Autotask CEO: With Consumerization Over, SMBs Stand To Be Fastest IT Growth Area

"There's no question the world has changed. ... People talk about the consumerization of technology. That's over," Cattini said. "Now, we all comfortably take photographs, move them around, integrate them with social media, ... and that's put a ton of pressure on businesses internally because there's a much more informed expectant ... that they have to serve. In my mind, that's the single biggest change in the last 10 years in IT."

91 percent of adults now use cell phones, a Pew Research Center study said, and 56 percent of adults carry smartphones. At the end of 2012, 326.4 million Americans had active cell phones, more than double the 140.8 million active phones 10 years prior, according to a CTIA study.

[Related: Consumerization Of IT A Double-Edged Sword For The Channel ]

"Generally from an economics standpoint, demand drives supply. But, almost the inverse is happening. The accessibility and availability of all these new technologies is driving new demand because it's more accessible," said Patrick Burns, vice president of product management at Autotask, in the joint interview with CRN.

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The familiarization with technology transforms the IT professionals role, Cattini said, because clients are no longer content with projects simply coming in under time and under budget. For the most part, IT is easier to deploy, he said, and the business is more about assessing what technology would best fit a company's needs.

"It's just not acceptable anymore, because guys like you and I have used technology and we want it now, we want it quick and we want it working," Cattini said. "They know technology now, they understand what's possible, and, frankly, they're not going to be BS-ed."

The effect on SMBs is that technology has been "democratized," particularly through SaaS and the cloud, Cattini said. Enterprise-sized businesses have long leveraged technology benefits, what Cattini referred to as the "strategic asset of IT," with small and medium-sized businesses relying mostly only on accounting software. Now SMBs are forced to make the transition as well in order to stay competitive in an increasingly technical marketplace.

"That's why, in my opinion, the fastest growing area [for IT] is small and medium businesses because a lot of them are coming from a standing start," Cattini said.

One study by TechNavio has the SMB market set to grow by 5.5 percent annually between 2012 and 2016, citing growth from more employees using technology in the workplace and increases in cloud deployments.

However, with a rapidly growing market comes a change in attitudes, Cattini said. IT has turned away from technical aspects like being on time and under budget and become more business-oriented though focuses on collaboration and accountability, he said.

"The IT guys aren't being measured on if it's on time and if it's going to work; they're being measured on what's the business development that's derived from this project," Cattini said.

Going forward, Cattini said he expects the market to continue its shift toward a business-development-based model that focuses on return on investment instead of standards, time and budgets.

PUBLISHED Oct. 3, 2013