Oct 10 2017

SpiceWorld 2017: IT Pros Get Personalized, Intelligent Tools to Boost Tech Knowledge

IT staff members often face hurdles to get the resources and know-how they need, but Spiceworks says it’s offering tools to help.

IT professionals who are strapped for time and juggling multiple projects at once often don’t have access to all of the resources and knowledge they need to be successful at their jobs. Spiceworks, the online community for IT pros, aims to give them a leg up.

On Tuesday, at the SpiceWorld 2017 conference in Austin, Texas, the company unveiled new solutions that are designed to be more personalized and intelligent, building on tools it announced at the conference last year. Spiceworks wants to help IT pros more efficiently access tech resources, build their skills, research and buy technology, and manage their IT environments.

The tools will help a growing community, as the company announced it attracts nearly 7 million unique visitors every month, up 48 percent year over year. And, as Spiceworks executives noted during the opening keynote, the tools come at a time when IT pros have to manage more technology than ever. Further, the tech landscape is rapidly changing, as the Internet of Things takes off and the cloud market evolves.

“IT is too complex a job for anyone to do on their own,” Spiceworks CEO Jay Hallberg said during the keynote. “So, let’s tap those connections and make it just a little bit easier.”

IT workers often have to manually search for the resources they need to get their jobs done successfully and do not have any personalized experiences that are relevant to their particular roles, Spiceworks argues. That leads to a lot of wasted time and energy for IT pros.

To counter that, Spiceworks unveiled a platform that leverages machine learning and advanced data analytics “to tailor the people, content, and tools that get surfaced to IT professionals in any given moment,” according to a Spiceworks statement. The platform analyzes and processes billions of actions each week to better understand what users want, anticipate their needs and then give them the resources necessary to solve their specific IT challenges.  

“Ultimately, we’re thinking about how to create a simpler, a smarter and a more connected experience for you every day,” Nicole Tanzillo, executive director of product operations at Spiceworks, said during the keynote.

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Access a Crowdsourced IT Knowledge Base

Spiceworks wants to help IT pros by leveraging the power of its community. To that end, the company unveiled a new crowdsourced, educational environment called Spiceworks Learn.

Spiceworks Learn gives IT pros access to free, instructional content in the form of how-to tutorials, articles, webinars and videos across a variety of tech topics, including cloud, virtualization, networking, and storage and backup.

According to research Spiceworks conducted, IT pros spend an average of 6.5 hours per week learning new IT skills and technologies. However, due to their other job responsibilities, they can only dedicate 30 to 40 minutes at a time to learning. Therefore, they need access to training materials that are both concise and easily accessible, the company argues.

The short-form instructional content within Spiceworks Learn lets IT pros quickly learn a new skill or technology, track their progress through each topic and earn badges along the way. The content, grouped by topic and advancement level, is created by the Spiceworks community of IT experts, who have on-the-ground experience and insights on how to implement, manage and optimize IT operations.

Addressing IT pros at the conference, Tanzillo said Spiceworks wants to help connect them with “the people, the products and information you need to do your jobs every day.” The goal is to help answer technology questions that are both esoteric and tactical, she said.

Spiceworks argues that the crowdsourced approach enables greater scalability, provides IT pros with a variety of perspectives, and helps maintain fresh content that’s aligned with the current state of tech and best practices.

Additionally, over time, Spiceworks Learn will become more intelligent and personalized to IT pros’ needs by understanding the topics that most interest them and recommending additional resources based on their knowledge level, needs and experience.

A Range of New IT Management Tools

Spiceworks also unveiled a suite of new IT management tools to help IT pros discover the technologies in their environment, quickly understand the details and status of their devices and support end users.

Spiceworks plans to apply new personalization capabilities for these tools, meaning IT pros can expect them to become more intelligent about people, content and other IT tools based on real-time events in their IT environments.  

The company also announced the new Spiceworks Remote Support tool, powered by Zoho Assist, to make it easier to address the IT issues end users experience. Unlike other remote support tools, it is free to connect to end-user workstations over the internet and there are no limits on the number of sessions, technicians or workstations that the tool can be used for.

Additionally, Spiceworks announced a new tool to help IT pros manage their on-premises IT environments called Inventory 8.0. The tool combines Spiceworks’ IP scanner tool with an agent that can run on Microsoftt’s Windows, Apple’s macOS or in Linux environments.

The agent better detects changes on a company’s network and shows a more accurate vision of the company’s IT inventory, Spiceworks says. It supports consistent, deep workstation scanning across the different operating systems. Additionally, it provides more accurate detection of cloud services and suspicious IP addresses. Inventory 8.0 is currently in beta.  

Phil Goldstein

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