Career Watch: The 'fix mentality' is in

OnForce CEO Peter Cannone discusses trends gleaned from the data on the online marketplace's service professionals

The CEO of OnForce, Peter Cannone, discusses trends gleaned from data on the online marketplace's 12,000 service professionals.

Do you think the work orders you receive are early indicators of what's happening in the IT landscape?

Yes. The volume and nature of service orders we receive provide us with unique data on market trends and growth opportunities. We just issued our OnForce Services Marketplace Index for the first quarter of 2009, a comprehensive analysis of nearly 70,000 service events across North America.

What did the indicators suggest at the end of 2008, and how has that played out in Q1 2009?

Over the course of 2008 and into 2009, one of the most salient trends to emerge is the "fix mentality." We know from our customers that they're looking to fix things first and then buy only if necessary. In Q1, nearly two-thirds of all work orders generated through our marketplace were in the "break-fix" service sector. We anticipate that businesses will continue to delay purchases of new or even low-cost equipment and opt for break-fix services for the foreseeable future.

We've also seen our customers turn to alternative IT solutions to help manage costs. For instance, in order to help curtail travel expenses, in Q1 we saw companies conducting more meetings via videoconferencing and making larger investments in projector technology.

One exception in the break-fix mentality is in networking. As businesses try to boost productivity, we've seen an increasing demand for robust networks that offer more connectivity, more bandwidth and more information exchange. Nearly 85% of all our network jobs in the first quarter were for new installation and setup, versus repair.

What do you foresee for next quarter and beyond?

With the economic clouds still looming, we foresee that most businesses will remain in cost-saving and belt-tightening mode for the remainder of 2009.

In addition to the increase in the "break-fix" sector, we also expect that businesses and end users will shift to a "cheap can be chic" buying model -- for example, choosing nonbranded PCs and netbooks. We also expect an increasing reliance on the outsourcing of corporate IT functions and a renewed focus on low prices.

Any particularly hot skills to report?

As organizations increasingly look to cut costs in the face of shrinking revenue, it's not surprising that the adoption of VoIP has been strong due to its cheaper cost compared to traditional telephony services. We anticipate an increase in VoIP and in networking jobs as more businesses adopt these technologies.

The 7-Second Interview

Of course you want to make a good first impression when you go for a job interview, but bear in mind that the initial impression you make will be broadcast to the interviewer very quickly. In seven seconds, as a matter of fact.

That's how much time it takes people to make 11 decisions about us in a first encounter, according to a study conducted by neuroscientists from New York University and Harvard. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, they examined brain activity as study participants made initial evaluations of fictional individuals. The fMRI results showed significant activity in two areas: the amygdala, which previously has been linked to emotional learning about inanimate objects and to social evaluations based on trust or race group; and the posterior cingulate cortex, which has been linked to economic decision-making and assigning subjective value to rewards.

These are the 11 traits that people make decisions about in those first seven seconds: education level, economic level, perceived credibility and believability, trustworthiness, level of sophistication, sexual identification, level of success, political background, religious background, ethnic background, and social and professional desirability.

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