As originally published here in ARN
Software innovation is top of agenda in Australia today, with a host of new businesses emerging to service a blossoming market.
When documenting the rapid rise of a technology start-up, the cutting-edge creativity of an entrepreneur is best captured through the flickering glow of new ideas.
Yet for Anthony Stevens, in building an Australian-made ISV, Devicedesk was not a light bulb idea.
Rather a process of working through parts of a jigsaw puzzle, wondering what can and should be different in IT.
“There are always challenges when starting a business,” Stevens acknowledged.
Founded in late 2014, the Melbourne-based company creates process and productivity analytics software for businesses of all sizes across Australia, striking key vendor partnerships with Microsoft, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Workday and Zendesk along the way.
Despite being young at heart, the Devicedesk team has collectively spent decades assessing how to instigate fundamental enterprise change, utilising emerging technologies such as hyper-scale computing, big-data and machine learning.
Essentially, Stevens is tapping into the industry’s insatiable appetite for cloud application services, with software-as-a-service (SaaS) forecast to grow 20.3 percent in 2016, reaching $US37.7 billion globally.
“We have seen big changes in how organisations use SaaS vendors such as Salesforce, Workday and Microsoft,” Stevens said.
“Through the advancements in new technologies, we believe there’s an ongoing opportunity to allow organisations to better understand its use of software across the entire business.”
Targeting the “more progressive CIO”, Devicedesk represents a new breed of Australian start-ups, start-ups built from the ground up with software innovating from the epicentre.
Operating as an enterprise catalogue platform for IT services, software and devices, Stevens said Devicedesk draws inspiration from leading consumer online experiences, before bringing them into the Australian enterprise.
“Organisations sign up for licenses with different providers, deploy these licenses internally but then struggle to assess usage rates which subsequently makes it difficult to attach value to the investment,” he explained.
Underpinning Devicedesk’s offering is Insightcentr, which marks the company’s entry into the IoT and analytics market.
As a recently released SaaS solution, Insightcentr is designed to allow businesses to better understand software utilisation and workforce productivity by providing time-oriented reporting into web or desktop software usage.
The software has been developed in partnership with Microsoft and leverages Microsoft Power BI for analytics and reporting.
“Insightcentr is a proprietary software designed to run on PCs to understand the level of usage of any software that is running on the computer,” he explained.
“The software understands what the user is actually using versus what is running.”
Leveraging the Microsoft Azure platform, Insightcentr works through the use of a lightweight agent that runs on Microsoft Windows, creating the modern day equivalent of a digital time-and-motion study.
Consequently, Stevens said data can be accessed and aggregated on an anonymous basis to ensure privacy is maintained.
“Insightcentr negates the typical situation of half a dozen tabs open in a browser - such as Microsoft Word or Excel - that are running, but largely just sitting dormant in the background,” he added.
“Insightcentr provides an understanding of what the user is actually looking at or what is in focus.
“We use that information, we capture it on an aggregate basis and we can then get a picture into the profile of use of particular software across the organisation.”
Stevens said businesses are deploying Insightcentr internally to build a clearer profile of workforce usage, uncovering what and how staff utilise software.
“Businesses can then launch a change initiative as a result,” he said. “It also helps organisations think about the adoption of software.
“For example, a business may have recently deployed a large CRM project and are considering how to best drive adoption.”
Developed via a Microsoft BizSpark partnership - designed to facilitate start-up growth - Insightcentr provides usage analytics for multiple software platforms including DocuSign, Microsoft Dynamics, Office 365, Salesforce and SAP.
Data is then available for structured or ad-hoc reporting through Microsoft Power BI alongside any other corporate data.
“We worked closely with Microsoft’s PowerBI product teams to build out Insightcentr,” Stevens added.
“Insightcentr is very unique and we don’t think there is anything in the market that currently competes directly with the product.
“While the industry already has providers who can document what’s been installed on PCs or desktops across an organisation, Insightcentr provides businesses a clearer picture of what has actually been used and adopted.’
Labelled as “the second cab off the rank” by Stevens, the introduction of Insightcentr follows Devicedesk’s first foray into the Australian software market, through CatalogIQ.
Enabling organisations to order devices, software and services, the offering integrates with Autotask, ConnectWise, ServiceNow and Zendesk.
“We designed CatalogIQ for most of last year and upon going to market, the product took off immediately,” he said.
Built as a result of years of senior IT leadership experience for both Stevens and CTO, Greg Rudakov, the overriding concept of Devicedesk is capturing the imagination of businesses at a national and international level.
In New Zealand, managed services provider, Base 2, selected Devicedesk to help drive the company’s B2B eCommerce strategy, bringing the Australian start-up across the Tasman in the process.
“We are proud of the innovation that continues to come out of Australia, but we also have our sights set on expanding our capabilities overseas,” Stevens added.
“The business environment is right for us as organisations have an increasing appetite to try out new ways of working.”
Leveraging the channel
As the company continues to build out new solutions locally, Stevens outlined its dependence on the channel to help drive greater levels of productivity across organisations.
Specifically, Devicedesk is aligning closely with system integrators, managed service providers and technology consultants to realise the emerging opportunities of an expanding market.
“We have a specific strategy around the channel,” he explained. “Firstly, we are looking for partners offering software asset management type services, alongside end-user assistance around getting the most out of licensing spend.
“Secondly, we’re looking to work with consulting providers that offer process and reengineering services to companies, using Insightcentr to help customers understand how they work.”
Going to market through the Devicedesk Reseller Program, Stevens said the company is actively engaging with large-scale system integrators and management consulting providers in Australia, as the company seeks further expansion through its channel.
“We’re very focused on listening to the channel and our customers in relation to what we are doing,” he added. “It helps us grow as a company and also ensures our products fit the market.
Spanning both product offerings, Stevens is launching a two-pronged approach to the channel, built around selling and using Devicedesk solutions to improve business productivity.
“With CatalogIQ, we see opportunities for both the channel in terms of taking our solution to market, but also in adopting the solution internally to help sell more effectively to customers” he added.
“Insightcentr also represents a unique opportunity for resellers to differentiate in terms of what they currently offer organisations, through simplifying end-user computing.”
Through an emerging business, and an emerging channel, Devicedesk is operating at the cutting-edge of the Australian software market, representing a new breed of technology company, a company that identifies a business problem and builds a ready-made solution in response.
“We’re not a consumer technology company, we’re not a Fintech company and we’re not only focused on productivity enabling software,” Stevens added.
“We have lots of ideas across all ends of the spectrum and are executing on those plans today.”
Driven by an unrelenting entrepreneurial spirit, Stevens’ ambition is simple - to ensure Devicedesk is the enterprise shopfront for IT.
“But you still need the confidence and appetite for risk to put your brand and proposition out into the market in the first place,” he cautioned.