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January 31, 2018 |

ConnectWise Re-Tools Automation Nation and IT Nation Events, Opens Doors to Competitors

Automation Nation will now offer technical content for the entire ConnectWise portfolio, allowing IT Nation to focus on business best practices content. Datto, Kaseya, and other rivals formerly barred from those shows are now welcome to attend.

Seeking to make attendance decisions easier for its partners and reinforce its commitment to collaboration with other software makers—including direct competitors—ConnectWise has revamped the content model for its Automation Nation and IT Nation events, and removed all restrictions on who is eligible to attend.

The Tampa, Fla.-based managed services software vendor announced those changes during the Q1 2018 meeting of its HTG peer groups unit, which is currently underway in Phoenix. ConnectWise acquired HTG, a best practices, coaching, and peer group vendor based in Harlan, Ia., three weeks ago.

Now in its seventh year, Automation Nation has historically delivered technical content about the RMM platform currently known as ConnectWise Automate and formerly known as LabTech, while IT Nation provided a mix of business and technical content covering multiple products. Going forward, Automation Nation will present in-depth, how-to instruction about the entire ConnectWise solution portfolio and IT Nation will focus on business growth and best practices information.

The change is designed to clarify which employees partners should send to which event. Starting this year, “technical operators,” such as technicians, service managers, and developers responsible for integrating third-party products with the ConnectWise platform should attend Automation Nation. Business owners, salespeople, and other non-technical “business operators” should attend IT Nation.

ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini expects HTG staffers to play prominent speaking roles at IT Nation, this year and beyond.

“There will be a good, healthy smattering of HTG knowledge and wisdom and content,” he says. “There’s a lot that we can take and learn from HTG and then apply it to the masses.”

Timing for this year’s events is unchanged. Automation Nation will take place June 18 to 20 and IT Nation will occur November 7 to 9, both in Orlando, Fla. The European edition of IT Nation will be held in London as scheduled too, from April 18 to 20.

All three events are now open to anyone interested in attending, including ConnectWise rivals. A small handful of competitors, including Datto Inc. (which officially merged with Autotask Corp. last month), Kaseya Ltd., QuoteWerks, and SolarWinds MSP had been barred from those shows in the past. According to Bellini, those restrictions were inconsistent with his company’s dedication to open APIs and open platforms.

“Our whole mission is to bring all the great solutions in this ecosystem to one pane of glass, and if we’re going to do that then we’ve got to include even competitive solutions as well,” Bellini says. “It’s the right thing to do for the industry and it’s the right thing to do for our partners.”

Word of ConnectWise’s new event model arrives some three weeks after Datto announced plans to cancel the Autotask Community Live event scheduled for September and present the heavily technical content attendees would normally get at that show during its U.S. DattoCon partner event instead.

That conference will be held in Austin, Texas, on the same dates as Automation Nation. Despite the overlap, ConnectWise has signed on as a sponsor of this year’s DattoCon. Datto, in turn, will sponsor the European edition of IT Nation in April. Both agreements were reached on Monday during a face-to-face meeting at the HTG conference between Bellini and Datto CEO Austin McChord.

“I personally invited him to IT Nation 2018 in the United States as well, and he says he will be there,” says Bellini of McChord. During a morning keynote at the HTG meeting this morning, Bellini said he has invited the CEOs of the other companies formerly banned from IT Nation to attend this year as well.

Datto has loudly stated its intention to continue offering open APIs and integrating with other platforms since the Autotask merger first became public in October. McChord’s presence at an HTG event underscores how far he and Bellini are willing to go to in their public embrace of openness. At least one HTG peer group member in attendance at this week’s conference was impressed.

“I really wouldn’t have imagined that at this event the CEO of ConnectWise’s number one competitor would have been invited [and] would have been welcome,” says Steve Tutino, president of Ipanema Solutions, an MSP with offices in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Woodlands, Texas.

HTG’s Q1 meetings conclude on Friday.


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