COMPANIES

Are you ready for the Match.com of the IT services world?

There are countless commercial resources for matching yourself with something you desire, be it a flight, an investment, or even a date. Now, with Shop4Clouds, you can do the same thing with IT services.

It took four months for founder Keith Trippie, along with a partner and development team, to launch a platform they say can help commercial and federal customers save time and money, essentially doing away with the hassle of conducting market research.

Trippie, former executive director for the Homeland Security’s Enterprise System Development Office, did this at his old job in government already when he once pitched the CIO an idea to build a startup to bring innovation into the enterprise, Trippie said.

That startup became a division within the agency, and in four years, Trippie was able to build it up from no employees to 160 federal employees and contractors, overseeing cloud, IT enterprise services, mobile and analytics.

A few years ago, the idea for Shop4Clouds struck Trippie when he realized there were common business problems that affected both federal agencies and commercial entities.

“[Shop4Clouds] was a reaction to the federal government spending a lot of time and money on market research for IT and cloud services,” he said. “When I left DHS, I talked with a bunch of commercial entities, and they had similar problem. There was no Match.com or Travelocity for IT—commercial or federal—so I built Shop4Clouds as a reaction to that gap in the market.”

By using Shop4Clouds, federal and commercial entities will host a white label, private instance version of the Shop4Clouds platform that can collect customer intent data, Trippie said. The entities can then use this data for sharping future research and development, sales and marketing strategies, partner agreements and more.

For example, federal agencies can employee generated data across their agency as a means for CIOs to plan future IT services and compare alternatives for modernization and new projects.

Agencies can also collaborate with their chief procurement officer on strategic sourcing contracts and the agency chief financial officer can use the platform to better estimate future IT costs to support the planning, programming, budgeting and execution processes, Trippie said.

Shop4Clouds utilizes gamification, or the application of game playing elements in non-game contexts, in order to more effectively market the application to its users. The more users shop, the more referrals they make, they score points.

“Shop4Cloud points will accumulate for a user and in the future, cloud and IT shoppers from commercial entities will be able to redeem for gift cards and will add badges that users will gain based on number of interactions with the service,” Trippie said.

This allows users to be rewarded for gaining a better knowledge on cloud, IT solutions and cyber capabilities, he added.

Shop4Clouds is meant to save time. The way things are now in government, “I would have to hire a third party consultant to go do market research,” he said. Then, “I would have to go through a procurement just to bring in the third party and that could take six months.”

“Not only is that costly for a federal employee, it’s also extremely time consuming and the data is old by the time the research is done because the world of IT changes every 4-6 weeks,” he added.

Using a tool like Shop4Clouds, this process can take as little as a day. The app can also be tailored to a user’s needs specifically. Users can request the questions being asked or other content be changed and Trippie and his team will subsequently update the matching algorithm. In a month or two, it can be completely tailored to a user’s needs, Trippie said.

If you want to check it out for yourself, a commercial, free version is available online. It has over 25 cloud products and services already loaded.

Right now, Trippie and his team are excited because a model like this does not exist in the IT world today, he said. He imagines that, going forward, his product will continue to find success.

“As more revenue comes in, I’ll look to build out my own staff, but [right now] we outsource to keep cost down and get it to market quickly,” Trippie said.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at mhoover@washingtontechnology.com, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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