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SpiceWorld 2017: New Learn Training, Inventory 8.0

The warmest welcome from the keynote crowd was for the new Spiceworks Learn crowdsourced educational environment.

Lorna Garey

October 10, 2017

4 Min Read
Spiceworks SpiceWorld

(pictured above: Spiceworks CEO Jay Hallberg on stage at SpiceWorld in Austin, Texas, Oct. 10.)

SPICEWORKS SPICEWORLD — Tuesday at SpiceWorld 2017, Spiceworks executives took a look back at the company’s first 10 years and laid out for attendees the next steps for the online IT community and management tools provider.

“SpiceWorld is really about you,” Spiceworks CEO Jay Hallberg told the crowd of about 2,000. “About a half-million people come to Spiceworks every day to get their jobs done.”

More stats: Spiceworks has 7 million unique visitors per month, and its content shows up in 2 billion search results annually. Last year, with its free tools, there were 13 million devices inventoried and 70 million help-desk tickets managed. Its community overlaps channel verticals, with enterprises as well as educational institutions such as the University of Texas and Brigham Young University, and nonprofits including the Girl Scouts. Event sponsors are a who’s who of channel stalwarts, from AT&T and Cisco to CompTIA, Sophos and Lenovo.

Tech vendors are also looking to get access to the Spiceworks community — in the last year, 500 tech brands created 10,000 resources.

About 15 percent of the Spiceworks community is IT service providers, and the company maintains a partner directory accessible to the community. The company’s revenue comes solely from ads and marketing services. Your customers are likely using the site to research purchases. Sanjay Castelino, VP of marketing, says Spiceworks sees 1.2 million visits to its product-review pages annually. To make that research more efficient, the company announced a new cataloging feature and a cleaner user interface for product pages as well as a comparison feature for popular categories.

The site will also use a new decision engine to surface the most relevant native content.

Castelino says the company is working on a new set of paid services, including peer referrals, premium support, product trials and project assist. The first service, still in development, will center around using crowdsourced data to help members find products.

He says the service is meant to offer the benefits of Gartner or other premium analyst services at a low cost.

“We want to bring this to folks for hundreds of dollars a year, not thousands,” he said. The company also previewed an updated remote-access tool, with no VPN needed, that supports an unlimited number of sessions and workstations. The new Remote Support offering is powered by Zoho Assist and is available now.

Interestingly, CEO Hallberg profiled a small IT service provider from Norway to illustrate the localization initiative meant to connect community members and help service providers expand their practices and connect with local vendors.

The warmest welcome from the keynote crowd was for the new Spiceworks Learn crowdsourced educational environment that provides how-tos, articles, webinars and videos across a variety of tech topics. It includes elements of gamification, such as the ability to earn badges, and will initially focus on …

… four topical areas: networking, cloud, virtualization and backup and recovery.

Over time, says Nicole Tanzillo, executive director of product operations, Spiceworks Learn will become personalized for users by understanding the topics they’re most interested in and recommending additional resources based on knowledge level, business and experience.The company says its research shows IT professionals spend an average of 6.5 hours per week learning new skills and technologies, with that time broken up into 30-40 minute chunks.

What’s In It for the Channel?

Besides software for managing networks at multiple client sites – the suite includes help-desk ticketing, inventory and reporting, billing, and membership in the directory – Spiceworks will apply machine learning to personalize its management tools, which should help providers better sell to and serve customers.

Announced today in beta 2, the company’s Inventory 8.0 tool changes the preferred method for scanning to be agent-based for more accurate inventory data. Other new features include a more accurate vision of inventory; consistent deep workstation scanning across Windows, MacOS and Linux; and more accurate detection of cloud services and suspicious IP addresses that are “talking” with workstations.

MSPs are mixed on the suitability of the company’s free software to manage customer assets; the suite competes with PSA tools from ConnectWise, Kaseya, Solar Winds and others. Upfront software costs are only part of the equation — partners must also take into account customization and knowledge base, business-process adoption and training. However, for the channel overall, Spiceworks’ large community of IT pros offers deep insights into customer environments.

For example, a recent analysis of anonymized deployment data comprising hundreds of thousands of IT professionals across the globe who use Spiceworks software to inventory their organizations’ laptops, desktops, servers, and other network devices found that, two years after Microsoft released Windows 10, it’s still lagging behind Windows 2007, 84 percent to 60 percent. Despite the security risk of sunsetted OSes, Windows XP is still in use by 42 percent.

The community also offers Yelp-like product reviews, including of UC, VoIP and trunking providers. If you’ve ever wondered what customers really think of ShoreTel vs. Avaya vs. Mitel, here’s your answer.

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