IT Nation Connect 2018 recap

| By:
Arnie Bellini

With another IT Nation Connect under our belts, I continue to be amazed at how our partners, vendors, and colleagues gather to connect and share knowledge, making The IT Nation the most powerful community of IT professionals. Even though it’s only three days, we fill the event with keynotes, breakout sessions, networking, and, yes, a few parties.

This was a great year for IT Nation Connect. We had 3,600 attendees join us in Orlando to experience the biggest IT Nation Connect to date. Our attendees were able to take part in our effort to give the event back to them as we centered IT Nation Connect around business growth and success.

In order to provide our partners with the best insight for how to grow their business and offer new services to clients, this year’s IT Nation Connect sessions offered more thought leadership and business advice. We had a lot of discussions about security this year, as well as mergers and acquisitions, sales and marketing, talent acquisition and retention, and scalability and growth. You told us what you wanted to learn at IT Nation Connect and we wanted to provide that to you.

Pitch IT

We kicked off IT Nation Connect on Wednesday with our very first Pitch IT. Pitch IT was the chance for three ConnectWise partners to present their business expansion idea—live on stage—to a panel of judges for a chance to win up to $100,000 to turn their idea into a reality.

We want to congratulate Michael Fraser, whose winning pitch was for a cloud and security blueprint marketplace, designed to make it easier for businesses to get into cloud services.

Second place, and recipient of up to $50,000, went to Peter Allen and Brian Roets of SMP. Their pitch was for a digital worker designed to automate CRM activities by analyzing alerts and taking proactive troubleshooting actions on behalf of the human user. Third place, and winner of up to $25,000, went to James Bender of MCA who pitched a solution stack that makes IT solutions as-a-service for health care providers.


This year’s IT Nation Connect theme was Connect Everything. What better way to highlight how technology truly connects us all than to have the inventor of the World Wide Web himself, Sir Tim Berners-Lee? During his keynote on Thursday morning, he talked about his progression from turning his idea of a connected network, who a peer called ‘vague but exciting,’ into one of the single most transformative innovations in human history.

With technology giving us the ability to connect everything, The IT Nation needs to come together to keep it secure. I took the stage on Thursday to talk to our attendees about their role in the ongoing battle to fight cybercrime. I introduced our new protect your house campaign designed to give you the tools and resources—including the Sienna Remote Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Tool and Perch’s cyber defense platform—you need to protect your business and your clients.

Craig Fulton and I also discussed the change of business to as-a-service, the massive opportunity this presents to our partners, and improvements to the ConnectWise platform and Marketplace to further help our partners.

Arlin Sorensen explored business maturity and where it fits in our partners’ growth strategy. We know that transitioning your business, adding new service offerings, or developing a strategy can be difficult. That’s why we were excited to announce our newest Path to Success webinar series for as-a-service, security, and business maturity. Registration for these webinars can be found at

Torch Talk

On Friday morning, we had our first ever Torch Talk, a panel discussion featuring industry insiders and influencers. The panel was moderated by Joe Panettieri of ChannelE2E and MSSP Alert, with a panel featuring myself, Amy Kardel of Clever Ducks, Eric Foster of Fishtech, and Lloyd Wolf of Wolf Consulting. Torch Talk was a perfect companion to my keynote, as we continued the discussion about security and the moral obligation we all have to keep our clients secure.

During our talk, we highlighted the need to provide security services and the challenges associated with it—the top being the talent gap. Many of our partners know the difficulty of not only finding qualified techs, but keeping them. Our panelists also talked about the importance of nurturing your employees and providing the tools to help them grow their abilities.

Path to Success

On Friday afternoon, Paul Dippell and I hosted the third installment of our mergers and acquisitions Path to Success webinar series, focusing on post-acquisition integration. Our live taping allowed us to answer common questions and concerns our attendees had about the challenges of M&A, from a Buyer’s and Seller’s perspective.

Integration occurs before the final deal is signed, and it’s the most common pitfall in a lot of mergers and acquisitions. During this session, we talked about the importance of communication, what makes an MSP integration harder or easier, and more.

This installment, along with parts one and two, can be found in ConnectWise University.

IT Nation Gives

An increasingly popular and fulfilling part of IT Nation Connect is our IT Nation Gives charity events. Every year, members of The IT Nation go out to an organization in Orlando, FL to spend a day giving back to the community. This year, IT Nation Gives helped Orlando Day Nursery, a child care center committed to providing high-quality educational programs to help children achieve future educational success.

Along with our on-site program, attendees also participated in meal kit preparation for Meals of Hope in the IT Nation Gives Zone outside of the Solutions Pavilion. By Thursday afternoon, we reached our goal of 10,000 meals for families to enjoy this holiday season. We’re so proud of The IT Nation and their commitment to making the world a better place—on and offline.

SeaWorld and Walk the Moon

At IT Nation Connect, we work hard, but we also play hard. This year The IT Nation took over SeaWorld in Orlando. Everyone had a blast riding rides, spending time with friends new and old, and having some quality time with the animal residents. Later in the night, Walk the Moon rocked SeaWorld with an exclusive concert for our attendees.

As we reflect on another successful event, we pass the torch to you, our partners. This is your Nation. Thanks for making IT Nation Connect 2018 our best event yet! Now, let’s go make 2019 even better.