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Cloud Computing

Autotask Has Capacity to Go and Grow

You might think of Autotask as a sort of SAP for IT service providers, suppliers and resellers. The Albany, New York-headquartered company provides essential online programs for running these businesses from CRM to service desk, project management, billing, reporting and scheduling. While hardly a household name, Autotask occupies a significant niche and already possesses a tidy revenue stream. What’s perhaps more interesting is its power to add to that base.

The company attracted hundreds of users to its conference last week in Barcelona. While bringing together users can be a dangerous affair for many business software companies, the audience was positive, engaged and clearly keen on sharing knowledge and best practices. This is often the case with cloud companies: transparent pricing and easy exiting services seem to have dispersed the combative atmosphere that once prevailed at such events.

However, for a company that helps customers manage billable hours, I asked the Autotask’s British CEO Mark Cattini (pictured) whether his audience was not about to diminish in size as cloud computing becomes a common IT delivery model, thus obviating the need for middlemen.

“There’s definitely an evolution in managed services and it’s moving towards recurring revenue,” he says. “But really it’s the technology experts being disrupted and there’s an opportunity for the channel to move from deployment to become trusted advisors.”

This is especially the case in more complex environments and Cattini gives the example of Manchester City Football Club where Autotask and service provider Synergy provide far more than a task management and accounting system; thay also help deal with merchandising, security and other infrastructure concerns.

Attending the conference, Chris de Cleene of Cheops in Belgium says Autotask provides a way to manage his service but also visibility across the line.

“We’re an IT solution provider in Belgium looking to help firms take IT worries away to concentrate on strategic IT. A lot of customers have a poor view of IT, CxOs have a poor view. Something like HP OpenView is too heavy [but Autotask] is scalable. We’re 40-50 people and have doubled in size. Contact was very good with support for implementation. We want to be able to customise KPIs at the blink of an eye.”

Today, Autotask gets about 90% of its money from the IT channel with internal IT departments and digital agencies accounting for the remainder. However, there’s nothing to stop the company picking up more broadly on other types of services and scaling up to larger firms. There’s also scope for geographical expansion, given that the company hasn’t yet fully internationalised its services and major languages like Portuguese are not yet available. Plans for a more modern user interface might also broaden appeal and better enable Autotask to compete with direct rivals ConnectWise and Tigerpaw Software as well as cloud applications like NetSuite that include service provider modules.

Privately-held, Autotask does not disclose revenues but Cattini hints at annual revenues of around $40m and the company is still growing fast with much of that down to word-of-mouth recommendations. Currently occupying a niche, Autotask has every chance of carving out a broader furrow.

 

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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