I’m not sure I like “4th party” as a description. We spent way too much time at the VRM West Coast Workshop wrangling over the naming of firs, second and third. But when you get past all that, this key idea is really something big:
VRM is about enabling the first party. It is also about building fourth-party user-driven (and within that, customer-driven) services, which make use of first-party enablement.
Fourth parties will provide many services for first parties. In fact, VRM should grow large new fourth party businesses, and give new work to large old businesses in the same categories. (Banks, brokers and insurance companies come to mind.) Native enablements, however, need to live with first parties alone, even if fourth parties provide hosting services for those enablements.
Fourth parties also need to be substitutable. They need service portability, just as the customer needs data portability between fourth (and other) party services. That way whatever they can provide can be swapped out by the user, if need be.
The combination of service portability and data portability doesn’t just put the user in charge, it also makes the data better. Companies should be very interested in that.