IT Nation 2015 2

IT Nation 2015 Will Come Down To Four Words

connectwise-scorecardAs ConnectWise prepares for IT Nation 2015 (Nov. 11-13, Orlando), CEO Arnie Bellini is gearing up to rally the IT service provider industry around four key words. They are: People, Process, Product and Passion.

IT Nation is ConnectWise’s annual partner conference. This year’s event is expected to attract more than 2,000 IT service providers and managed services providers (MSPs) — the vast majority of which focus on recurring revenue opportunities.

Bellini and Lemonis both are set to deliver keynote presentations at the conference. During earlier IT Nation keynotes, Bellini often spoke about the IT service provider business journey — and various business stages that entrepreneurs need to navigate. But this year, I sense the keynote will be as much about ConnectWise’s journey as it is about the IT service provider journey.

But how does “People, Process, Product and Passion” apply to ConnectWise and its partners amid IT Nation 2015? Here are some early clues.

IT Nation 2015: People

No doubt, Bellini enjoys talking about technology. But those four key words — People, Process, Product and Passion — take special meaning this year, especially as key company leaders have moved into new positions:

  • Chief Operating Officer David Bellini has shifted most of his time and focus to Europe and international business development.
  • CFO Eileen Kamerick arrived in April 2015, backed by 30 years of experience across finance, accounting and M&A activities.
  • Adam Slutskin is now chief revenue officer — overseeing sales across all the product brands.

It sounds like ConnectWise and its sister brands now employ roughly 800 to 900 people or so. Most of the employee activity occurs in Tampa, Fla., but many Quosal team members remain in Seattle — and David Bellini’s shift to Europe stretches the company across additional time zones.

IT Nation 2015: Process

How will ConnectWise drive its own growth — and service provider growth — going forward? Surely, documented processes will help. From HTG Peer Groups to TruMethods (related: Does Gary Pica Still Matter?) to ConnectWise User Groups, just about every MSP-centric organization drives home the value of documented processes.

In the case of ConnectWise, that increasingly involves DevOps and Agile Software Development. The company is now on a quarterly release software schedule. And if you poke around ConnectWise marketing practices, you’ll also find some Agile best practices flowing into that team’s initiatives as well.

Process also is critically important as ConnectWise coordinates R&D, business development and sales from Seattle to Tampa to Europe… to Amazon Web Service’s cloud (which ConnectWise increasingly leverages).

IT Nation 2015: Product

It has been about five years since ConnectWise Capital, the company’s investment arm, invested in LabTech Software (2010); four years since the Quosal deal (2011); and nearly a year since the ScreenConnect acquisition. All of those offerings are now bundled under the ConnectWise Business Suite brand, according to the company’s website. My hunch? That umbrella brand suggests that very deep integrations are on the way… perhaps in time for IT Nation 2015.

During the early years, ConnectWise’s primary rival was Autotask. Then came the 2010 RMM (remote monitoring and management)  investment in LabTech Software, trigging a product war with Kaseya (among others).

While competition with Autotask remains fierce, I sense that the RMM competition has shifted following a range of private equity and M&A deals in recent years. In particular, N-able has performed very well under SolarWinds’ ownership. And Continuum and LogicNow have successfully diversified their platforms across storage, security and more.

Now, it’s ConnectWise’s turn… an opportunity to prove that the next stage of product integration is truly unfolding at the company.

IT Nation 2015: Passion

It’s sort of ironic to end this article with Passion… since every successful entrepreneur journey has to start with Passion.

So, I guess I’ll end my day by telling you where I started my day. I was in Orlando. I sent ConnectWise an email saying I was in Florida and around for a potential catch-up meeting. Soon after, a lunch invite hit my inbox. And then I started driving south to Tampa — toward ConnectWise’s offices. And it continued with a sit-down with Arnie Bellini, David Bellini and Director of Marketing Mark Sokol.

Privately, I wondered…

  • Are Arnie and David Bellini still passionate about partner success?
  • Are they the same entrepreneurs that I met when Amy Katz and I co-launched MSPmentor and The VAR Guy in 2008? (Note: We sold and exited those brands by 2014.)

The short answers: Yes, they’re still passionate. No, they’re not the same entrepreneurs I met in 2008. They’ve survived vendor consolidation. They survived the shift from shrink-wrapped software licenses to cloud subscriptions. In fact, they got ahead of the shifts and drove the M&A wave.

The company’s growth-centric culture remains in place, though I don’t have any firm revenue or profit figures to pinpoint just how much growth the company is driving.

But again, this isn’t the ConnectWise of 2008. Nor is it the ConnectWise of 2012.

To navigate growth, you certainly need to constantly evolve your people, processes and products. The one variable you can’t control — the thing you either have or you don’t — is passion.

Arnie (essentially the co-owner, coach and GM of the ConnectWise team) still has the passion. But does that passion still infiltrate the ConnectWise locker room — all 800 to 900 team members? And can that passion infiltrate the broader ConnectWise community of IT service providers?

ChannelE2E will get the answers at IT Nation 2015.

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