ConnectWise, OnForce: On A Collision Course?

At first glance, ConnectWise and OnForce have vastly different business strategies. But take a closer look and you'll find that the two companies appear to be on a collision course -- especially as managed service providers (MSPs) seek to outsource work to one another through trusted partnerships.

ConnectWise specializes in professional services automation (PSA) software -- which allows VARs and MSPs to automate many of their business processes. OnForce, in stark contrast, operates a large online marketplace that allows VARs and MSPs to outsource work to one another across the US and Canada. And OnForce earlier today announced major enhancements to its marketplace.

Now here's where things get interesting:

  • Autotask -- which is ConnectWise's primary rival -- recently announced a relationship with OnForce. The deal provides integration links between Autotask's PSA software and the OnForce marketplace; the relationship allows Autotask customers to manage outsourcing engagements with OnForce's 13,000 active community members.
  • ConnectWise, meanwhile, operates ConnectWise Network -- an online marketplace for ConnectWise customers to outsource work to one another. During the ConnectWise Partner Summit last week in Orlando, CEO Arnie Bellini described several forthcoming enhancements to the network.
Both efforts offer a range of benefits. The OnForce strategy allows any VAR to work with any VAR -- as long as they join the OnForce marketplace. The ConnectWise Network, in contrast, is far more targeted but allows ConnectWise's customers (many of whom are fiercely loyal to Bellini) to work with one another.

Next Moves?

Over the next few months, I expect ConnectWise and OnForce to sort out their respective global marketplace strategies. During the ConnectWise Partner Summit, Bellini hinted that a broader push for the marketplace could be coming -- though the company has no comment about those potential efforts at this time.

Meanwhile, OnForce has opened its marketplace in Canada and is now exploring potential opportunities in Europe. OnForce insiders say the company is evaluating several next-step strategies including:
  • Whether to build or buy an IT marketplace in Europe.
  • Or whether to hold off on Europe, and instead launch new types of marketplaces in North America focused on other industries -- such as home improvement/home maintenance services.
Regardless, I expect Bellini to continue investing in the ConnectWise Network as a targeted alternative to the OnForce marketplace.
TAGS: Sales
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