Last month, I attended the ConnectWise IT Nation Connect conference in Orlando, Florida. If you are looking for an event that appeals to a key, albeit niche audience, within the office technology dealer channel, this is it.
The content is aimed at managed service providers (MSPs), and unless you are a member of that select group, most breakout sessions and presentations might be a challenge. That’s what I discovered, and I say that without embarrassment. As a journalist who has been covering the office technology industry for nearly 37 years, some aspects of the industry are more difficult to comprehend than others. I am not the target audience for IT Nation Connect, and that’s okay. My goal when attending events such as this is to walk away with a big-picture perspective, find new sources for our managed IT coverage, and new angles to pursue in future articles. I did that at IT Nation Connect.
A Really Big Show
Unlike most dealer meetings attended by The Cannata Report, IT Nation Connect makes those conferences look tiny in comparison. This year’s event had more than 4,000 attendees, with another 1,500 or so attending remotely. The ballroom where the General Sessions were held was cavernous.
In addition to the General Session presentations, mostly centered on enhancements and new ConnectWise product introductions, there was a diner menu of breakout sessions. The sessions were broken down into five tracks: Business Operations & Strategy, Cybersecurity Operations & Sales, Employee Development & Retention, Customer Acquisition & Retention, and ConnectWise product education. There was also a Solutions Pavilion with dozens of ConnectWise partners who paid $50,000 and upwards to showcase their products and services.
The Dawn of Hyperautomation
My biggest takeaway from this year’s IT Nation Connect was ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee’s Wednesday evening keynote where he spoke at length about hyperautomation. It was a term I was unfamiliar with until Magee’s keynote. Now, I’m obsessed with it.
After returning from the conference, I googled hyperautomation. Here’s how the market research firm Gartner defines it:
Hyperautomation is a business-driven, disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Hyperautomation involves the orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools, or platforms, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, event-driven software architecture, robotic process automation (RPA), business process management (BPM) and intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS), integration platform as a service (iPaaS), low-code/no-code tools, packaged software, and other types of decision, process, and task automation tools.
Magee focused on hyperautomation as it applies to MSPs and their customers, and ConnectWise’s new products. Since this article is about IT Nation Connect, let’s stick to the MSP angle for now because hyperautomation extends beyond the IT world.
“We are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, one that is highly anticipated and set to be the most disruptive, and hyperautomation is leading the way,” said Magee. “Hyperautomation is a concept that is far more powerful than the name suggests. It is not simply automation, robotics, or AI replacing repetitive tasks to gain efficiency. It is the orchestration and application of AI, robotics, and machine learning that make it so impactful. It is here and now.”
Magee then posed three questions that MSPs may be asking themselves about hyperautomation:
- What does this mean for my business over the next several years?
- What does it mean for me?
- What is the potential and real impact it will have on my business or bottom line?
His response to those three questions was, “With hyperautomation, the roles of human intelligence and artificial intelligence will become symbiotic, and it will deliver an immediate impact even at a baseline level. For MSPs that embrace it, it can mean improvements to your bottom line. For MSP employees it can mean new career opportunities and a boost in compensation.”
The chart below offers examples of hyperautomation use cases for MSPs.
Hyperautomation is not limited to the managed IT world. It will impact the office technology space as well. Read my interview with Konica Minolta President & CEO Sam Errigo in the November issue where he discusses various internal and external strategic initiatives that Konica Minolta is embarking on–many prime examples of hyperautomation.
New Products Introduced at IT Nation Connect
ConnectWise introduced several new products and enhancements to its Asio Platform-as-a-service solution at the conference. The foundation behind these new products and enhancements is–not surprisingly–hyperautomation.
One enhancement was the addition of robotic process automation (RPA) to the Asio Platform-as-a-Service solution. The Asio platform consolidates multiple products and offers a centralized dataset that allows TSPs to reduce labor costs. According to ConnectWise, with the addition of ConnectWise RPA, TSPs can reduce labor costs by enabling teams to automate more repetitive, time-consuming processes. The company said that the ability to automate process flows between products and remove manual, repetitive tasks using prebuilt bots is pivotal to enabling team efficiency and driving customer satisfaction.
The evolution of ConnectWise’s remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution to Unified Monitoring & Management was another key announcement at the conference. This adds capabilities to the ConnectWise Asio platform, including support for network, cloud, and backup monitoring.
ConnectWise also announced that ConnectWise Sidekick is now available across its Business Management and Unified Monitoring & Management solution portfolios. ConnectWise describes Sidekick as a purpose-built tool for the IT channel that enhances business efficiency through hyperautomation and AI. It automates triage, summarization, and resolution suggestions, resulting in faster service ticket resolution times and consistent exceptional customer experiences. It further automates tasks such as generating PowerShell scripts, ticket categorization, summarization, providing resolutions, and automated responses to end users. The bot centralizes information access within Microsoft Teams and facilitates streamlined team updates. AI is utilized across sales modules, finance modules, agreements and invoicing, project management modules, and time management modules to drive efficiency and resource optimization. The goal of this solution is to make every organizational role more efficient, from technicians to service managers, sales and marketing, and owners.
The Sum of Its Parts
If your dealership offers managed IT services, team members involved in that segment of the business will greatly benefit from attending IT Nation Connect. With cybersecurity being so important and new advances in AI and robotic process automation a part of more IT-related conversations, you won’t find a better conference to gain an understanding of these and other emerging trends.