Spiceworks announced at its annual Spiceworld conference in Austin, TX that it is adding new machine-learning based capabilities to its IT marketplace in order to create “intent-based targeting capabilities” in matching buyers and sellers.
The Spiceworks IT marketplace is visited by around 20 million people every quarter, according to Spiceworks, and is growing at 30% year-on-year. 85% of the Fortune 500 use Spiceworks in some fashion.
Spiceworks CEO and co-founder Jay Hallberg likened the proposed change to that of buying a house 15 years ago compared to the experience today with online marketplaces like Zillow.
“We’re building the first community-powered marketplace for the IT industry, one that couples unique first-party data and pervasive intelligence to directly connect technology buyers and sellers with the resources they need in any given moment,” Hallberg said in a prepared statement.
Traditionally, recommendation engines have struggled with opaque signals based on observing purchase and browsing behaviour. For example, systems that assume a single couch purchase indicates a burgeoning desire to start a couch collection, and immediately recommends an additional 17 couches to buy.
Spiceworks has some advantages over such systems, because it is a business-to-business system without messy signals such as buying gifts for family members (I do not have women’s size 8 feet). It also has a high degree of trust with its userbase already, while other platforms endure a major backlash over creepy spying behaviour and losing control of millions of their customers’ data.
Attendees at the conference felt positive about the move, with one IT Pro commenting that it sounded a lot like Match.com in being able to match vendors with his organization based on their needs. He cited Spiceworks track-record of trustworthiness as part of the reason for feeling good about the announcement.
When asked why not add this capability earlier, Hallberg said that it required the world to change. “People aren’t just talking about tech for its own sake any more,” he said. “That’s created a big change to vendor marketing mechanisms.” Hallberg sees a substantial advantage in the Spiceworks platform being able to reduce the cost of marketing to highly qualified customers who are not merely willing, but eager to hear from vendors with products they want to buy.