Citing statistics that predict the world population (currently at 7.7 billion) leveling off at around 11 billion by 2100, ConnectWise president Arnie Bellini called on the IT channel to play a lead role in the global challenges associated with overpopulation at his annual IT Nation Connect conference in Orlando last week.
That’s a big, bold ask from the main stage in a packed room of some 3,600 IT service providers and channel vendors. But Bellini crystallized his point by elaborating on the role technology is playing to solve the world’s most vexing problems, notably efficient and accessible healthcare, food production and world hunger, cyber security, and education disparities.
“The IT Nation is about creating a better future via technology,” Bellini said, likening the world’s tech infrastructure and the people who build it to a huge, global construction project. These were inspiring words to an audience tasked with the often mundane and repetitive motions of IT service provision and client management.
In a later meeting, when asked to elaborate on Bellini’s analogy, ConnectWise Chief Product Officer Craig Fulton reminded me that there’s also good money in saving the world. The managed services community, he said, have been the laborers responsible for standardizing, building, and maintaining that global infrastructure construction project on common server and network technology. This never-ending project continues, he told me, but the opportunity before the managed services industry today entails much more than the foundation and framework, “The Internet of Things has brought myriad devices—copiers, printers, security cameras, panels, controls, and so much more—online,” he said. “IT consumers don’t know how to manage all these, much less secure them. That’s a new universe of technology that IT service providers can not only bring under management and capitalize on, but also help their clients leverage to significant social effect.”
Fulton is quick to point out that as-a-service, subscription-based delivery of these solutions has become the client expectation. “Much of what we buy today, whether in our personal or business lives, begins with the question, how much can you afford per month? Phones, cars, mortgages, electric bills, professional services—increasingly, that’s how clients are conditioned to buy.” Fulton also cautions that the everything-as-a-service trend demands a different skill set from IT service providers, because the tech they’re selling and servicing isn’t as “weedy” as it used to be. New techs are not obsessed with understanding every teeny, tiny detail, he said. “It’s next… next… next… done, as opposed to understanding the features and functions. So, here’s a practical step; get some real customer service training,” advises Fulton. “Today, IT service providers are working more with people than with technology,” he said. “Invest in FranklinCovey or Dale Carnegie or a customer service program at your local college. That’s the stuff that companies that are doing well are focused on.”
Marc Andreesen’s famous 2011 observation that “software is eating the world” doesn’t seem lost on ConnectWise. Perhaps ironically, it will take people-oriented IT services pros to save it. If you missed IT Nation Connect in Orlando November 7-9, head back there June 13-15, 2019 for IT Nation Explore. In the meantime, stay tuned for stories from some of the world-changing MSPs I met last week in Orlando.