Success factors for fourth parties/user agents

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Session Topic: System Factors for Fourth Party User Agents (T4G)

Convener: Gam Dias

Notes-taker(s): Gam Dias


Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:


Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

NOTE: the original meetings notes were in the form of a mind-map that is also included as part of this document. The text below represents a transcription a week after the event – so it may be somewhat enriched by additional thoughts that I had subsequently.

Defining the Fourth Party As an individual, I need a representative to whom I can submit my personal RFP to – with the knowledge that they will not only find what I am looking for with some degree of accuracy from the entire available market, but that they will represent me who is buying rather than a seller who may be paying them a commission on the sale.

The basic description can be found on the post on the VRM blog and was drawn up on the board by Drummond Reed:

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In a Corporate Purchasing function, the ‘agent’ truly represents the buyer – in the manner defined above.

The agent or if there is technology involved, allows the buyer to specify a highly attributed RFP – essentially to make a very specific offer with tightly specified parameters. Not vital, but it makes for a more useful fourth party.

For the 2nd Party or Vendor, this provides a very highly qualified set of leads.

Somewhere, where these things come to pass, a new name was mooted for Fourth Party – ‘User Agents’. Is this a term with different connotations and therefore different technical, legal and market implications?

What Makes a Fourth Party

There were two proposals put forwards – a Legal obligation or a Technical Infrastructure

Do Fourth Parties have a fiduciary duty to the individuals that they represent? In Real Estate, there is a legal definition of the ‘Buyers’ Agent’ and this is distinct from the ‘Sellers’ Agent’. (Definitions at MortgageNewsDaily and Moving.com.)

Examples of Fourth Parties / User Agents

The list of services suggested was as follows:

Zaarly – peer to peer request service (mobile) MyforBuy – peer to peer request service Ebay Want It Now – product requests Craigslist Wanted Ads – straightup wanted ads Kynetx – browser application platform Connect.me – person to person connector Fancyhands - concierge GetFriday - concierge Urban Radar – I think this was a concept rather than an actual service because I couldn’t find anything Autoplanet – another one that I couldn’t find Microsoft Cars – automotive portal

What is going to make a Fourth Party Successful

Contractual Infrastructure If 3rd and 4th parties are carefully defined and their obligations to the parties they represent and to each other – the relationship stands a better chance of succeeding because expectations can be set that define the actions.

Economics of the Transaction The economics of the transaction now has to be win-win-win-win. Only then will such a set of relationships succeed, sustain and grow. Business Environment

Parallels to the credit card network – of how adoption needed to work for both parties and then to hit critical mass. A degree of buyer power or at least the desire from buyers to unite and regain some control in the process

Value Proposition

How would it be implemented? Personal RFP, Social Search or Priority Messaging Likely product categories: Real Estate Healthcare Music Banking Telecoms Insurance

Technological Enablers

Various elements of infrastructure are required to allow buyers to identify and define themselves, then to make a specification and then for those specifications to be presented at scale to potential sellers.

Sellers markets are as old as history and are well established (from the Bazaar to the Shopping Mall to the Aggregator Website). Buyers markets are more rare – confined to specific transaction types such as stock trading, commodities markets and currency speculation.

An obstacle to process in this space will be the legacy IT systems that many organizations rely on, providing a degree of inflexibility that will inhibit the effective operation a Fourth Party system.


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