Syncro CEO On Product Roadmap, Leadership And Excelling In A Remote Environment
‘We want to make sure that we’re bringing the same simplicity and accessibility to security solutions to the MSP space as we did for our PSA and RMM. That will be a big difference if you fast forward 18 to 24 months,’ says Emily Glass, CEO of Syncro.
Between having a heightened focus on cybersecurity, building out a product roadmap for MSPs and leading the charge as an inclusive leader, Syncro CEO Emily Glass has been busy in 2023.
“The thing that might change is you’ll start to see us putting more of a foot forward on the security front,” Glass told CRN. “We’ve done a lot of that this year, we got our SOC 2 compliance, we’re adding SSO (single sign-on) support and we’ve always had MFA, so we’ve always been at the forefront there and made security a first principle of Syncro.”
The Seattle-based vendor, which offers a combined PSA and RMM tool, recently partnered with Channel Program to release a 2023 Channel Technology Map that categorizes vendors by product specialty to give MSPS a fuller view of the IT channel landscape through established and emerging vendors.
“When you’re searching for a solution as a potential customer, it gives you a sense of what kind of solution do I need,” she said. “It’s like a path to just map out visually what all the options are out there. There are so many solutions and so many emerging solutions that are changing all the time, how do people keep up? There’s so much complexity there, especially in cybersecurity. It’s cool to document it [and] have a snapshot to see how rapidly it changes if we keep updating it.”
CRN spoke to Glass further about the technology map, product innovation and the benefits and pitfalls of leadership. Check it out below.
Why release a channel technology map?
That project started earlier this year and they’ve been doing a great job of compiling all of the vendors in the space and being more transparent with MSPs providing reviews and MSP peer reviews. When you’re searching for a solution as a potential customer, it gives you a sense of what kind of solution do I need. It’s like a path to just map out visually what all the options are out there. There are so many solutions and so many emerging solutions that are changing all the time, how do people keep up? There’s so much complexity there, especially in cybersecurity. It’s cool to document it [and] have a snapshot to see how rapidly it changes if we keep updating it. It also gives us peace and a sense of, ‘Here are the companies that are catering to you that are available.’ [It shows] where you may have a gap in a very visual way.
You pride yourself often about being a very inclusive leader and how you lead a remote company. What’s your favorite part about being a leader?
I really love working with my team. Having worked somewhat long career, I’ve seen good examples of leadership, bad examples of leadership and I’ve been able to try different ways of solving things...and I love sharing that with others. I just had an offsite with my exec team and it’s just so refreshing to get together and have everyone feel like they can share their ideas and we’ll find the best solution through that. That’s what I really enjoy about being a leader, is having an open and transparent culture, being able to pass that on and build the next generation of leaders.
What’s the most challenging part of being a leader?
The accountability and the responsibility. With great responsibility comes great responsibility. You’re accountable for the decisions and making decisions is a huge part of the job. So knowing you’re not going to make everybody happy all the time is a huge weight to bear. Knowing that that’s going to be a repercussion that you’re going to have to deal with is one of the toughest parts, but pushing forward anyways because that’s where growth comes from.
How do you keep the sense of collaboration and community in an all-remote company?
Most of our employees are in the US but they span the different coasts so we do have a wide range of hours. One thing is you have to have really clear operating principles. We define core working hours, we have an understanding of what being responsive means, what’s a typical response time when you get a meeting request and outlining to people the urgency levels of things that they can work together across different time zones. We also have one meeting on Zoom every week that everyone knows they have to show up for. It is recorded if you can’t make it but it is a chance to unite everyone in the same place and communicate on important issues, share knowledge, talk about product releases and bring everybody together. Periodically we have more in-depth virtual gatherings or even in-person gatherings to strengthen that sense of community.
Syncro has been remote since 2017 so we’re fortunate that we’ve had a lot of experience doing the wrong things or learning on how to grow and be remote. A part of that means we’ve built up a lot of documentation and asynchronous collaboration methods as a result. I think that’s really important, to develop that sense of patience when you’re in a remote culture. Taking that time to document enables the collaboration remotely and it also means that as you’re growing, you have resources to bring people into that culture that they can refer to and get up to speed. There’s a sense of patience I think that’s required in a remote environment, but it pays off.
I’ve been seeing a lot of leaders, specifically in the channel, saying that companies should return to the office or do a hybrid approach, because that’s what works best. What is your response to that?
I think Syncro is in a unique position because we don’t have any office space. Having people in person does enable a deeper sense of connection and having that touch point at some interval does make a difference. It does make a difference seeing people in person and knowing they have legs that work. There are connections that are formed in person that are different and you can’t replace them online. I acknowledge that. At the same time, I feel like when you’re forcing people to do something they don’t want to do I can see how that does have a negative backlash as a result. There’s a balance there that you have to achieve. There’s a level of discomfort in getting the execs together when we don’t usually travel, it requires logistics, expenses, family pressures and support. It changes your day to day in a similar way hybrid or forcing people back to the office does. Finding the right balance that works for the employee and the company is the important part.
I want to go to the product side. What are your thoughts on AI and how will it play a role in Syncro products?
AI is everywhere, not just in the MSP industry. It’s all over. Internally, we are using ChatGPT already to help support our tech support team. We’ve started to play around with it as a training tool, always with verification. With a remote culture, it’s how do you compile a bunch of knowledge-based articles, how do you make sure that the expertise is getting aggregated and then used in the same way across the team. We’re using it in that way to help support their knowledge and help them answer questions and training it along the way. From a product perspective, Syncro is definitely taking a conservative approach there. Our CTO and I have had many conversations on this and we believe we’re truly at the stage where, as a technology company, there are data privacy concerns and oversight needed in these systems that still don’t come out of the box. We want to make sure that the MSPs are going to be protected and not have information shared where they don’t want to, and the systems are still evolving. We definitely will want to adopt as we see that the tech matures and that there are sufficient controls around sharing of the data and the use of the technology.
What does the Syncro product lineup look like 18 to 24 months from now?
Syncro is a combined platform for PSA and RMM so you will certainly continue to see us invest in that platform. Our partner base is growing so you we will have more focus on the PSA side than last year and we will continue to do so in the next 18 to 24 months, because that’s where some of the automation, the efficiencies and the growth is coming. The thing that might change is you’ll start to see us putting more of a foot forward on the security front. We’ve done a lot of that this year, we got our SOC 2 compliance, we’re adding SSO (single sign-on) support and we’ve always had MFA, so we’ve always been at the forefront there and made security a first principle of Syncro. We want to make sure that we’re bringing the same simplicity and accessibility to security solutions to the MSP space as we did for our PSA and RMM. That will be a big difference if you fast forward 18 to 24 months.
What are you focusing on in 2024?
There will be a big focus on the security of a platform as well as bringing more simplicity to solutions MSPs can actually deploy to their end clients. That’s going to be a huge push for us. On the PSA front, we want to really simplify their stack and make sure they can get everything from Syncro. So definitely more investment on the invoicing side, supporting different providers and making sure that’s all as seamless as possible because that eliminates extra costs and helps accuracy. We need to think about when we’re launching things, how to make that as easy as possible for MSPs to adopt, the least amount of work for them as possible. We have a ton of opportunity there and that will help some of the developments we’re making resonate more with partners because they’ll be able to take advantage of them and see real impact to their business.
With new, emerging companies always coming to market, how does Syncro stand out in the crowd?
There are a lot of options for MSPs, for sure, and we’ve seen competitors taking different approaches. Syncro has always been that steady solution that is there listening to partners. Our focus on security up until this point is unique and with some of the plans we have coming up the next few months here, people will see that an increased focus on security. We really think that’s a crucial part of being an RMM platform that others may not be investing as heavily in that will differentiate us, as we are a combined platform.