What began as an experiment in podcasting quickly became something more – much more. The positive reaction to the first show took me in a new direction, on the other side of the OnForce model. It is something that, looking back, was the one thing missing from the online resources available to the Service Provider – the resources. They were sorely needed.
As a member of the OnForce community since May 2004 I was well aware of the void. Although the platform itself had a lot of appeal I was often disappointed and frustrated with the limited support at my disposal from the platform itself. Of course, there are the forums, and the army of other Service Providers who could collectively provide an answer or at least some insight into resolving issues to technical problems. To some degree they helped, but I couldn’t help thinking that there was still something missing, something that would provide me with a support line on which I could rely to support the Buyers of OnForce and their customers, as well as my own business.
Yes, there was Google. There will always be Google. But it can be very time consuming and even counter productive searching hundreds of pages for a specific answer that may or may not even be relevant to my question, especially in matters related to the actual operation of my business.
For instance, take the topic of parts vendors and suppliers. This is one that has come up time and again in the OnForce forums. The same question is asked over and over. “I have a customer who has a (insert name of PC here) and I need a (name of ambiguous part) but (national retailer) doesn’t have them and I cannot find one locally. Is there a company out there that sells them?”. Over the course of a few days, weeks or months the ever helpful members will respond with lists of suggestions for possible sources, most of which are retail. Retail?!? These are resellers, after all! Oddly, many of them are unaware of the distribution channel for resellers. A few of them do business with a national distributor, but most of them do not and do not know how to locate one. This is not good. It is an opportunity waiting to knock. It is not the only one.
Some of these Providers have years or decades in the business and know the business side of the industry. However many started out as hobbyists and enthusiasts who did it on the side or made the plunge to go into business with no prior experience marketing, buying or selling product for resale or business management. They are technicians. Business administration, accounting , inventory management, marketing, sales and business law are not part of their portfolio or their interests. That is why many rely on national IT service companies and OnForce to handle it for them while they merely show up to do the work. Unfortunately, most of them cannot rely on that alone to take their businesses beyond basic service for another company’s customers. Yet many try. That is where frustration begins.
Enter The Force Field.
It began as an experiment in podcasting, a test of my training and abilities from a previous career in broadcasting, well before I went into business building computers. I wanted to try a new media as a possible move back to voice work in radio or television or even podcasting itself as a new form of entertainment. I also wanted to test the possibility of managing distribution within a closed venue in a limited scope. I needed a controlled environment, and OnForce was the perfect subject. So I developed a project and created a pilot episode.
The results were better than expected. So I took the idea and ran with it.
The show went over well with the Providers, but what interested me more was the reaction from OnForce. They seemed very excited about it. That was very encouraging. Unfortunately, for understandable reasons they declined to assist in the distribution of the show to the entire Provider base. Apparently this now placed me in the category of vendor. They told me they must remain neutral to all vendors. So they were unable to provide me with a link to a specific central area that all registered Providers access. So much for mass distribution, I thought.
So I placed the show on hiatus for two months while I came up with Plan B. This is where the light really came on. A number of listeners suggested early on I make the podcast open to all IT providers – not just those within OnForce, but all IT professionals. At first I resisted. That was not my intended audience. But as I lurked around other technical forums it slowly became clear that the questions, concerns and issues that OnForce Providers had in their forums were shared by those in other venues. In fact, I often lamented the fact that there was no one source to access that covered the complicated marriage between the technical and business sides of IT for the little guy that I knew of, save for NASBA. Even they didn’t have what I was looking for.
Primarily a blog and home for The Force Field podcast, theforcefield.net has a long term goal to become a jump point to those resources the Providers are searching for and a means to network and partner with vendors and each other to provide the solutions their customers need.
You have entered The Force Field! Sit back, relax, and enjoy the shows!