Small Business IT: Boom or Bust in 2008?
The VAR Guy hates the “R” word. Everybody seems to be talking about an imminent “recession.” A Harvard economist insists there’s more than 50 percent chance of the US heading into a recession. Hmmm. Will IT sales hold up in the small business space? Here are two quick perspectives from thought leaders at Cisco Systems and Autotask (a leading managed service platform provider).
Chuck Robbins, senior VP of Cisco’s US commercial business, focuses exclusively on companies with 1,500 employees or less. All of those customers are serviced by Cisco’s channel partners. Promoted into his current position in December, Robbins says his biggest focus is finding ways to accelerate Cisco’s growth in the commercial market. Basically, he needs to shift the organization into overdrive because “it is the fastest-growing market for Cisco right now on a global basis,” crowed Robbins.
And we’re not talking about legacy switches and first-generation WiFi sales. Rather, small and midsize businesses are among Cisco’s most aggressive adopters of new technology — everything from 802.11n WiFi to collaboration software, unified communications and the WebEx platform. Even TelePresence is gaining a following in some small financial services companies, notes Robbins. He also says that interest in Cisco’s managed services strategy, which the company announced in October, is still accelerating.
So what’s Robbins’ biggest concern? He didn’t sound panicked. But he conceded to The VAR Guy that “we’re all keeping our eyes on the economy right now. The good news in our space is our partners service lots and lots of customers, rather than 10 or 15 huge customrs that want to slow spending.” (Side note: Robbins wasn’t suggesting an enterprise spending slowdown; rather, he was noting the power of customer diversity in the SMB space.)
Meanwhile, growth remains a key area of focus in the managed services space. The VAR Guy hears Autotask CEO Bob Godgart is seeking to expand his employee ranks by 30 to 40 percent in 2008. In fact, Godgart told out sister site, MSPmentor.net, about several newly created and open positions at Autotask.
If Godgart is worried about a spending slowdown in the MSP space, it certainly doesn’t show. Rather, it sounds like recruiting talent to Autotask’s headquarters, near Albany, N.Y., is the company’s top priority for the weeks ahead. That type of optimism may keep MSPs upbeat as whispers of a possible US recession continue.