VoIP Most Expensive IT Service, OnForce Data Reveals

VoIP-related IT services cost on average 50 percent per hour more than other IT services, making it the most expensive IT service, according to a new quarterly benchmarking report from OnForce, the online marketplace for IT services professionals.

The report, which will be issued June 3, provides pricing benchmarks for a variety of IT services based on the work orders processed through its marketplace. Since its inception, OnForce has been used to complete nearly 750,000 IT service work orders; a majority of these IT service work orders come from solutions providers rather than end user businesses. The initial data is from the period Jan. 1 through March 31, 2008, and includes IT service work orders from more than 1,000 VARs, solution providers and IT service firms.

OnForce plans to update the report quarterly and provide IT services trending data through quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year comparisons.

A key part of the report is the Hourly Rate Index, or the IT services cost per on-site hour. That national average is pegged at 1.00, with each point representing 10 percent. So an HRI of 1.50 (as is the case with VoIP), means the hourly rate for IT service outsourcing is 50 percent higher than the national average. In contrast, IT services related to LANs scores 0.81 and server work scores 0.90. Aside from VoIP, another telephony service, wiring and cabling, scores 1.36.

The average IT service work order value for VoIP is $449, compared with $282 for wiring and cabling and $210 for network and $197 for server work.

“We are not at all surprised to see VoIP at the top of this list as the most expensive IT service category given that it’s an emerging technology compared to established categories like networking and computers,” wrote the report’s authors. “In our conversations with VARs and solution providers, this is attributed to the idea that ‘where there is mystery, there is margin.’”

IT Services Outsourcing

VoIP/telephony subcategories in IT services also top the most expensive lists. A complete system install is $2,449 or 5.49 on the HRI scale. OnForce doesn’t have an analogous “complete system” rank for networking.

Requests for a complete VoIP system are a relatively recent phenomenon, said Paul Nadjaran, senior vice president of marketing for OnForce. Up until two years ago, he said, IT services work orders were issued primarily for router installation, but many companies have become comfortable asking for the entire installation.

IT service for a VoIP/telephony hardware/router is about $542 or 1.60 on the HRI scale while the analogous installation of a network switch/hub is $192, but 1.58 on the HRI. VoIP/telephony network connectivity also ranked high on the HRI at 1.52 with an average work order value of $236. Network connectivity for a server had a similar IT service work order value at $238, but an HRI ranking of 1.60.

“We’ve seen a surge in VoIP work orders,” said Nadjaran, noting a 150 percent year-over-year increase in IT services for VoIP running through the OnForce marketplace. “People are trying to solve the ‘last-mile’ problem.” Nadjaran explains the last-mile problem is the gap in coverage or skills in implementing VoIP at the premises. Serving the last mile can be inefficient if a solutions provider is forced to staff up for ubiquitous coverage, so OnForce’s variable workforce model helps to overcome that inefficiency, he said.

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