Personal RFP

Terry Heaton just pointed me to . A couple paragraphs:

Any wasting asset–a restaurant table, a seat at a conference, a wasting box of fish–can be efficiently used instead of wasted if we use technology to identify and coordinate buyers.

Synchronizing buyers to improve efficiency and connection is a high-value endeavor, and it’s right around the corner. It will permit mesh products, better conferences, higher productivity and less waste, while giving significant new power to consumers and those that organize them.

Seth’s talking about aggregation here: people getting together in groups to assert demand. This is a good idea, but I don’t think it’s VRM. Not exactly, anyway.

VRM starts with one customer, expressing demand in his or her own ways, rather than in aggregate, or in ways provided by one commercial system or another. (For example, this blog is my own way of publishing. I’m not using Facebook or Twitter or anybody’s system.)

We don’t yet have a single, canonical VRMmmy way to issue a personal RFP, or to have it heard. Rather than explain what a personal RFP is, let’s just lift the whole entry from the page by that title in the ProjectVRM wiki:

Personal RFP

An RFP is a buyer-initiated procurement protocol used by businesses, governments and other large organizations. It is, literally, what the letters stand for: a Request For Proposal. Among a suite of similar TLAs (three letter acronyms) that begin with “Request for” — RFI (Request for Information), RFQ (Request for Quotation), RFT (Request for Tender) — RFP is the most familiar.

RFPs, however, are about as personal as heavy construction. They’re something only big organizations do.

In a VRM context, however, an RFP is something an individual should be able to do in the open marketplace. An individual should be able to issue an RFP that says, for example,

- “I need a stroller for twins in Glasgow in the next three hours.” – “I need a ThinkPad T60 power supply near SFO this afternoon.” – “I need to rent a minivan that seats six and has a roof rack in Salt Lake City next week.” – “I need wheel rims for a 1967 Peugeot 404.” – “I need a 200 watt 220-110 volt power converter in Copenhagen this afternoon”

[Scott Adams calls this] “broadcast shopping.”

The customer can also provide a sum he or she is willing to pay. He or she should be able to do this in a way that is secure and involves minimal disclosure of personal information.

There are many ways this can be done now, through non-substitutable websites and services. Craigs List and eBay both provide means for requesting products. Twitter does too. And Etsy.

What makes a personal RFP a VRM protocol is the substitutability of the services answering the request. The customer should be able to express demand in the open marketplace rather than only within a single intermediary’s silo or walled garden.

Personal RFPs can be thought of as a form by which demand advertises to supply, rather than vice versa. It involves no guesswork about what the customer wants, or whether there is money on the table.

As matters currently stand, there is an enormous sum of demand — such as the RFPs mentioned above — that can result in MLOTT (Money Left On The Table) if the supply side fails to hear the demand and complete a sale. There is no equivalent of the RFP, RFI and RFQ for individuals. Yet the demand exists. Money is there. What we need is the table.

That table is a set of protocols, rituals and systems for routing requests from demand to supply, and responses back. Setting up that table is a primary challenge for VRM.

There are sites that do this. RedBeacon is one. But can we imagine issuing a personal RFP without an intermediary like RedBeacon?

We’ve visited this question before. Wondering what we’ve learned in the (nearly) two years since then.

1 Comment

  1. Love this, Doc. I think Seth’s on the same vibe, and that intrigues me. There’s something about this that resonates with my soul, and my sword is yours in these efforts.

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