OnForce: When you need on-site IT services, and you need them now

Summary:Here at C3 Expo in New York City, I bumped into Jeffrey Leventhal, CEO of OnForce.com.

Here at C3 Expo in New York City, I bumped into Jeffrey Leventhal, CEO of OnForce.com.  Until meeting Leventhal, I never even heard of OnForce.  In a nutshell, OnForce is one of those intermediary match-making services where people who are in need of certain IT services (normally, labor intensive ones) can find providers of those services.  But this isn't any ordinary IT services  RFP/RFQ site.  The idea, essentially, is to use the Web to create an on-demand IT labor force.  Not only is it very Priceline-esque in the way it operates (I have this job that needs to be done and here's what I'll pay for it), it also serves the market of buyers that need IT services and need them now (like, within the next few to 24 hours).  For example, have you ever needed someone to come in and install software on 100 computers and needed it done like yesterday? Or a printer that needs repair?  Go to OnForce, describe the nature of what you need, and basically, according to Leventhal, it works on a first come, first served basis. In other words, IT buyers usually accept the first provider that says they can do the job and that provider will show up on your premises in as few as three hours. 

According to Leventhal, OnForce also includes a rating system that cuts both ways and that quickly separates the wheat from the chaff.  Buyers of IT services can rate providers on the basis of the quality of the work they do and, on the flip side, providers can rate buyers on a variety of criteria (eg: how well-described the job was) that helps other providers figure out which companies can be serviced profitably.  For example, if a provider shows up for a job and it entails more work than what was described on OnForce.com but the buyer is unwilling to pay for the extra work, that buyer would end up with a rating that would cause other providers to steer clear.  There don't seem to be any boundaries to the business.  For example, I don't see why consumers who are having difficulty getting their WiFi router set up couldn't use the service much the same way some business might.  When you think about it in those terms, OnForce basically competes with outfits like Best Buy's Geek Squad (to the extent that you could call the Geek Squad for some of the same services that you might request through OnForce).

A scan of OnForce's home page shows what's happening in the various marketplaces it serves (sort of like a big board in a stock market).  Those marketplaces (or service categories are):

  • Hardware Services
  • Software Services
  • Network Device Services
  • Printer Services
  • Network Wiring
  • Operating Systems
  • End-User Training
  • Point of Sales 
  • Data Recovery
So, now that I've seen OnForce for IT-related stuff, my only question is, when do we have the same thing for plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and the like?

Topics: IT Employment

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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