A technology reprioritization is changing the way IT is deployed, managed and implemented among small businesses, and solution providers and MSPs need to ensure they're evolving too in order to continue to serve their customers, said Mark Cattini, CEO of Autotask.
Last week, Autotask held its annual Community Live conference, an event that brought out almost 800 people, including 600 solution providers. The ever-evolving, and mobilizing, face of outsourced IT was the top subject among attendees, Cattini said.
"People are thinking about outsourcing on a cost basis as much as they can. The concepts of a core system, a big accounting system, a big OS -- people are rethinking the idea of upgrading those [solutions]," Cattini said.
He cited Forrester Research that forecasts that 35 percent of IT budgets will be outsourced by 2014, up from 17 percent in 2009. "That includes staff, hardware. That's a key theme," he said.
Cattini advises solution providers to start thinking more about not only digital integration, in terms of the consumerization of devices to be managed, but also applications that are now available to small businesses for the first time.
"SMBs used to have a local hardware VAR and one or two key applications and desktop apps. We moved into the RMM generation, and that was meaningful technology that could be supported cheaper and was more scalable. Now everything has moved to the cloud," he said. "We talked about that as being the MSP of the future. The barriers are so low now through SaaS that a lot of apps can play in a [small-business] environment that never would have in the past. And SMBs are spending more on technology because the ROI is so obvious."
Cattini noted that enterprise software giants SAP and Oracle have not only spent billions on acquisitions to expand both their product and customer reach to the SMB space but also moved to more of an SaaS model that can deliver applications to small businesses in a more effective manner. And, that highlights the need for service providers to support those clients both from an IT perspective as well as from a business perspective, he said.
"The environment is a simple one for end users because MSPs manage the complexity. Even managing big on-premise applications can be done by taking advantage of shared hardware," Cattini said. "It's taking complexity out of the environment and provides the MSP of the future with a sense of moving beyond the concept of trusted IT advisors to becomes business advisors."
NEXT: Certified Consulting Partner ProgramMeanwhile, Autotask is hoping its recently announced Certified Consulting Partner program can help MSPs become more business consultants.
The program invites top MSPs to go through a special training curriculum to become certified in order to better connect them with new and existing customers looking to better maximize the value of their Autotask implementation, according to the East Greenbush, N.Y.-based company.
Feedback for the program from Community Live indicates that many MSPs are interested in becoming certified partners and that demand will be there for those partners to assist other partners with customers, Autotask's Cattini said.
"I didn't know if people would think it was ho-hum, but it was better received than I thought," Cattini said. "The point is we are the experts of building the platform and technology and processes and data filtering for our customers. They are the real experts in delivering the services and consulting. If you need a certain expertise, we can recommend this consultant. In this industry, and in any industry, consulting [services] are there if you will pay for it. It's not free. And people are willing to pay for it. That's the bottom line."