OnForce: Your Google Map To IT Engagements?
OnForce, an online marketplace that connects VARs with IT customers, today unveiled a new service that caught The VAR Guy’s attention. The service, called OnForce MarketView Index, provides VARs with some very interesting state-by-state IT project data. The VAR Guy sees big potential for the index. If OnForce plays its cards right, it could become the Google Maps of the IT channel, connecting VARs with customers across the country.
One prime example: Imagine if a VAR could look at at a map of the United States that displayed a mash-up of recent IT projects (plotted by Zip Code). Suddenly, you’d have a clear picture of key IT opportunities and trends across the country. Sound too good to be true? Guess again, folks. OnForce’s online marketplace has all the data in place to eventually generate such info.
But The VAR Guy is getting ahead of himself. Here’s what the OnForce MarketView Index does today. You can use the index to analyze IT work orders across the country (on a state-by-state basis) for the last 90 days. Using this data, you can determine which states generate the highest average revenue for a VoIP engagement, a point-of-sale (POS) project, etc. VARS can then determine which regions or which technology markets are under-served: Should you open an office in Omaha or does it make more sense to partner with another VAR that’s already in that city? The OnForce MarketView Index gives you data–and a social network of VARs–to help you make those types of business decisions.
So, where is the index heading next? Right now, the project categories are a bit generic. For instance, you can search for information about recent “operating system” projects. But in the months ahead, OnForce could potentially introduce more specialized categories, such as “operating systems – Windows Vista” and “operating systems – Windows XP.” At that point, VARs would be able to examine the trend line between Vista and XP deployments, customer concerns related specifically to Vista migrations, etc.
Also under consideration: OnForce is examining how to introduce graphical elements to the index. Over time, it will likely resemble a graphical business intelligence dashboard, showing viewers key IT project trends and VAR hot spots across the country.
To date, VARs and customers have negotiated more than 300,000 IT project engagements using the OnForce marketplace. The marketplace is similar to an eBay designed to drive interactions between VARs and IT customers. Roughly 10,000 VARs have registered to use the service.