Dedicated to the ConnectWise channel over the last eight years, Gregg Lalle has been instrumental in delivering the company’s business management platform to IT service providers in EMEA and APAC. PCR catches up with Gregg for a chat across the Ethernet about
So tell me a bit more about ConnectWise?
ConnectWise is a global IT software company that empowers Technology Solution Providers (TSPs) to achieve success in their As-a-Service business with intelligent software, expert services, an immersive IT community, called IT Nation and a vast ecosystem of integrations.
With an innovative, integrated, and security-centric platform, ConnectWise enables TSPs to drive business efficiency through business automation, IT documentation, and data management capabilities. The company has built a one-of-a-kind platform to help TSPs manage and monetise their business, for example increasing their revenue using our remote monitoring, security and backup disaster recovery technologies.
What is your role within the company and previous experience within the channel?
My role at ConnectWise involves managing sales and strategy plus looking after our partners’ pre- and post-sales experience in support of our regional directors in EMEA and APAC.
For the past six and a half years, my focus has very much been on international market development. I work very closely with peer groups, vendor partners and colleagues to plan and execute the pre- and post-sales strategy.
Previously, I ran the North America sales team for ConnectWise and helped build out two lines of the business model. The first enabled the sell-through-model, assisting resellers in selling to large internal IT enterprises and helping co-manage their IT. The second established a domestic distribution channel and strategy.
How have you been involved in delivering the company’s business management platform to IT service providers?
I oversee the people that deliver ConnectWise’s platform to IT service providers. I work closely with colleagues, directors and line managers to execute the sales and strategy as well as working with partners directly.
We offer our TSPs the option to join our IT Nation peer groups, which enables them to collaborate and communicate with their IT peers. We believe in supporting our TSPs with knowledge of not just the ConnectWise platform, but also business strategy, accountability and financial understanding. The best way to learn is by talking to and learning from those who have been in the same position previously and who know what it takes to go to the next stage.
We use events such as trade shows and our own IT Nation events to continue to build relationships with current and potential partners. Through the sales process, we help TSPs understand ConnectWise doesn’t just offer a solution, it provides business strategy and a vision on a great scale.
In your opinion what is the current state of business within the industry?
Every TSP, unless it’s a lifestyle business or they’re in exit mode, is looking for growth. They need to understand how to grow, but more importantly, there needs to be a sense of urgency to capture that opportunity.
Some haven’t yet understood and committed to the level of planning and strategy that it takes to grow a business. Tools are more sophisticated now, so it’s important they stay up-to-date and continually learn. Operational maturity has dramatically improved over the past few years and this is mainly due to TSPs being in business longer – they’re earning more, reading more and doing it organically on their own.
In recent years the private equity firms have started making a land grab in the MSP market, and this presents tremendous opportunity. What’s the attraction for private equity you might think? Simply put, worldwide IT spending is expected to increase 4% annually through 2022. By investing in an MSP business, it’s a great way for private equity firms to invest alongside this growth – without taking a direct technology risk – a win: win for both sides
Does the company have any development plans post Brexit and post pandemic?
Our aim this year is to focus on our partners more intently and connect at a macro level. To do this, we’ve hired additional resources around account management to allow a more intimate relationship and share that knowledge.
From a development standpoint, we’ve split the platform to make it easier for our partners, grouping our efficiency tools into three key areas: “Business Management Systems” (reporting tools, documentation tools), “Unified Management” (RMM, NOC, help desk, remote support and monitoring) and “Security Management” (common security and advanced security tools). This will help our account managers specialise and employ the right tools to meet the partners’ needs.
How can Channel partners look to move forward with a robust business model amidst these challenging times?
Many partners are doing well amidst the pandemic, because of the cost savings they’ve made over the past year and not necessarily due to top-line growth. However, they need to understand that cost containment can only last for a short time.
Moving forward, they’ll need to review their strategy, consider if they need external support and plan how they’re going to align for future growth. They must ensure that all colleagues within the organisation are aware of, and understand, the high-level goals.
Partners can do this by aligning the three Ts – Time, Treasure and Talent:
Time – Is it aligned with those high-level goals?
Treasure – Are they spending money to support the initiatives that are aligned with those goals?
Talent – Do they have the talent or do they need to upskill to execute on those goals? For example, an increasing number of partners want to provide advanced cybersecurity to their customers, but they don’t have the skills in house. This means they could either hire an expert or partner with an expert who outsources it and runs it for them.
By aligning the three Ts, partners can ensure they remain true to their overarching goals.
Where are you seeing or anticipate growth markets and opportunities within the channel?
We’re committed to helping our partners not only spot new market opportunities, we work alongside them, educating them on how to be strategic advisers to their customers. This gives them the best possible chance to capitalise on that market opportunity. Cybersecurity is a great example.
Remote workers are here in a more permanent way. When the pandemic struck, and stay at home orders came into force, large numbers of our partners responded to their customers’ connectivity needs pretty much overnight. Many turned to free tools initially. This provided the much-needed connectivity quickly – but it wasn’t always in the most efficient, or effective way. This included tools such as unified communications, remote control support and security. Now that things are more settled – even though we’re still in the midst of the pandemic – the growth opportunity for partners will be to ensure they revisit these early connectivity deployments, and ensure these tools are effective, efficient and super secure.
It’s no secret that cyberattacks are increasing and the price tag is higher each year. Customers are worried about their security posture. The opportunity here is for our partners to offer a cybersecurity solution that solves their customers’ problems. According to research from Vanson Bourne, 91% of small to medium businesses would consider switching to a new IT service provider if it offered the right cybersecurity solution.
How is current business on an international scale?
Our business remains robust. When it comes to digital transformation, plans that would have taken 10 years to roll out prior to the pandemic, took place in less than 12 months. For example, moving applications to the cloud and securing remote workers.
But technological change and innovation waits for no man and there continues to be a pipeline of new technology for partners to further extend their offerings. IoT is a great example. That said, it’s important that partners don’t start chasing every shiny new object that they read about. They need to understand where to put their time, treasure and talent – and if it fits into their plans. There is no get-rich-quick scheme. But aligning your three Ts will give partners the growth they want, and aligning with vendors who will align to their strategy to deliver the product and service support that will help them get there.