Looking at Autotask Community Live 2013 in Barcelona

Autotask Panel Session

Autotask Community Live 2013 BannerLast week and for the first time ever, Professional Services Automation (PSA) software company Autotask brought their Autotask Community Live! event to Barcelona, Spain.

Some 300+ attendees – the majority of whom were IT Solution Providers and Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) from Europe and the UK, but with guests from Australia, the Middle East and North America – enjoyed a Conference spread over three days, including a full day of “Boot Camps” for existing Autotask customers who wanted to take a deep dive into the product.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend and host two sessions at this years event, and had some interesting and insightful conversations. Here’s a brief overview of what I took away from the event.

Mark Cattini Keynote

During his keynote presentation, Autotask CEO Mark Cattini shared that

  • Autotask now has some 11,000 users globally
  • The growth in Autotask’s International user-base has been explosive – in 2011 some 28% of users were International, 72% from North America. Fast forward to 2013 and 60% are International, 40% North America.

Cattini also noted that for any Vendor looking to enter a local market, the lessons Autotask have learned are clear:-

  • It’s not just about translation, but localisation.
  • Implementation can’t be done over the phone from the US, it needs to be done locally. You need feet on the ground.
  • Offer support in a local timezone with a local number.

The Autotask Economy

Mark Cattini KeynoteAlso during his keynote, Cattini also shared that one of the benefits of Autotask’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) approach is that it enables them to perform wide ranging analytics on the devices MSP’s and their clients use.

  • Worldwide, Autotask clients manage approx 20 million devices including Servers, Desktops, Smartphones and Tablets.

  • This year within Autotask, its European users will generate an estimated 700 million Euros

  • In 2013 Autotask’s European clients will process 8 million tickets. Worldwide, Autotask users will manage an estimated 30 million tickets – that’s 1 ticket every second.

SMB’s are moving to Emerging Services

Cattini went on to explain that he believes the balance between traditional and emerging services is shifting.

  • Traditional Services – IT Consulting, Systems Integration, Outsourcing.
  • Emerging Services – Security as a Service, SaaS, Cloud, Services integration.

Some 15% of total services globally are now comprised of emerging services. Cattini advises that this figure is growing year on year and it can’t be ignored. By 2020 emerging services will be around 40% of total services. The lesson to be drawn from these statistics? Customers like the Pay-as-You-Go model or as Meg Whitman – CEO, HP said “There is a Tectonic plate shift in the way technology is consumed, delivered and the way it is paid for, and my view is that this happens every 10 to 15 years in our industry.”

Areas for IT investment

Continuing his keynote presentation, Cattini offered up 3 major categories for IT investment.

  • Mobile $181 billion by 2017 – up 15%
  • Big Data $53 billion by 2017 – up 58%
  • Cloud $121 billion by 2015 – up 26%

As a side-note, Cattini also shared with me before the event and again during his keynote that he believes there is a search in the mobile device market for an “unconsciously portable device” – citing the shift towards smaller tablets as an indicator. This, he believes, will be the next breakthrough.

Cattini went on to challenge the growth in Big Data and ask how is this relevant to SMB’s? “Let’s look at small data” including Real-Time analytic processing and helping SMB’s understanding how to leverage KPI’s within their business.

“At Autotask, every single day we find a new way of looking at our business” Cattini offered.

What is Smart IT?

Autotask Panel Session

The idea of “Smart IT” permeated Cattini’s keynote.

“Technology for it’s own sake is merely interesting. The reason you deploy a mobile solution is to increase satisfaction. The reason you use Big Data is to improve profitability. The reason you deploy Cloud is to improve productivity. Smart IT is using technology to deliver positive business outcomes for your customers and yourselves.”

For me this was the key takeaway from the Conference. For years the IT industry has been talking about the need to focus on benefits, not features. Cattini and Autotask have found a strong way of emphasising this view, in my opinion and one that was re-iterated in my own panel session (pictured right) featuring industry experts later in the event.

The Autotask Roadmap

Of specific interest to those Autotask MSP’s in attendance was news on the Autotask Roadmpa.

“Product Management is the most difficult job in our business.” Cattini said during his keynote and shared that it took him a long time to understand how important Product Management was. He understand it now.

Going on, Cattini shared that Autotask have multiple inputs for suggestions and they now have a standardised disciplined approach to prioritisation of product improvements. In 2013 this will see (or has already seen) enhancements such as:-

  • Adoption of ITIL standards. This was the 2nd most requested feature by International customers. ITIL supports the Smart IT ethos of continuous improvement. ITIL Incident Management has been implemented within Autotask and Change Management will be implemented into product in January 2014.
  • Increased granular security across many modules of the Autotask tool.
  • Increased Local market flexibility. The new Autotask Invoice Template Editor is released this month (October). There are additions of Custom Address format, a Tax Category matrix and ISO Country Standardisation too.
  • Enhanced Efficiency and Usability including the addition of the Time entry stopwatch as well as 100’s of small usability improvements.
  • Service Intelligence improvements including the Livereports Custom Designer which enables you to gain a unique insight into your business.

“Tell us what you need and we’ll prioritise it” shared Cattini.

New Autotask UI

Autotask New UI AnnouncementThe biggest Product news coming out of the event was Cattini’s announcement of a completely re-built User Interface (UI) for the product.

“We’re going to design a modern, elegant, beautiful UI. It’s going to drive productivity, learn-ability and consistency. We’re re-imaging the PSA category to deliver on the promise of Smart IT”.

In the closing statement of Cattini’s keynote he offered “Autotask is complex. It’s a business management platform. But it should not be, and doesn’t need to be complicated. Usability shouldn’t be a constraint in driving value from the system.”

Autotask brings US style Conferences to Europe

Autotask Party

On a personal level, I’ve long suggested that we don’t do SMB Conferences well here in Europe. They tend to be unambitious, flat and missing the “buzz” of the equivalent US Conferences I’ve attended.

Autotask have now broken this mould – Community Live felt huge, drawing visitors from all over the world with a thriving Vendor presence that was well utilised throughout, tons of interesting sessions from genuine experts in their field, and an amazing venue in the 5 star Hotel Rey Juan Carlos – the site of a former Olympic Village.

Autotask Stilt DancersThen there were the parties! Autotask made this a memorable event – offering up Razzmatazz that will long last in the memory. Even if many heads were a little sore the next morning… 🙂

There is so much effort put into these events from Autotask as a company with resources allocated to organising this show almost 365 days in advance. This doesn’t go un-noticed by attendees – the show ran on-time and flawlessly. I genuinely didn’t hear a negative comment of note about the show. Improvements, sure, but everyone found the event valuable.

Autotask Community Live! 2014

Thoughts now turn to Autotask Community Live! 2014 which takes place in Miami, FL in the USA. The European event will return again in 2014 too. Where? That’d be telling – but you can rest assure Autotask Community Live has established itself as an industry “must attend” event for Vendors and MSP’s alike.


Photos courtesy of Nordic Solutions, Len Dicostanzo and Susanne Dansey – thanks for sharing some awesome pictures!


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