Autotask expands customer base with large VARs

Autotask talks customers, building a channel and further acquisition plans

Autotask says it is expanding beyond its traditional managed service provider (MSP) customer base as more large VARs move into the services arena.

Speaking to Microscope at Autotask Community Live in Miami, Mark Banfield, senior vice president & general manager international, said the software vendor had already signed up around 10 percent of the biggest UK VARs to Autotask’s Professional Services Automation (PSA) platform, and is currently in discussions with another 20 percent.

“Traditionally they’re VARs, they’re resellers but they get dragged into doing services and they’re starting to accelerate their move towards managed services,” he said, citing customer network infrastructure specialist CAE as an example.

Banfield attributed the channel’s shift to managed services to margin erosion on product sales, and increased cloud adoption.

“With the VARs, services are there almost like an accident. They’ve never focused on driving efficiency and profitability around the service side, because predominantly they’re a sales engine to sell hardware. Now they have to drive more profitability, more efficiency, more productivity, as well as create a better customer experience.

“They’re starting to see the opportunity and that’s when they start to look for a transformation in their business,” he said. “It’s high revenue for us, because they’re larger deals.”

Approximately 50 percent of new bookings are generated by Autotask’s international business, with the UK experiencing the fastest growth within the company.

Targeting enterprise-sized customers means Autotask is no longer facing competition from other PSA providers, but ITSM tools, like ServiceNow and BMC Remedy. Where Banfield thinks Autotask has the edge is that the firm allows them to more rapidly deploy a managed services portfolio.

“Most of them are using a variety of disparate tools to run their business,” he said. “One customer has 19 different remote management and service desk management tools to do what we do with RMM and PSA.”

However, Banfield sees similarities between enterprise businesses and Autotask’s traditional SMB customer base, as they’re “looking for cost efficiencies like anyone else.

“So many businesses now are so IT-intensive, there’s so much specialisation that an IT department or service desk would have to build, that they’re looking for ways to bring in outside providers. They’re not outsourcing all their IT, but are they outsourcing certain specialisations of certain levels of service desk? Yes.”

MSPs, too, must adapt to changes in the market if they are to position themselves to be at the forefront of their customers’ digital transformation strategies, said Autotask’s CEO, Mark Cattini.

Speaking with Microscope, Mark Cattini said service providers need to specialise to be successful in 2017. “It’s not going to be enough to just provide infrastructure anymore,” he said.

“Customers are demanding more from technology, they want more from their MSP. If you are a vertically-focused MSP, you’re already doing that. They know their customers’ business and know how to make them more productive. If you’re not a vertical specialist, you have to build that skills set, or you need to vendor manage.”

“It’s not easy but it’s about embracing the change and being willing to adapt,” added Pat Burns, VP of product management.

Also evident at the event was a channel recruitment push by Autotask. The firm is looking to covert its MSP customers into channel partners by adding a “sell-through” model to its traditional “sell to” model.

It is providing MSPs with a channel programme, partner training and dedicated channel managers to sell its Autotask Workplace (AWP) and Autotask Endpoint Backup (AEB) solutions.

“We’re giving customers an opportunity to sell products on top of the existing PSA platform,” said Cattini, adding the vendor currently has “close to 800-1000” customers reselling both solutions.

“We’re making it easy for our existing customers to become resellers of our newer products,” he said.

Detailing Autotask’s plans for the future, Banfield says the vendor wants to increase its market share in core markets like UK, as well as break new ground.

“We’re still only scratching the surface in terms of potential. We have major markets we’ve never gone into like Southern Europe, Middle East and South-East Asia,” he said.

“There is still a lot of greenfield opportunity to go and win new MSPs, as well as white-space opportunity to sell back to our base of customers…increase our wallet share of the products we supply to our existing customers, and identify where we can expand our geographical presence.”

Interestingly, Cattini said customers can also expect the firm to add another managed service to its offering via acquisition, probably based on business continuity platform or security. “It’s not rocket science, but I think it would fit with our customer base, especially if it was part of our unified platform,” he told Microscope.

Autotask’s previous acquisitions include cloud-based remote monitoring and management (RMM) provider CentraStage and file, sync and share firm, Soonr.

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