IT Nation is a Wrap #ITN17

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This morning I flew home from IT Nation in Orlando.  I’m exhausted and energized, all at the same time.  IT Nation started as the ConnectWise Partner Conference, a gathering of ConnectWise software partners.  Over the years it has evolved into IT Nation, a gathering of the IT industry, specifically companies like Onepath, the organization I work for, along with the vendors and partners that make up the ecosystem that is the IT Nation.  The event is sponsored by ConnectWise and still has a lot to do with ConnectWise products, which today extend well beyond the core business management software that was the original core of the company.

This year, there were over 3,000 attendees and over 200 educational sessions that ran the gamut from how to use ConnectWise software to improve various business practices, to business education around hiring, team building and more, like M&A valuations and expert panels.

The keynote on the first day was delivered by ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini.  I’ve known Arnie since the earliest days of ConnectWise marketing their software.  I got my first demo from Arnie in the early 2000’s.  He and ConnectWise have grown and matured impressively over the years.  The solution is very robust, with a growing ecosystem of integration partners that makes it easier to run our day to day operations and reach out strategic goals.  Even though I’ve attended all but one IT Nation, since it’s founding back in 2004, I learned a lot this year and have some key action items to bring back to my team.  Four of us from Onepath attended IT Nation this year and we divided and conquered, in terms of the breakouts we attended.

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The keynote on the second day was delivered by my absolute favorite business author, Patrick Lencioni.  He has released a new book called “The Ideal Team Player” and the theme of this years IT Nation event was TEAM, Trust, Empathy, Agility, Modesty.

I absolutely love Patrick Lencioni’s writing.  He writes business fables that are fiction, which makes them both easy and engaging to read.  I’ve read almost all of his books and many years ago, I even bought a copy of his books “Getting Naked” for everyone in my company at the time.  It was and remains transformational.  I’m already digging in to “The Ideal Team Player” and hope to finish it over the next couple of days.  In addition to the expected fable, the book also has concluding section that is quite prescriptive.  I was also thrilled to have the opportunity to spend some time with Patrick and Arnie in a small group setting after his keynote.  Thanks for that opportunity ConnectWise!  It was a LencioniBookbucket list moment.  And thanks to my fellow Onepath teammate Sean, for having Patrick autograph a copy of his book for me, while I was attending the ConnectWise Advisory Council lunch at the same time as the book signing.  It has a special place in my home office waiting for it.

During this years event, ConnectWise introduced what it calls the “Technology Canvas.”  This really resonates with me and its relevance transcended the entire event.  The Technology Canvas just makes sense and in Onepath terms, it accurately represents our Cable to Cloud strategy.  There are fourteen elements of the Technology Canvas; Copy/Printing, Line of Business Applications, Security, Office Applications, Physical Security, Network Infrastructure, Internet of Things, Onsite Computing, Audio/Visual, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Application Development, Disaster Recovery and Business Intelligence.  This “canvas” represents all the areas a company like Onepath helps our clients with, as well as other services.  In the managed IT services space, this is an excellent framework.  As I said, it resonates for me.

technology-canvas.pngIn addition to the keynote and breakout sessions, there is always excellent networking at an event like this.  With this many attendees, the opportunities to connect with colleagues and friends are plenty, as is the sharing of best practices and lessons learned.  Some years, this is where I may extract the best value from the event.  Many breakouts are delivered by peers as opposed to ConnectWise staff, so you get real-world experience and ideas.  Some of the best business building ideas come from networking with peers and staying in touch throughout the year.

It would not be an event hosted by ConnectWise without some fun.  ConnectWise embodies the work hard, play hard philosophy, so we enjoyed a night at Universal Studios as well.

It’s an impressive accomplishment to maintain impact and relevance for an event like this over the last 13 years.  My thanks to ConnectWise for continuing to innovate and raise the bar, year after year.  The Community that has been built around this industry and this company is truly inspirational and the best may yet be to come.

Next comes the real hard work.  It’s too easy to return from an event like this and fall back into an office routine.  The real call to action from an event like this, is not to let that happen.  Myself, I will be reviewing and rewriting my notes from each day and sharing them with key members of our leadership team.  Next, I will be extracting some key points of information to share with my direct reports, as I have some ideas I want their input on, to help refine our messaging and processes even more.  My goal is to have three clear action items to implement over the next 90 days, to close 2017 strong and start 2018 even stronger.  Until next year, thanks IT Nation! #ITN17 out.

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