In the 1990s, long distance phone companies wanted to offer "last mile" local phone services. Now, a similar trend is emerging in the managed services market -- where regional and even national MSPs want to offer personalized, local, on-site services.
Enter OnForce, the online market place where IT service providers can hire one another to manage specific technology projects. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing number of MSPs are leveraging the OnForce market place to outsource contract work to solutions providers.
Just ask DirectPointe, the top-ranked company on our 2008 MSPmentor 100 list.
DirectPointe earlier this month inked a partnership with OnForce, indicating that the MSP will contract with service providers within the online market place.
Could this be part of a larger trend? Paul Nadjarian, senior VP of marketing and product at OnForce, certainly thinks so. During a phone chat on Monday, Nadjarian pointed out that face-to-face services remain the lifeblood of the channel.
And while remote managed services provide recurring revenue, MSPs will need partners (peer IT service providers) in order to fulfill service level agreements (SLAs) and deliver on-site support, notes Nadjarian.
Autotask: Singing the Same TuneOf course, it's natural for Nadjarian to evangelize on-site support. The OnForce community spans more than 5,000 service buyers and 12,000 technicians -- the vast majority of whom visit customer sites or residences to deploy or troubleshoot corporate or consumer IT systems.
But OnForce isn't the only company promoting the growing link between MSPs and on-site service partners. Autotask, for instance, is enhancing its professional services automation platforms (Autotask Go and Autotask Pro) to support outsourcing management services.
The enhancements will allow Autotask customers to coordinate trouble tickets and service engagements across multiple IT service providers -- including OnForce community members. Autotask has yet to formally announce this outsourcing management system, but it's just around the corner.
Ultimately, OnForce's momentum with MSPs reinforces a key point: On-site support doesn't disappear in the managed services world.