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POEMs in the office

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Jeremy needs to staff a project for this evening, pull together a range of resources for a sales event, then set up a new business opportunity. He will do it all while his coffee brews.



Marked to market

Acme Insights is a small consumer research company within a group of US states that have initiated a system of POEMs (Public Official E-Markets). Jeremy does 12 hours for them each week as Project Manager. They have a rolling arrangement with him that allows POEMs to fit his weekly hours for them around other work opportunities the system finds him. As long as he remains with Acme he has every incentive to do a good job, his POEMs track record of reliability is dependent on it. But he has plenty of other options in the local market if they treat him badly.

His first task today is to complete the company’s research into a client’s reformulated pancake syrup. The weather this afternoon is surprisingly good; he wants 12 interviewers at a suburban metro station to catch commuters and get them taste-testing. That needs to happen at rush hour, starting at 5PM. It’s now 3PM.

The company has a pool of 30 POEMs workers approved for this kind of survey. Each has been trained and approved by management. There is no guarantee of work, and each of them will likely be in dozens of pools with other employers in any sector. To create the pool, POEMs was told to find workers within 4 miles radius who had reached at least POEMs Grade 3 (of 6) reliability with at least 10 bookings for work classed as “customer facing”. Ensuring proximity, track-record and relevance de-risked investment in their paid training. Managers can also mark each worker with a Acme ranking. The ones they rate highest come top of their searches.

Logging into POEMs, Jeremy enters his requirements for today. He stipulates the role, which Acme created, along with its fixed hourly pay rate. There are enough sellers in this market to justify a Stored Availability display. The system shows him how many of Acme’ pool of “Consumer Surveyors” are available, and willing to travel to the required location, each hour. It will do it for the next ten weeks.

This grid contains worrying information. Only 8 of the pool are available from 5PM to 7PM. Numbers are little better later in the week. Jeremy consults the POEMs’ role record and sees, 14 of the 30 have their Acme role set at inactive, probably because they are getting better pay or conditions elsewhere. The rest are not available at his times of need or are already booked by other employers

He makes a note to tell tomorrow’s board meeting they need to consider training more workers for the pool. Or, POEMs makes it easy for them to push out an enhanced pay rate which should persuade members of the original batch to turn the role back on.

Once he selects his hours for tonight’s survey, POEMs gives him the 8 individuals’ names and details. To broaden everyone’s options, it has also found 22 individuals who are qualified market researchers, available when required and willing to travel to the location, but not currently in Acme’ approved pool.

The rate at which these top-up workers will do today’s booking is dynamically calculated by applying parameters of this assignment (distance to be travelled from home, period of notice, length of booking and so on) to each person’s personal pricing rules. These people come from multiple labor market intermediaries: Acme chooses not to be a direct employer of its researchers. The mark-up set by each has been built in.

Jeremy will need to pull in interviewers from outside the company’s approved pool to complete tonight’s pancake assignment. He browses profiles of some of the more provenly reliable individuals and starts assembling his list.


Having picked his 12 researchers, POEMs prompts him for reporting instructions. It deducts the total cost from Acme’s account and transfers it to escrow. Then it contacts each booked worker however that person wishes and ensures confirmation, standing by to find replacements in the unlikely event one of these individuals, each strongly incentivized to maintain their track record, doesn’t confirm.


Chain transactions

Jeremy’s next task: arrange an event for a group of potential customers in a distant city. He needs to rent a meeting room, a projector that will have to be transported to the room, catering for the prospective clients, a receptionist and travel for Acme’s team. He builds the requirements on POEMS.

POEMs’ insiders call this a “Chain Transaction”. The system pulls resources from diverse sellers across multiple markets into customized packages to meet a buyer’s needs.

Packages with a padlock symbol are underwritten by POEMs’ insurance markets. The sellers are reliable enough to attract finance that will be used to replace any part of the chain should one or more default. It’s all seamlessly built into the pricing.

He selects a package then tweaks the travel component. Instead of the minibus and driver POEMs found, he books a “Work Truck”; a Recreational Vehicle tricked out as a mobile office. It’s a nascent market in POEMs, started when entrepreneurial sellers started offering the service on its loosely-structured bulletin boards. Like a trending hashtag, POEMs spotted the listings and automatically began formalizing that sector; bringing it into the directory of sub-markets, offering it to a franchisee to develop, aggregating data, seeing which mechanisms were popular with sellers and pulling their offerings into chain transactions. Early sellers are charging high rates, but the productivity gain for Jeremy’s bosses makes it worthwhile.

As he clicks to book the entire set of resources, he reflects on his competitors outside the POEMs’ states also setting up a sales event; calling round hotels to evaluate their packages, looking for office equipment rental websites, emailing staffing agencies and getting bids from caterers after explaining their needs. At each step the competitor has sight of only a fraction of the sellers who might meet their needs.

Other users tap POEMs to pull together interlocking chains of resources required for; funerals, house moves, harvesting on a farm, shopfitting, surgery and countless other multi-resource purchases.


Creating an intervention

Final task before his mid-afternoon coffee: set up an investment proposal for approval by the board. His employers have a unique understanding of market research and their local economy. It gives them an edge over hedge funds, private equity and other lumbering non-localized forms of investment. POEMs encourages ACME to exploit that advantage.

Today’s opportunity? An extensive apartment development is soon to open in their city center. Management have realized its occupants with bring local demographics into line with forecast national averages; creating a mecca for market researchers. Acme can’t own this opportunity. As soon as they advertised it, competitors would set up shop in town. But they can profit by extending their training to create a wider pool of interviewers ready for a local explosion in research activity.

POEMs runs hundreds of thousands of market interventions. Jeremy calls up the screen to add another:

Focus of an intervention can be buyers, sellers, intermediaries or skills. For example; public agencies have multiple interventions to support disadvantaged work-seekers or certified carbon neutral businesses. But Jeremy’s is about a specific type of work and increasing the numbers involved. Other interventions aim to decrease numbers. For example; if a region is dependent on a manufacturing plant currently buying a lot of lathe operators’ hours but soon to be shuttered, government workforce officials may start an intervention to reduce numbers dependent on that role by funding individualized reskilling.

Jeremy is again using POEMs rankings to de-risk investment. Charities will often invest in those at the bottom of the POEMs’ ladder, but he needs a return. There’s no point training people who are already selling all their available hours so he has a Utilization threshold.  And he’s clear on the additional skills of people who Acme will invest in.

Now he needs to specify what they will offer those target people. And what will be demanded in return.

To stop anyone just signing up for paid training and then not trying to earn as a result, there are requirements that anyone trained maintain at least 10 hours average availability. This new skill will enhance employability so Acme will want 5% of each beneficiary’s earnings in customer service roles, which include market research, as their profit. That’s a broad demand, a lot of users’ filters will ensure this intervention doesn’t even appear on their Opportunity Feed. But Jeremy can change it to just a percentage of market research earnings later and re-launch the intervention. He’s testing the market at this point.

Now he needs to set parameters for his intervention.

He wants to avoid a saturated market, so there’s a cap of 100 new market researchers to be trained. The company will test the waters with $27,200.

Wall Street algorithms hunt through POEMs’ for-profit interventions looking to buy-in to the best returns. The system encourages that with investment indices, after-markets, funds-of-funds and futures. Will Acme allow buy-in to the fund they’re setting up for this intervention? They will, but they charge 12.5% of returns for their local insight and oversight.

Now there has to be some display content for potential beneficiaries.

It’s up to Jeremy whether POEMs is allowed to make this fund public on its directory of interventions. Doing so would help Wall Street money find it. But he decides to only let targeted workers know about it until 40 have signed up. That gives him a chance to tweak settings for offers to later beneficiaries while Acme’s fund is still under the radar. The intervention will go to the board for a director’s approval tomorrow and should be live by lunchtime.


Evening tied

As he sips coffee, Jeremy gets a personal alert from POEMs. One of the three caregivers he and his wife trust to look after his disabled step grandson is available this evening. And he and his spouse both earned over average in POEMs this week. It’s time for a celebratory date night.

They enjoy trialling local restaurants booked through POEMs. As with every sector on POEMs, that market is open to any seller who meets legal requirements. And there is no cost to market entry. An enthusiastic amateur chef used POEMs to get trained and certified in food hygiene. On random evenings he now sells seats at three tables for two in his living room. Orders close at 4PM so there’s time to shop and cook in line with tonight’s customers’ needs.

POEMs allows Jeremy and his wife to run pooled accounts, he can see when she will finish work and wants to surprise her. As he heads out to set up for rush hour pancake research, he taps his phone to put funds into escrow, confirming one of the three tables tonight. He also books the caregiver and blocks his wife, Yvonne’s, availability for the rest of the evening.


→ IMPACT: Infrastructure for opportunity