March 2, 2016
While his rivals round out their portfolios with products already popular in the market, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini says he’s focusing his company’s efforts on building a solutions stack that is prioritized on the future needs of solution providers.
“The ConnectWise Business Suite is the way to go because we future-proof partners’ businesses,” Bellini said in a recent interview with MSPmentor. Prevailing in the business management software market, he said, goes beyond providing tools for professional service automation, remote monitoring and management, remote control and quote and proposal. “It’s about all the other practice areas that you are going to need to open up so you can proactively move your business and migrate your revenue,” he said.
The claim, of course, is a not-so-subtle poke at rivals that have rounded out their portfolios in recent years. This includes Kaseya, which last month bought PSA developer Vorex, and AutoTask, which bought RMM vendor CentraStage in 2014.
“We’re flattered that they are copying our business model. The problem is they are late to the game and we’ve already got the crown jewels and best solutions in our business suite with LabTech, Quosal, ScreenConnect, and more,” says Bellini. “But we’re not done… Now we are going way beyond that with four solutions that we have added to the business suite in the last six months.”
The latest additions include the new cloud management, monitoring and billing tool CloudConsole, which ConnectWise launched last month. Among other things, it helps professional technology service providers develop robust cloud services practices by providing them with “the means to efficiently manage all users, groups and mailboxes via a single, unified dashboard,” according to the company. The console, which has been field tested by more than 300 ConnectWise partners, debuted inside ConnectWise 2016.2 in February.
Since its release, Bellini said the console has sold like “hotcakes” because there is nothing else in the market that consolidates cloud services billing, client monitoring and account management. Over time, Bellini wants ConnectWise to develop solutions that span the entire technology stack and provide tools for managing all solution provider practice areas. Today, the ConnectWise Business Suite today provides tools for running everything from break/fix operations to consulting to project work to managed services and now cloud services providing.
The latest additions, he added, are ideally suited to help partners make the most of recent market developments. This includes Microsoft’s (MSFT) shift to cloud services, which has evolved over time as customers have grown weary of traditional software upgrades. Coupled with the competitive threat offered by technologies including Google Docs, changing customer buying habits have forced Microsoft to alter its business strategy. Initially, the Redmond, Wash., technology giant struggled with the shift—both technologically and commercially. A few years ago, for example, it tried selling Office 365 subscriptions through a single partner, Telstra, in Australia. The move not only limited its market gains, it also alienated business partners.
Since then, Microsoft has evolved. While it once considered playing a greater role in customer experiences, it is now only too happy to have partners manage customer relationships, including billing. In the old Microsoft Advisor program, which attracted a select few companies, partners registered clients that Microsoft would later bill and collect payment from. In return for the sales help, Microsoft paid a commission to supporting partners.
“Now all of a sudden, the admin has been pushed back to the Microsoft partner base, but we are getting what we want,” says Bellini. “You have to understand the history to appreciate what a huge piece of news this is to our marketplace.”
And what a significant opportunity the change presents to partners. Today, everything from Microsoft SQL to Office to Skype is now available in the cloud. Instead of losing Microsoft customers to the cloud, ConnectWise partners can earn money helping them migrate to it with its UserCentric and CloudConsole tools, which Microsoft has helped fund and promote. Furthermore, partners can also attract new customers from Google and elsewhere thanks to Microsoft’s aggressive decision to make its Office suite of apps free to Android users. Nothing short of a masterstroke, Bellini said. Same with the Microsoft cloud service provider program.
All of these developments give Bellini confidence that focusing his company’s energies on new partner opportunities, cloud services especially, will “future-proof” ConnectWise and its partner for years to come.
“What we have done is look at [the cloud] from a business case scenario and tried to eliminate all of the concerns that our partners have about moving to the cloud,” said Bellini.
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