ConnectWise has consolidated its events, user groups, peer groups, and training resources within a single organization named after IT Nation, the Tampa, Fla.-based managed services software vendor’s annual fall partner conference.
The new unit is led by Pete Sorensen, whose title is now vice president of IT Nation. His new responsibilities include managing the consulting, coaching, and peer group venture founded by his father Arlin and formerly known as HTG. ConnectWise acquired HTG in January.
Going forward, the former HTG Peer Groups operation will be known as IT Nation Evolve and ConnectWise’s user groups will be known as IT Nation Share.
The conference previously named IT Nation and held every November, meanwhile, is now named IT Nation Connect. Automation Nation, a separate conference held in June and originally targeted at users of the ConnectWise Automate RMM platform, will be called IT Nation Explore beginning in 2019.
As ChannelPro has reported previously, ConnectWise will also modify the content of those two events, presenting business growth and thought leadership material at IT Nation Connect and technical instruction at IT Nation Explore.
According to Sorensen, today’s news is about more than just new names for old ventures.
“It’s not just a new paint job,” he says. “This is really representative of a larger effort on our part to unify all aspects of our community.”
The IT Nation organization’s overarching mission, Sorensen continues, is “to create experiences that ignite success.” The specific shape and substance of those experiences and how they will differ from what came before, however, have yet to be determined.
“There are sure a lot of opportunities in front of us that we’ll be sorting through in the coming months,” Sorensen says.
Training and activities now under development aimed at helping partners better manage their balance sheet, however, is an example of what ConnectWise partners can expect to see more of in the future, along with efforts to designed to help community members introduce security offerings.
“As we look at the broad community, we really feel like that’s an area where we need to help lead and encourage folks,” Sorensen says. ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini made clear in an interview with ChannelPro at this year’s Automation Nation event that security is a core part of the vendor’s product roadmap and market strategy for the future.
Other partner community changes introduced next year could include closer connections between IT Nation’s user groups and peer groups. “There are opportunities for synergies,” Sorensen says.
Unlike other parts of ConnectWise, the new IT Nation unit is not responsible for generating a profit.
“We’re sure not out looking to drive a bunch of revenue off of the things we do,” says Sorensen, noting that he will seek to collect only as much money as ConnectWise needs to break even financially on IT Nation activities. “This is an investment that ConnectWise is making in the partners and helping the partners be successful.”
Partner engagement will be one way Sorensen and his team measure ConnectWise’s return on that investment.
“If we’re doing our job and we’re creating the right types of experiences and providing the right types of content where we’re truly helping partners grow the way they want to grow, we should begin engaging more and more partners and engaging them more deeply,” Sorensen says.
ConnectWise plans to retire the HTG brand gradually over the next six months. “I don’t think it will be a surprise to anybody,” Sorensen says. Though some long-time HTG Peer Group members have an emotional connection to the original name, he continues, “they all also understand that being able to unify peer groups with the rest of the community is kind of a logical next step.”
Some HTG Peer Group members voiced wariness about the organization’s future to ChannelPro in the immediate aftermath of the ConnectWise transaction. According to Sorensen, however, very little about that part of the business has changed.
“That was a promise that Arlin made to the community early on, that we were not going to change the way that we ran HTG as part of our becoming part of the ConnectWise family,” he says. “I’d say we’ve held very true to that.”