Spiceworks thinks it has the answer. The Austin-based company, which maintains a professional network millions of IT professionals that simplifies the discovery, management and purchasing of more than $600 billion in technology products and services each year, used its annual user conference last week to announce Spiceworks IT Concierge Service.
The wide-ranging Concierge Service will assist in everything from troubleshooting problems, contacting vendors or providing research on new products and services. Best of all, just like Spicework's core systems inventory application, Concierge Service is free—and always will be, according to company executives.
“Nobody does this end-to-end,”said Scott Abel, Spiceworks Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer. “We're alone in the market.”
Abel said the service could have all kinds of indirect benefits, from providing additional metrics about products and services to luring new partners into the Spiceworks ecosystem.
"Many IT departments are resource constrained and may lack the technical expertise, time, or manpower they need to manage new and ongoing IT projects," Jay Hallberg, Spiceworks' co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.
Hallberg and other Spiceworks executives in Austin were asked how the help service will scale, and if there were worries the free offering might become too popular, swamping the so-called "SpiceAgents" in the process. But company executives pointed out that the agents will in many cases broker inquiries to existing solutions within the Spiceworks forums, or make introductions to the appropriate experts at local and national technology brands, resellers, and service providers.
Spiceworks already thoroughly IDs, vets and on-boards vendor personnel in its user forums. “We know who they are,” said Tabrez Syed, Spiceworks’ Vice President of Community Products.
Moreover, the community itself will be vital for reporting on which companies within the Spiceworks partner ecosystem are helpful and which aren’t, Hallberg said. “We encourage people to post their experiences with us and the partners,” he said. “It keeps us honest.”
To promulgate the new program, Spiceworks last week introduced a partner program, designed for both small and large technology service providers, resellers, integrators, and OEMs. Technology companies and service providers such as Rackspace, Box, Equinix, Okta, CenturyLink, GHA Technologies, Cumulus Global, Texas Systems Group, Technology Business Solutions, and many others have joined the program, the company said.
Leveraging AnalysisOne intriguing possibility mentioned by Hallberg and other Spiceworks executives is that the company would be ramping up the use data analytics from its community, which makes more than 100,000 comments monthly, to detect trends and anticipate where the next support issues might arise.
That analysis will likely include deeper sentiment analysis and surveys. Spiceworks already publishes an annual survey, State of IT. This year's survey is due out shortly. (Watch for our follow-up coverage.)
The company is already experimenting with a Hadoop cluster to explore this data trove, and pump out analytic insights for its OEM partners, based on anonymous statistics from the quarter-billion devices managed under Spiceworks.
Spiceworks IT Concierge Service, which is primarily focused on the American marketplace, is available today. IT professionals interested in using the service can do so by visiting www.spiceworks.com/atyourservice.