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March 28, 2011

Spiceworks IT Support Tools and Community: Free Works for Google, Facebook and Us

At the recently-concluded ITEXPO (News - Alert) 2011 East in Miami, TMC’s Erik Linask had an opportunity to interview Spiceworks’ (News - Alert) IT Marketing Manager, Nicole Tanzillo.

The company is based in Austin, and was founded with the idea of looking for a way to help IT pros do their jobs better, Tanzillo said, adding that the focus was “those guys, maybe there’s one or two of them in a small business, they’re isolated,” but they’re the ones who have to handle all the IT issues for the business – the printers, e-mail questions, the server, networking, everything.

Traditionally those guys don’t have a whole lot of support in their job, as Tanzillo said, and had to use different tools. So Spiceworks created a single application to help them “do everything IT.”

It covers many of the common IT functions, such as network management, inventory, help desk and ticketing, and probably most importantly, “a discussion forum, where this organic thing happened, users could get together and share best practices in a way they couldn’t before.”

That part of Spiceworks has “exploded,” Tanzillo said. “We now have 1.3 million users, interacting, sharing best practices, and it’s all for free. They pay zero dollars for the community discussions or any of the products.”

So, perceptive man that he is, Linask asked the sensible question on everyone’s mind: “How do you generate any revenue?”

The company took a different tack, people thought the company was crazy, but as Tanzillo said, think of Google (News - Alert) and Facebook. They provide a free service and make their money – and lots of it – off contextual advertising. “We do the same thing. We have technology vendors eager to connect with these IT pros.”

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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