The only way #VRM can get scale is by giving customers scale. And customers won’t get scale until enablers of VRM leverage the same open source code and protocols.
Scale for customers means being able to deal with many companies the same way, and to issue signals to whole markets in one move.
We don’t have that yet, though there is lots of development work going on. On the ProjectVRM wiki we list many dozens of development projects, including 22 startups in the Intelligent Personal Assistant and intentcasting categories (“†” signifies a commercial effort):
Intelligent Personal Assistants
- iNeed † “Your own personal assistant.”
- MyWave † “‘Frank’ puts the customer in control of “getting personalised experiences anytime, anywhere, on any device.”
Note: Intelligent Personal Assistants, above, by nature also do intentcasting.
- About2Buy † “A Collaborative Commerce System to Align Internet Buyers & Sellers Via Multiple Channels of Social Distribution.”
- Crowdspending † “… gives each of us the power of all of us.”
- GetHuman † “Need to contact a company? Or have them call you? Get customer service faster and easier.”
- Greentoe † “Finally…There’s a New Way to Shop! Name Your Price & We Negotiate For You.”
- HireRush † “Connecting people who are looking for work and locals who need to hire trusted professionals.”
- HomeAdvisor † “We help you find trusted home improvement pros.”
- Indie Dash Button “This … turns traditional advertising on its head, and removes the need for complicated targeting technology. Customers readily identify themselves, creating more valuable sales channels where guesswork is all but eliminated.”
- Intently † “Request any service anywhere with Intently.co.”
- Instacart † “The best way to shop for groceries — Delivered from the stores you love in one hour”
- Magic † “Text this phone number to get whatever you want on demand with no hassle…”
- Mesh † “Connect with only the things you love… See ads from brands that matter to you. And block the ones that don’t.”
- MyTime † “Book appointments for anything.”
- Nifti † – Intentcasting “puts” in the market at customer (or community-) -chosen prices
- Pikaba † “Pikaba is Social Shopping Platform that captures consumer intent to purchase and connects them with the right local business.”
- PricePatrol † “monitors nearby stores for what you want at the price you want”
- RedBeacon † “Trusted pros for a better home.”
- TaskRabbit † “Tell us what you need, let us know what we can take off your plate, choose a Tasker, hire one of our fully vetted Taskers to get the job done.”
- Thumbtack † “We help you hire experienced professionals at a price that’s right.”
- TrackIf † “Track your favorite sites for sales, new items, back-in-stock, and more.”
- WebOfNeeds – “A distributed marketplace driven by customer needs.”
- yellCast † “What you want, where you want it.”
- Zaarly † “Hire local, hand-picked home services. We moderate every job and guarantee happiness at virtually any cost.”
But so far only two projects on those lists — the Indie Dash Button — and WebOfNeeds — give people (and companies helping them, such as those on the two lists) an open source way to scale across multiple vendors with the same signaling method. (I am sure there are more. If you know some, or want us to correct this list, please let us know and we’ll make the changes.)
Talk about intentcasting has increased lately, thanks to the need for better signaling from demand to supply at a time when more than 200 million souls are blocking ads, and there is a growing sense that this is a crisis for advertisers and publishers that’s too good to waste —and that the best either of those parties can do is a better job of listening for signals from the marketplace that are beyond their control but will do them some good. Intentcasting is one of those signals.
Intentcasting is a good signal because it’s friendly and comes from either new customers wanting to spend or existing customers wanting to relate (for example, to obtain services). In the former case it fits nicely into the existing need (and programmatic interfaces for) lead generation. In the latter case it speaks straight to call centers. What matters most is that both come voluntarily and straight from prospective or actual customers.
I’m wondering if there is a semantic-ish approach to Intentcasting. By that I mean a vernacular of abbreviated simple statements of what one is looking for. Example: “2br 2ba apt 10019” means a two bedroom and two bath apartment in the 10019 zip code.
Again, what matters most here is that these signals need to be issued to the marketplace outside of the silo system that currently comprises way too much of the business world. I know the IndieWeb folks have worked on something like this. (Theirs is the Indie Dash Button, mentioned above).
And I know there are already bitcoin/blockchain appraoches too. For eample, @MrChrisEllis’s ProTip, which facilitates Bitcoin payments in a nearly frictionless way. There are the broad outlines of possibility in both EmanciTerm and EmanciPay, which are design models we’ve had for years. (ProTip is an example of the latter.)
We could also use a good generic symbol for intent. I don’t know of one, or it would have made the cover of The Intention Economy. The star photo above is the best I could come up with for a visual to go with this post. But the lazyweb should do better than that.
Whatever we come up with, the time could hardly be more right.
[This post was impelled by the need to enlarge on my comment under Move Over, Doc Searls: It’s Time For A New Intention Economy by Kaila Colbin (@kcolbin) in MediaPost. Thanks, Kaila, for getting me going. :-)]