If you’re an IT management software provider and you aren’t paying attention to the ANZ market, you may be missing a giant opportunity and giving your competitors that are making moves into the space a big edge. Case in point, ConnectWise just announced it's bringing IT Nation Connect Down Under. The conference, which has run in the U.S. for the last 14 years, is expected to draw about 300 partners to the Gold Coast next March.
While partners from ANZ have always been welcome at the U.S. event, the time and cost required to make the trip put it out of reach for most, shutting them out of a large part of the ConnectWise community. The company recently conducted a survey in which 95 percent of respondents said they’d be interested in attending an IT Nation in Australia.
The provider has good reason to accommodate these partners. Recently, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini said the company experienced more than a 37 percent increase in the number of partners in Australia in the last two years, and that Australia and New Zealand all together accounted for more than 7 percent of ConnectWise’s revenue in 2017. It opened a new office in Sydney earlier this year that allows partners to receive on-site product training, education and face-to-face time with their account managers.
Gregg Lalle, vice president of international sales and strategy at ConnectWise, says that the company has expanded the IT Nation brand to Europe over the last few years, and now is the ideal time to leverage that success and invest in a program specific to its APAC partners.
“The APAC region continues to be a critical cornerstone for ConnectWise’s global growth, and today our always expanding number of partners in the region has topped 2,000,” Lalle told Channel Futures. “We have highly engaged partners in this part of the world, and ConnectWise continues to see strong growth both in customer acquisition and in our community. Their response, along with our vendors, has been overwhelmingly supportive since we announced next year’s inaugural IT Nation Connect in Australia.”
ConnectWise enjoys a stellar reputation for community-building. Recently, representatives from ConnectWise and two of its competitors, Kaseya and Datto, which bought Autotask last year in a deal that rocked the sector, joined together on stage at Channel Partners Evolution in a throw-down Thunderdome session on RMM products. When asked what each company admired about the others, both Rob Rae from Datto and Jim Lippie from Kaseya cited ConnectWise’s long-standing, strong partner community, dubbed IT Nation. Expanding IT Nation Connect into the ANZ market also expands the ConnectWise community into new geos.
The AANZ Opportunity
ConnectWise isn’t the only vendor in the IT channel that’s upping its ANZ game in recent months, and lags behind competitors such as Datto, which has been very busy cultivating its own community in the region. Many OEMs have long had informal partner programs in ANZ, but as they realize the market Down Under is ripe for development, those companies with the resources to do so are rushing to establish firmer footholds in the fast-growing market.
Jamie Warner, CEO of Australia-based customer service application provider Invarosoft, which also has a sister MSP, eNerds, says the state of the channel in Australia is thriving as much as it is in the U.S., and that the competitive landscape is even more ferocious than its North American cousin.
“The key difference is that MSPs are concentrated in our five major cities so there is lots of competition among each other for key SMB business client,” he says. “Vendors are definitely competing hard against each other for market share and an example of this is ConnectWise announcing they are bringing IT Nation to Australia next year to focus on the Asia Pacific region.”
While the ANZ channel has by and large lagged behind its U.S. counterpart in terms of business model and sophistication of offerings, it’s catching up incredibly quickly. In part, this is due to Aussie shops being more willing to take risks, according to Datto’s Rob Rae, which fits right in with the prevailing stereotype of its culture. Because of their willingness to move quickly, the market is fertile ground for vendors looking to grab hold of MSPs in the region and spin up channel programs fast. Warner agrees.
“The Australian and NZ market is innovative, motivated and hungry to build exceptional MSP businesses and it’s an exciting time to be in the channel,” says Warner.
Three years ago, Datto had zero employees and zero MSPs in ANZ. Today it has close to 50 staff and almost 1000 partners. That’s how fast the market is growing. Vendors have an opportunity, but they can’t approach community-building the way they do in the U.S. Rae says that too many vendors try to connect with ANZ partners using phone calls and webinars, which just doesn’t cut it.
“You need to get out there and show them you’re serious,” he explains. “And once you are there — keep going back. Spend time with them. Similar to some European markets, that face-to-face, eye-to eye contact is one that builds trust.”
That falls in line with ConnectWise’s decision to establish a physical IT Nation presence in Australia and New Zealand, where no doubt it hopes to build a community as strong as the one it enjoys in North America. Competitor Kaseya, which has had a significant presence and established team in Australia and New Zealand for well over 10 years, says the market is incredibly important for the company. It takes a similar, boots-on-the-ground approach.
“Each year we host our annual Kaseya MSP Awards event in Sydney, where we honor our top Australian and New Zealand MSP partners,” CEO Fred Voccola says. “Additionally, we host a number of other regional events across APAC throughout the year including customer meetups, customer summits and 'Tech Jam' events.”
So Kaseya, Autotask (now part of Datto) and now ConnectWise have demonstrated a determination to grab and keep market share in the region. They’re doing more than just talking the talk. Each of these three competitors emphasizes the importance of in-person interaction with MSPs Down Under.
“A handshake in ANZ still goes a very, very long way,” says Rae.