AI-Based Solutions for IT Pros Is the Focus at SpiceWorld 2019

Spiceworks held its SpiceWorld 2019 community event in Austin, Texas this week. The company announced several new developments at the show, including the release of its 2020 State of IT report. Gleaned from a year's worth of market research submitted from its community of roughly six million IT professionals and approximately 3,000 vendors, the report puts security at the top of IT pros' priorities next year, as expected. But, surprisingly, it also adds that hardware purchasing will increase in importance, especially for smaller businesses, many of whom will be suffering from aging infrastructure by then. Spiceworks releases a series of such reports annually, having just published its Future of Network and Endpoint Security report just a few weeks ago, which is freely available for download by community members.

The company also unveiled a new service called Account Intelligence. This new solution applies artificial intelligence (AI) technology to the problem of companies seeking the best possible leads in the technology marketing to IT buyers. Spiceworks promises Account Intelligence will help because it applies AI across all of the activities its IT pro members engage in on its member site. This means it has a much better chance of identifying not just individual leads but entire organizations that are actually in-market for a purchase, rather than simply an individual lead who may or may not be about to buy. According to Spiceworks, this will let the new Account Intelligence service help technology companies increase sales and conversions, and deliver higher overall success rates for account-based marketing (ABM).

The show also held announcements for the IT pro side of Spiceworks' business. Spiceworks services its six million-member group with a large assortment of knowledge, learning, and community resources as well as 15 free tools that can be broken down into three categories: IT management, network monitoring, and security. While the company did make an announcement regarding its help desk tool at the show (see below), the main announcement was a variation on what it announced for its vendor community. In the IT pro instance, there's no single product or service name; instead, Spiceworks simply touted how it's applying AI to all of the key aspects of an IT pro's life.

For example, the company touted its ability to use AI to provide new business insights to those members using its help desk tools because the new AI tech could surface not only that an individual help desk was getting an inordinately high number of service requests in a particular area but that it could also compare that rate for similarly sized companies to see how much higher the rate was than an established norm and perhaps what the root cause might be. An especially attractive option was the proposed market insights capability. This is where an IT pro can use Spiceworks to search for a solution provider, technology vendor, or consultant expertise to solve a particular need.

With its new AI capability, Spiceworks claims the service mine its community data to map up to 50,000 solution vendors across various criteria. Spiceworks will surface that data in individual product pages allowing buyers to quickly built maps of potential purchase targets and stay current on how that particular market might be shifting. All with an eye towards allowing its members to not only stay current on technology but be able to find the right solution to even very specific problems as quickly as possible. Spiceworks says it's still working on mapping some of these categories but expects to have everything running at full capacity by mid- to late October.

On the IT tools front, Spiceworks announced a development for its cloud help desk service that was unveiled last year. Ironically, that announcement was the ability to install its code on-premises. Spiceworks says that it received a large number of community requests for this capability due mainly to people concerned with either cloud security issues or those needing better performance from high-volume help desk ticket environments. In response, Spiceworks just announced that its members can download its help desk solution, install it on their own servers and thereby see up to a 20x improvement over the cloud service in certain scenarios.

Other Spiceworks IT tools include an IT inventory manager, and also a Connectivity Dashboard that allows IT pros to monitor traffic paths between most any endpoint, including devices, sites, or apps and services. There's also a contract management tool, as well as other purpose-built tools for tasks like calculating IP subnets as well as performing remote support. On the security side, available tools are also on the task-oriented side rather than being suites, and include capabilities like IP blacklisting, an IP port scanner, and an SSL checker.

Editors' Note: J2 Global, the company that owns Spiceworks, also owns Ziff Davis, PCMag's publisher.

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