Connectwise Rolls Out Initiatives, Updates Aplenty at IT Nation

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

PSA platform vendor rolled out a host of new initiatives and platform improvements during its sold-out IT Nation event in Orlando, including a native iPhone app, a promise to redesign the UI to fit tablets, and a subscription-based program to provide a huge range of certification training.

It was truly an IT Nation at the annual Connectwise users conference in Orlando this week, with 1,500 MSPs gathered to hear not just from the PSA platform company that sponsored the $5 million event, but also from several other companies in attendance making their own announcements and huddling up with partners – from Microsoft to Google to Lenovo to Kaseya, just to name a few.

But the highlight was CEO Arnie Bellini’s keynote address where he promised a native Connectwise app for iPhone, enabling field workers to take the system with them on the road, as well as several platform updates, a subscription-based online training program to help partners with certifications, and a host of special offers and discounts.

Bellini promised the iPhone app would include opportunity downloads to help sales in the field as well as entire service boards.

"Connectwise Mobile has been completely rewritten and is now a native app on the iPhone," he said. "We’ve listened to your concerns. For those who tried it before, we got it right this time."

A demo version of the app is available for free from the App Store.

"We are making it so that a mobile device is something you can use to really run your business," Bellini said.

In 30 days Connectwise will debut its certifications offering – a library of more than 1,000 online training courses that will provide the education required to achieve certifications from companies and organizations such as Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, RedHat,  Sun, Adobe, Oracle and others.

"Tech certifications are something that’s a bigger problem for us," Bellini said. "Microsoft is enforcing its new Gold Partner standard requirements. How many of you have been now decertified as a Microsoft Gold Partner?"

Offering the training on a per user basis for $35 per month, Bellini said "We have crushed the pricing."

Other topics covered during the keynote included Connectwise’s open APIs, enabling any quoting software or RMM software to integrate with Connectwise. Bellini acknowledged the partnerships Connectwise has formed with Quosal and LabTech, but said that every other vendor in those categories has access to the very same APIs and can perform just as deep integrations.

"Whatever you are using we are innovating and creating a way for these things to work together," he said. "We needed to have control of a product roadmap to do this. That’s why we partnered with LabTech. But I don’t care if you use LabTech or not.

"Competition is good for the IT Nation," Bellini said. 

Other additions include:

  • Managed Print. "We are delivering it now. Managed print is not sexy, but it’s extremely lucrative." Managed print screens in Connectwise let MSPs see when devices are running low on toner or other supplies, letting MSPs anticipate supply needs and order and replace. It also automatically bills the client.
  • Human Resources Kit. Following on the success of the Modern Office Kit, Sales Kit and Help Desk Kit, this new part of Connectwise replicates what Bellini’s MSP has made available to its workers, including the template for an employee stock plan. "You can make your employees owners. We’ve given you the legal document."
  • Connectwise Chat. This enables chat for support issues and gives the technician the ability to remote in to customer desktops. "We are doing 45 percent of our tickets on chat now. Those tickets are closed in 24 hours, and the positive feedback is through the roof. Think of it as a managed service offering for the rest of your clients – a teaser to get them to come in and do business with you."
  • A Business Intelligence Council.  Connectwise’s IT Nation is looking for 50 partners to serve on the council and help the company perfect business intelligence reports that will be available in Connectwise. "We will create the most awesome set of reports possible."
  • Connectwise Consulting Services. Acknowledging all the features and functionality that many users don’t have time to figure out or explore, Connectwise will now offer consulting services to help set these things up for clients, starting with a business transformation audit.
  • New UI designed to fit on a tablet. In addition, Bellini said, Connectwise will bring everything back to the browser so MSPs can use them on any browser-enabled device.
  • Sync functionality for paid invoices between Quickbooks and Connectwise.
  • Exchange calendar sync. Appointments that are set up in Exchange will automatically and instantly come into Connectwise.  
  • Dragging and dropping of columns. You can put the columns where you want them and the platform will remember where you had them.
  • Automatic spell checker. "That’s something we got in this version, and we didn’t quite get it right. You can turn it on if you want."
  • Enabling bold and other text annotations on tickets
  • LDAP/Active Directory integration.
  • Ability to email multiple contacts when sending an invoice.
  • 24x7x365 support.
  • A marketplace where venture capitalists can search for MSP investments and where MSP buyers and sellers can look for prospects.

"What I’ve heard from a lot of you is I’m actually getting ready to sell this thing," Bellini said. "We are looking to create a meeting place for this.  We have so many venture capitalists that are doing rollups now…We think we can start creating a way for buyers and sellers to connect up. We haven’t figured it out yet, but we are going to do that for you."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com