We've just passed the midway point of 2016 — the perfect time to check in with key industry influencers for their views on the IT channel, the economy and emerging trends for partners. In today’s edition, we hear from Arnie Bellini, CEO of ConnectWise.
The business management software provider reorganized multiple products under a single corporate umbrella in 2015. And more recently, ConnectWise has expanded its CloudConsole platform beyond its Office 365 heritage to support Microsoft Azure. But what moves were top of mind for Bellini in the first half of 2016 -- and what are ConnectWise's priorities for the rest of this year? Here's the check-in.
ChannelE2E: What are the three most important business/IT trends you tracked during the first half of 2016, and what did they mean to ConnectWise?
Bellini: I'd point to cloud services; disrupters and power to the customers; and digital security. Here's why.
- Cloud: The cloud movement is gaining momentum and is gaining traction at a very fast pace. The cloud is not a “maybe” that technology solution providers can wait to think about next year. It’s here and it’s now. Technology solution providers need to understand that over the next five years, half of all SMBs will have moved everything to the cloud. What this means for technology solutions providers is that they will need to continue to evolve their business models and offerings to meet their customer’s needs. Don’t fight the cloud – find a way to make money on it.
- Disrupters & Power to the Customers: Uber and AirBnB are just two examples of breakthroughs that have permanently shattered their industry. What Uber and AirBnB have done is used technology to cause a shift in power to happen from the suppliers and put it in the hands of the consumer. This trend to suppliers being “on demand” is only doing to continue. There will always be disrupters, especially in technology. We need to acknowledge that and embrace it – and find a way to make money off of it. We see this trend as continuing.
- Digital Security: As the migration towards the cloud continues, the way SMBs work will inevitably change as well. Employees will expect to be able to work from anywhere and have their data and systems secure and available on demand. This means that we need to be in front of security threats and turn them in to opportunities. Kevin Mitnik, keynote speaker at Automation Nation 2016, urged us never to underestimate the power of human error, like divulging passwords or losing a laptop. Security is a real concern for SMBs, and also a great opportunity for technology solution providers to educate their customers on security and help them put the best security solutions in place.
ChannelE2E: How have ConnectWise's partners been evolving in the first half of 2016?
Bellini: Our partners are grappling with the cloud. It’s a big unknown for a lot of our partners, and we get that. Our biggest piece of advice that we are going to be most vocal about is getting in front of offering cloud solutions to their customers. Don’t be left behind, be the ones in your customers' offices, educating them on what the cloud is and how they can leverage it in their business to accomplish their business goals. Microsoft is marketing the cloud directly to end users and SMBs. Talk to them about the cloud, before they come and ask you about it.
ChannelE2E: Let’s turn to ConnectWise itself. What was the most strategic product or service the company launched in recent months?
Bellini: ConnectWise CloudConsole solves the biggest pain of Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) today, which is billing for licenses of Office 365, while also allowing partners to manage and monitor their clients in a multi-tenant environment. CloudConsole is just one example of how ConnectWise is looking to the future for industry trends and creating meaningful solutions for our partners to do their jobs better. CloudConsole is now extending beyond Office 365 management to Azure management. Launched earlier this year, partners using CloudConsole already manage more than 1 million seats of Office 365.
ChannelE2E: What are ConnectWise's top three priorities for the second half of 2016?
Bellini: They involve one company alignment; a shared user interface; and helping partners to capitalize on the cloud.
- One company alignment: We are officially one company – ConnectWise. We will continue to evolve our processes to offer seamless experiences to our partners. We are continuously looking at our resources and roadmaps to identify areas that we can collapse and collaborate. We have a team of all-star colleagues at ConnectWise. They are our biggest asset and have been really innovative in aligning our products and services with the partners in mind.
- Shared User Interface: ConnectWise is making major developments towards creating a shared user interface across all of the ConnectWise products. We realize that our partners need to be able to seamlessly work across our products, and do it quickly to best respond to customer needs. We want to make it as simple as possible for our partners to use our products and best serve their customers.
- Helping partners capitalize on the cloud: We will continue to talk to our partners about the major impact the cloud is going to have on our partners and their customers, we can’t prepare them enough. We are continuing to evolve our solutions to help them take control of this situation and learn how to make money off of it.
ChannelE2E: What new steps are you taking to empower/train partners in the 2nd half of 2016?
Bellini: Here again I'll point to three key areas...
- Educating Partners on the Cloud: We have been working with partners hand-in-hand to take advantage of the cloud. We have built ebooks and kits to help partners understand the opportunities in from of them and grow their business.
- Unified ConnectWise University: We are striving towards combining all of our product universities. We want to make it as easy and simple as possible for our partners to find materials on how to use our products and train their teams on our partners.
- Education of Releases: ConnectWise is putting more time and energy behind communicating our releases to our partners. We want our partners to take advantage of all of the functionality we are releasing.
Mid-Year Check-In, delivered each July by ChannelE2E, shares the latest views and perspectives from IT channel thought leaders.