AppMatcher uses an online dating style approach, collecting profile data from users when they register, as well as from service providers, and then "matching" based on the information.
"We ask users to include their industry, company size and department, and providers to fill out a profile indicating things like which industry is the best user of your application, what other industries does your application work well for, and not, which department is your buyer in, are your subscribers in," said Andy Schroepfer, vice president of enterprise strategy, Rackspace.
Based on this information and user search criteria, AppMatcher "identifies those apps that best meet the user’s specifications, often including several that the user may not have known existed," said Schroepfer. "All the other marketplaces are set up as an online catalog, you have to know what you're looking for," said Schroepfer. "There are many applications that are perfect for employees, where the employees don't know what they're looking for or which ones to look for. And if a new application is added that matches your profile is added, AppMatcher emails you, so you shouldn't have to go back and search again."
AppMatcher saves user results to a "Locker," where other employees can examine and comment on selections. AppMatcher also will collect and show comments from people already using listed applications.
"There can be a dozen or more people involved in buying an application," noted Schroepfer. "When all the discussion is through email, chats or in-person meetings, there's no easy way to centralize and summarize opinions." And, Schroepfer said, while there are collaboration tools like Lotus Notes, GoogleGroups, Wikis and social networking sites, "There aren't any specifically for the application decision-making process."
According to RackSpace, AppMatcher is beneficial for SMBs. "For SMBs, this provides a way to discover cloud and other online services you didn't know were available, either in terms of the provider or the function," said Jeffrey M. Kaplan, Managing Director, THINKstrategies, Inc., a strategic consulting company. "And it's another good example of a Facebook-like resource for SMBs and others to take advantage of, so they don't have to build for themselves just for making decisions, and lets them share experiences and capabilities with peers."
There is no charge to be listed or to use AppMatcher. Unlike application marketplaces like GetApp, RackSpace does not currently plan to have premium paid options for AppMatcher. Application providers do not have to be available through Rackspace to be listed in AppMatcher, nor do companies using AppMatcher need to be Rackspace customers.
Currently, noted Schroepfer, about 100 of the providers of the 1,000+ applications available through Rackspace are in the process of registering for AppMatcher, "and everyone we talk to, whether hosted at Rackspace or elsewhere, has said they plan to take the time to register."