People can come here and learn, and not feel they are being thrown into the pressure cooker.”
The highlight here is the Panel of Titans, a moderated panel featuring ConnectWise’s Arnie Bellini, Kaseya’s Fred Voccola, Datto’s Austin McChord, Continuum’s Michael George, TruMethods’ Gary Pica – and Day himself. There is also an ‘Amazons’ panel of female leaders from the MSP sector – Christine Gassman from Datto, Jacqui Murphy from Auvik Networks, Dana Liedholm from ID Agent, and Jennifer Bodell from Pax8.
“Vern Harnisch, one of my early mentors, is also giving a keynote here,” Day said. “The show is all designed to help MSPs figure out what they should be doing.”
It’s been a rapid rise for IT Glue, which, like many of the platform and tool providers for MSPs, started out as an MSP themselves, and commercialized a tool that they had developed for their own internal use.
“I owned an MSP, Fully Managed, from the early 2000s, and as the company grew, we had five or six developers working on this one tool that only our company used,” Day said. “It was really the red-headed step child that became IT Glue, inside the MSP. People told me, ‘Dude, you should sell this stuff.’ So in 2012, I created a new company to build this product. I’m not involved in the MSP today except at a board level, but my background there meant that I knew what was needed from a product and market fit perspective.”
Day said that IT Glue’s offering didn’t exactly bowl the market over at the start.
“It was an uphill battle at the beginning,” he said. “We very much had to make an evangelical sale, because IT documentation for MSPs was new. In these early days, there was no MSP documentation tool at all. You could use some aspects of ConnectWise and AutoTask, but most people just used Dropbox and SharePoint and a password tool of some kind, or Microsoft OneNote, or the various Wiki tools that were out there. Our sales pitch was ‘how is that working for you,’ and we got a good response to that. It was a very educational process, teaching people how much time their techs were spending on doing documentation, and lightbulbs started going off.”
Day stressed that the IT Glue offering was designed from the perspective that MSPs don’t like doing documentation, so you had to make it as painless as possible for them.
“The way we built it, fully integrated to MSP-centric tools, it made things fun for people who don’t like to document,” he said. “We had worked on this ourselves, and knew people hated documentation as a general rule.”
Given the general MSP antipathy to documentation, Day said this was essential to IT Glue’s success.
“ConnectWise purchased a product called BizDox in 2013,” he noted. “The concept was similar, but they bought the product before it had customers, and MSPs didn’t like using it. They subsequently removed the product from their stack.”
Today, IT Glue is the market leader in the space.
“We’ve got the full spectrum of customers, which follow the Bell Curve in terms of the number of accounts,” he said. “We have thousands of accounts of MSPs with 15 employees down, but we also have some of the big players in the space, with thousands of employees, where the MSP is a division of their business. In the early days, we couldn’t capture that high end. We weren’t set up for large contracts, and we didn’t have compliance designations like SOC 2 which we have now. The big guys also want full APIs. We didn’t have that then and now we do.”
Day said that they get some criticism for having a five seat minimum for their service.
“Many companies would love to buy one seat, and that’s something that we are addressing,” he said.
Another strategic decision to be made is whether IT Glue should go over vertical-specific documentation use cases, like medicine and legal.
“W haven’t decided on that one yet,” Day noted.
Today, Day said that the principal competition they face is still the do-it-yourselfers.
“There are many organizations who think that doing that they have been doing using ConnectWise and AutoTask is good enough,” he indicated. “Some smaller companies have also popped up to enter the space.”
Day indicated that demand will inevitably increase however, because of the trends towards automation and commoditization in the industry.
“The biggest changes are related to automation and commoditization, where new companies can enter the MSP space and be competitive, at least on paper,” he said. “Documentation is a critical thing that everyone needs. What we can do is help to automate documentation to take more work away from the human. We can do things at scale, even if its fairly low value-add, because you no longer need to pay techs to document Office 365. That’s where the business is going. Automation is the key for MSPs to compete. It creates further commoditization, but it is still the inevitable next step.”