Consumer trends, such as social networking sites, are having an impact on the network management market. While it does promote its network management software, one vendor is also trying to make itself into a destination spot for IT executives.Spiceworks, which has been in business since 2006, added community based features to Spiceworks IT Desktop, its management tool geared to small and medium businesses. The latest features, called SpiceLists, enables users to collaboratively develop, rank, and share IT best practices, products and services, and reports. In effect, the company has put an IT spin on the rating services found on various consumer product sites. The vendor has developed a few such services. The Share Advice feature allows community members to capture, rank and rate a variety of best practices, including deploying Microsoft Vista, the best ways to back up servers, and the 10 best anti-virus solutions. A Find the Best Products and Services feature enables users to rely on peer reviews to match products and services to their needs.
The idea of building and using communities to support product sales has been gaining momentum. After all, this is the foundation of many open source products. It also meshes with Spiceworksï¿¼s business model. The company has been a renegade in building its business: its software is free; the company generates revenue through an advertising based model. The more pages it has to display; the more revenue it can generate.
At this juncture, it is difficult to tell how viable such a model is. The company claims to have passed the 400,000 user mark, but the validity and impact of such numbers are always difficult to gauge. At the very least, the company has made the management space a bit more interesting and provided small and medium businesses with more online resources, if they are in need of them.
How much interest would you have in community based product rating services? What do you see as their advantages? Do you see any downsides with them?