Friday, July 03, 2009

Did ConnectWise Take Over HTG?

My friend Vlad is excellent at boiling down events to a few succinct syllables. Please read his blog post Here. His title is ConnectWise swallows up HTG.

This is based on the press release from my friend Arlin. See the Official Announcement. When I saw this, I called Arlin to chat.

I use Autotask (KPEnterprises uses Autotask). I am a member of HTG.

As Arlin and I agreed on the phone, this is all just business.

People make decisions. Companies try to figure out how to form coalitions and what's in their best interest.

My next SMB Conference Call guest will be Arnie Bellini from ConnectWise. We'll talk to him about this.

Please register for that and tune in.

But in the meantime, here are some personal thoughts on the topic. By no means are these my complete thoughts or my final thoughts. I haven't finished thinking about the ramifications.

If you're interested, I recommend you read the several posts Arlin did in introducing the "new" HTG over the last two weeks on the Peer Power Blog.

HTG used to focus on Best Practices, but found that not very many members acknowledged adopting other members' best practices. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Okay.

So the new focus will be on specific procedures that members can benefit from immediately. "Click here, enter this. Run that. Click click click." Doing this kind of deep dive on a specific process is easier with a single system (e.g., PSA) than to try to work with several different systems.

Regarding Best Practices

I came late to the HTG party for several reasons. One primary reason is that I travel a lot. I attend dozens of conferences. And I don't just stand in the hallways and chat with my friends (although I do a lot of that). But I also participate. I learn tons and tons of information.

AND I stand in the hallways and exchange ideas with great people. And I eat meals and exchange ideas with great people. And I go to the casinos and exchange ideas with great people. And I can sometimes be seen in the bars exchanging great ideas with great people.

Here's the deal with "Best Practices" for my business. I might never adopt someone else's best practice outright. But hearing it explained gives me an education and a new perspective on my business. I learn and improve, even if I don't adopt it wholesale.

Let me give another perspective as an author. My little book on Managed Services in a Month is not a general discussion. It is literally click-by-click how I would take your business and turn it into an MSP.

People read that book and then they come to me and explain what they've done. More often than not, they implement a scheme that's totally different from what I recommended. But they tell me, "Your book really helped me. I did what you said."

In other words, they took my advice, filtered it in light of their own business, their experience, and their vision of the future. What came out was not MY business (not my best practices), but a system that works better for them.

So when I hear that HTG members are not adopting each others' best practices, I don't see that as a problem.

Additional Thoughts:

First, this move seems like a major smart play on the part of ConnectWise. They have "created" a value-added benefit to their subscribers without having to actually create it. That's what partnering does. Every one's going to be using the same product and they'll exchange tips, tricks, and techniques that help them take it to the next level.

Second, this is good for HTG because they will be able to maintain new membership goals: I suspect the next fertile breeding ground for new HTG members will be the existing ConnectWise subscribers who are not yet in HTG.

Third, this change doesn't seem like good news for HTG. Yes it's easier to add value to a common product. But that's hardly a mission statement that will be compelling in the long run. Maybe I haven't drunk enough kool-aid, but the move toward technical competency on a PSA tool is not why people join HTG.

The strength of HTG for my company has been with the relationships that I have built. There are a few key people in HTG 13 that I rely on for advice. I can honestly say that the following have taken place with fellow HTG13 members in the last five business days: We email each other our proposed web sites, marketing campaigns, interview templates, etc. When I tally up my trusted advisors around the world (and I'm blessed to have trusted advisors around the world), a significant number are in HTG -- either my group or other groups.

A Maturing Community

As always, it helps to take a step back and look at the larger community. I consider SMB Nation 2006 to be a major turning point for our community -- defined roughly as everyone remotely connected to SBS/SMB consulting and aware that there's a community.

After that event, it was clear that the community was showing its first signs of cracking -- the first signs that universal agreement on everything wasn't going to last. I remember writing at the time that this was actually good. It represented a maturing of the community.

Over the next few years it was clear that "the community" needs SMB Nation to fill a primary role as the intro-level education into professional consulting. It has also plays the secondary role of being the major focal point for community in this space.

But other conferences sprang up. People competed with Harry for conference attendees. Various organizations have tried to create the one big watering hole, but there's just way too much diversity.

Vlad is probably correct that the year ahead of us will see consolidation as various organizations and companies merge, partner-up, and try to forge a future for themselves.

- - - - -

As we hear again and again, it's easier to find certain kinds of success within a specific vertical market. In other words, the more niche-oriented you are, the more value you can maintain.

So for now HTG's niche is going to be providing value to ConnectWise users.

That's certainly different from "The Community" or even their current demographic make-up.

I suspect the average member will ignore this change until it actually affects their quarterly meetings. After all, if you get together with great people and exchange great ideas for 2-3 days solid, you're going to get great value from that exercise.

I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

In the meantime, I'm checking out the Taylor Business Groups.

And remember: It's all just business.


Super Summer Sale
Half-Price and Free Books


  1. Hi Karl...glad to hear your comments. I too do not implement every best practice I hear. But, I do take bits and pieces like a buffet dinner. HTG is maturing and it is just business. Connectwise has something like a 90% adoption rate with HTG members and I know if our Canadian meeting I hear a lot of "This is how we do this in ConnectWise" or "Here is how we setup this in ConnectWise".

    Those who are not on ConnectWise are not seeing that level of interaction or value...maybe they are translating to Microsoft CRM or AutoTask...however being one who translates lots from American to Canadian...that gets tiresome.

    Stuart Crawford
    Bulletproof InfoTech

  2. The numbers are 80% adoption of CW by current members. So that means 20% Autotask, Tigerpaw, or others.

    That's either 44 or 45 companies who are members but are not using CW.


Feedback Welcome

Please note, however, that spam will be deleted, as will abusive posts.

Disagreements welcome!