The forgotten victim of cloud, mobile, and BYOD

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on October 30, 2013

From The News Desk

We're all so excited. Cloud! And BYOD! And mobile! So many new technologies, so many options, so much disruption. It's a Silicon Valley party.

But you know who's not partying it up with every new enterprise product to enter the market? The poor, forgotten IT guy or gal. You know, the one who has to fix everything when it breaks and baby the whole building into understanding the equipment?

With all the new technology out there, the poor IT pro is stuck picking up the pieces, trying to keep enterprise files and activity secure while the rest of us frolic happily in fields with our tablets and cell phones. Or something.

Spiceworks, the social network of IT professionals (bet you didn't know that was a thing, didja?), aims to support the forgotten and/or overworked IT guy or gal.

And this week, Spiceworks announced that it's moving into LinkedIn territory by launching an IT job board. It's a feature Spiceworks users have wanted for years. Now they can create resumes online, and use them to apply for IT jobs posted by other companies. Likewise, companies can surf Spiceworks user resumes to find the right candidates.

For those of you developing tech for enterprise, take note: Spiceworks has won the hearts and minds of your potential future customers. You want it on your team.

Spiceworks building a powerful community of IT professionals the way GitHub has for developers.

It's a place for IT pros to go for help managing and learning about all these new technologies that the rest of us just get to enjoy. Spiceworks users hang out on the site all day, integrating it into their workflow. They surf chat forums to get help solving problems. They gather new information about upcoming IT products from vendors. They even beta test said products and give feedback. The new job board feature is one more addictive Spiceworks feature.

Four million IT pros use it every month, and there's only 15 million IT pros in the world. Doing the math, roughly one in three IT professionals in the world is a monthly user of Spiceworks.

Furthermore, they don't just use it -- they love it. There's brand loyalty, because Spiceworks is "spicing" up the IT profession. No really. That's how it got its name. "We thought, wow IT as an industry and a job, the way people are treating it, is dreadfully boring. Someone needs to spice it up," says Spiceworks co-founder Jay Hallberg.

IT professionals tend to be the black sheep of a business. They're the silent superheroes who come and go in the night, maintaining your Internet and protecting your computers. Depending on how big your organization is, you probably don't even know the name of your IT person. You only seek them out when your computer crashes, and hope is lost.

"If you're an IT pro supporting lawyers or accountants, and you're trying to keep up with the technology which is changing, you don't necessarily get a lot of respect," Hallberg says.

There's a need in the profession for connection and support, which is the hole Spiceworks fills. Users come to find answers to problems they've encountered, but they stay for the culture. It's collaborative, and IT professionals can support each other when they don't have that guidance or community at their job.

Along those lines, Hallberg excitedly related one of his favorite member stories.

"A bunch of users got together in a pub in London and someone came up to me and said, 'Thank you. I've been in IT for twenty years, and it's never been harder and less fun than today with cloud and mobile. Without Spiceworks I'd have no home and I'd have no fun,'" Hallberg says.

Essentially, Spiceworks is filling the emotional -- and technical -- need of the entire profession.

As a result, it's got the eyeballs of all the IT pros who would use up and coming technology and could lobby their bosses to buy it. Those are some valuable eyeballs for advertisers targeting the enterprise tech market.

Advertising isn't the only way Spiceworks leverages its user base to benefit IT vendors. As I wrote about a few months ago, startups can apply to get hundreds of free beta testers for their enterprise tech product through Spiceworks. Also, exposure to hundreds of potential customers, natch.

So Spiceworks is the advice giver or help provider for IT professionals, its the beta test platform for IT vendors, and now its aiming to be the LinkedIn for IT recruitment. IT isn't exactly hot, but enterprise tech certainly is, and startups should be taking note of the role Spiceworks plays in the grassroots IT community.

[Image courtesy: IT Crowd]