I just got to spend three eventful days at IT Nation 2015 in Orlando, Florida. It’s one of the biggest events of the year, with more than 3,000 MSPs attending. It gave me a chance to listen to some thought-provoking keynote speakers and have plenty of interesting conversations with both partners and prospects.
This year, we hosted both a booth on the tradeshow floor, and the Intronis Recharge Lounge, a space where attendees could take a break, relax, and charge their phones tablets, and laptops. Tackling both kept me extra busy during the conference, but I think it was a great combination! It gave us a chance to talk to MSPs at the booth on Wednesday night and then have more in-depth conversations and answer follow-up questions when they stopped by the Recharge Lounge later in the week.
We brought a big team to IT Nation this year, including VP and General Manager of MSP Business Rick Faulk; Senior Director of Channel Development Neal Bradbury, Senior Director of Marketing Aaron Dun, Vice President of Partner Success Jasmine Lombardi, and Vice President of Sales Rob Merklinger. We were also joined by a sales rep from Barracuda who was able join conversations to answer any more in-depth questions MSPs had about Barracuda.
All in all, it was an eventful three days, but here are three highlights that stood out to me the most:
1. Bonding over a blast from the past
This year, we brought an Atari Flashback and set it up in the Recharge Lounge. This was the first time we brought one to a show, and it was a hit! We’ve brought a Wii to events in the past, but we definitely got more people stopping to play Atari. It was fun to see people recognize it! One MSP raved about the Atari, telling me it was awesome that we had it but that he’d forgotten how hard the games are!
My favorite thing about the Recharge Lounge was seeing partners who would just come to hang out for a while and watching them interact with prospects, telling them about their experiences with Intronis and playing some Atari games together, of course.
2. Learning from The Profit
Another highlight for me was the keynote by Marcus Lemonis, star of the CNBC show “The Profit.” I love the show and watch it every week, so it was interesting to hear him speak. It was a very different twist on a keynote, though, not at all what I’d expected based on his show.
Marcus said being vulnerable and being a person is what will make people want to partner with you, and it got really personal. He spent most of the keynote out in the audience talking to people, and he asked what people’s biggest fears are.
One MSP said his biggest fear is that his business will fail and he’ll let everybody down. Marcus asked who felt the same way, and quite a few people in the audience raised their hands to agree. Marcus said this showed the MSP wasn’t alone and that by opening up and sharing that way you see that you have each other.
Marcus put people on the spot, too, challenging people who thought they had their businesses all figured out and asking tough questions about what really matters to them and their business. It was a good opportunity to see things from a new perspective, and I think he reached the audience in a really different way.
3. MSP trends to watch
In his keynote address, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini talked about five important trends affecting MSPs. These stuck with me because they present some interesting opportunities for MSPs, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about them in 2016
- The increasing sophistication of SMBs. As SMBS grow and become more technically advanced, they are beginning to demand more enterprise-like services.
- The explosion of cloud computing. Cloud computing can be transformative, and the rate of SMBs moving to the cloud is expected to increase dramatically in the next few years.
- Internet of Things opportunity will become real for MSPs. It’s a confusing market for MSPs today, but the IoT will take on new life in the next few years as the number of sensors skyrockets.
- Widespread adoption of smartphones. The majority of adults use smartphones now, so MSPs are being pushed to support these devices more and more.
- Digital security takes center stage. With the popularity of cloud computing and the increasingly mobile workforce, MSPs will be forced to support complex work environments and take true ownership of all security concerns.
IT Nation is over until next year, but I’m on the road again this week for Local Lunches in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. While I was at IT Nation, I got questions from a number of partners about when we’d be coming to their area for a lunch. It was great to hear people excited about these events and looking for more! Keep an eye on our local lunch page to see where we’ll be headed next.
Photo Credits: Erin Shaw Crowley; Rick Faulk