Friday, January 4, 2008

How do you rate on the Spicemeter?

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Spiceworks is one of those new "Systems Management 2.0" companies that provides IT pros a quick to setup, easy to use, powerful and free, (as in beer,) management tool that allows its users to discover hardware in their environment, collect management data, discover new software installed on user's systems, allow users to submit trouble tickets, etc. For a certain size of IT shop, Spiceworks delivers some pretty incredible value. More interesting to me, is how I rate on the Spicemeter!

Their business model is interesting on its own. A free to use ad supported revenue model, now including a "store" function allowing their customers to use the service as an IT procurement / management tool in addition to systems management. Presumably, they have worked out channel/referral agreements with their vendors, leveraging their relationships with purchase- influential staff to build a credible business. I can't help but root for a company like this. Build good product, develop a loyal community and credibly monetize the relationship.

That said, it is a simple little thing called the "Spicemeter" that captured my attention. The Spicemeter is little widget that grades the user according to how much functionality of the Spiceworks product they have explored. This might be thought of as an ego feeding ploy to get people to engage in the product, but on a a simpler level, it is an immediate feedback to the user that they might not know everything the product has to offer.

With a zero-touch - no sales force - go-to-market model, it is critical for the Spiceworks marketers to not just get in front of users, or even get downloads, but ensure that users really understand the full value of a relatively complex tool (and hopefully then promote happy customers.) If users don't actually get the full value, likely out of ignorance, they walk away and Spiceworks goes down in flames. A traditional product might not care how much functionality gets used, as long as they sell the license.

There is so much partial overlap in the systems management space, it is hard to know where one product starts and another ends. What better way to ensure that the full value potential is digested by evaluating IT pros than to grade them on their thoroughness of the evaluation. Cool stuff.

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