By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor
As another highly successful IT Nation event wound down on Saturday afternoon, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini and I sat down to talk about the vendor's message to its partners and plans for next year. He stressed that ConnectWise is more than a software vendor; rather, it is a business transformation services company focused on helping partners grow — profitably. As part of that, I've seen Arnie present several time around themes less tied to ConnectWise's PSA tool and more tied to pending changes in the channel and strategies for meeting those challenges.
For example, in his keynote to the nearly 1,150 or so VAR and MSP attendees (and nearly 300 more vendor reps), Arnie talked about the Modern Office and the nearly 20 places in any business where VARs and MSPs can offer value, and therefore tie themselves more closely to clients. "We want them to use that image to talk to their clients. They can download it, print it and go," says Arnie. "Our goal isn't about ConnectWise — the banners and posters aren't even branded with our name. It is about what we can do to triple the profits of the IT Nation."
As part of that message of growth, Arnie tackled the issue of cloud computingand the anxiety many in the channel have about the impact of cloud on their business. "They need to have a strategy and get over it," says Arnie. The reason? "If you own the Modern Office, if you have a business relationship with your customers, and their servers go to the cloud, who cares? You still have the rest of that relationship." He feels strongly that the status of "Virtual IT Department" — fueled by help desk offerings and vendor management that makes your customers' lives simpler — will take the place of "trusted advisor" status as a goal for MSPs. "We want them to be proactive; we don't want them to wait for the pain when a competitor tackles your customers' full range of needs and takes those customers," says Arnie. "But if they want to wait, then they will still have the tools they need when they are ready."
One way Arnie is going to further tackle business building strategies is to hit the road in 2011 for his own version of "Undercover Boss." Since nearly everyone in the IT Nation knows him, he won't be so much "undercover" as "What Not To … Do In Your IT Business." Arnie plans to tour 10 partner offices and serve as their on-premise consultant. The channel should also expect to see more investment/acquisitions by ConnectWise in 2011, as well as a continuing flow of education and training opportunities that help provide channel partners with best practices around HR, marketing, sales, and more. "We want to help them gain business acumen," says Arnie, who admits to reading 40 business books a year, listening to any business speakers he can find on YouTube, and devouring the Wall Street Journal every day. "I take all that in, I think on it, and then I try to package it up for these guys to help them succeed. That is what it is all about."