Got a few minutes to kill? Why not hone your small business IT skills?
The new Spiceworks feed, available in a new mobile app and on the company's community site, can help small business IT pros and administrators of practically every stripe stay on top of the latest developments affecting their both industries and their careers. Now, you can put all that time you spend riding the bus or waiting in line for coffee (with a new creative spelling of your name on the cup) to better use.
The app is an extension of the 10-year-old IT management software provider's community outreach and engagement efforts. In addition to its popular small business network management software, Spiceworks is also well known for its vibrant online community, where IT specialists, industry experts, and technology vendors come together to solve problems, swap stories, and share tips that help make their jobs easier.
[Related: A Small Business IT Concierge at Your Service].
Now, some of the best parts of the Spiceworks community are available in the Spiceworks newsfeed.
Feeding the Need for Small Business IT Expertise
Spiceworks' Tabrez Syed, vice president of product strategy, told Small Business Computingthe new feed reflects "that Spiceworks is becoming central to IT pros' jobs."
Thanks to the new feed, instead of visiting Spiceworks on their browsers and scanning posts to catch up on the latest developments, IT pros can now receive—delivered right into their hands—personalized content that aligns with their interests.
The Spiceworks Mobile app, currently available in beta for iOS and Android devices, allows members to customize their feed, helping them to stay focused on their areas of expertise, whether they're networking gurus or authorities on operating systems. As on the Spiceworks community website, you can access and contribute to the day's top IT discussions. Like a post? Give it a "spice up."
Of course, no one is born an IT expert. For those just learning the ropes, the Spiceworks Mobile and browser apps now feature a Daily Challenge. Each day, participants can test their IT knowledge and sharpen the skills they use in their day-to-day job with questions from Spiceworks pros. They can track their progress, earn badges, and see if they need to brush up on a topic.
The newsfeed's real value is in helping small business IT professionals find effective IT strategies and make the right purchasing decisions, said Syed.
When a new operating system patch comes out or a new smartphone hits the scene, Spiceworks' active community and crowdsourced recommendations can set IT novices and pros on the right track. "A big part of IT is deciding what technology to use," said Syed.
You can also use the Spiceworks feed to catch up on the latest IT headlines. The app automatically prepopulates your feed with technology stories from around the Web. By editing the list of Spiceworks groups you follow, you can further customize the experience, enabling the app to "curate interesting pieces of content" for you, added Syed.
Spiceworks plans to add private messaging, push notifications, and advanced search capabilities to the mobile app in the months ahead.
Troubleshooting Connectivity Issues
Also new (and in beta) is Spiceworks' Connectivity Dashboard, a free cloud-based troubleshooting application that helps IT workers quickly narrow down network issues that affect application performance.
Organizations install a software agent on each workstation or system they wish to monitor. Using a color-coded (red, yellow, and green) grid, administrators can tell whether network slowdowns or interruptions are caused by a network segment, a user's system or the company's ISP.
Instead of running all sorts of time-consuming checks, administrators can simply glance at the dashboard. Applications are arranged into columns and users make up the rows. "If you see a column of red, the app is down," said Syed. If a set of rows is red, it indicates that the local network may have suffered an outage, and it helps administrators zero in on the affected equipment.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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