It's High Noon for IT Hired Guns Credit: Cowboy image via Shutterstock

IT field service faces a year of upheaval as the industry changes how IT service businesses structure and manage their workforce, a new survey shows. Enterprise and small- and medium-sized business will have increasing difficulties finding and retaining full-time talent.

More and more IT technicians are joining the independent workforce, according to a survey of hundreds of such professionals conducted by OnForce, a source for on-site technical talent. This migration has clear drivers: a growing market opportunity for independent contractors caused by a shift in workforce composition and requirements.

More companies are adopting a hybrid IT service model to effectively manage variable demand and mitigate the financial impact of full-time techs waiting for work. The pace of innovation, including the move to bring-your-own-device policies, requires fast access to device- and network-specific experts. This makes it cost prohibitive for most IT service businesses to have all the experts they need on staff on a full-time basis.

Even when the market rebounds, this new hybrid workforce model will remain, OnForce said. In a recent survey, the company found that 56 percent of those who willingly joined the independent workforce said they wouldn't go back.

IT service companies will have to re-think service delivery, in the face of increased pressure for faster-than-ever fixes, OnSource found. The demand for instant gratification has carried over from consumers to business owners.

For service companies, this means a collective re-think on delivery. While this is increasing pressure on employees and suppliers, companies know that they've hit the cost wall, and there's very little fat left to trim to improve margins. As a result, 2012 ushered in a transition from price competition to service-based competition.

Finding ways to improve the service buyer experience, for businesses and consumers, is critical. The ability to offer faster, better service offers a key competitive advantage and will move front-and-center in 2013.

"The IT service industry is changed forever after five years of economic turmoil and a lot of really hard lessons learned," said Peter Cannone, CEO of OnForce. "As IT service businesses rebound and rebuild, they're restructuring with efficiency, flexibility and mobility at the forefront."

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