VRM linkage and thinkage

In Vendor relationship management: CRM threat or opportunity?, Graham Saad lays out the customer and vendor side advantages of VRM.

John Cass adds to Francine Hardaway’s report on the talk I gave yesterday at There’s a New Conversation. Note my comment in response to Francine’s post as well.

In My Request to Give, Bart Stevens asks about a relbutton scenario:

It could look something like this:

“… I have 2 laptops and 100 USD which I would like to give to a school in Africa …”
Now this is communicated to the smaller NGO’s which now will have “to compete” for these goods.

By doing so, they (the NGO) start to create a new (and hopefully) a more sustainable relationship with the donor.

What do you think, would this idea fly, or is the NGO community to closed, or not ready yet?
And do you know some NGO’s I could contact to discuss the nuts and bolts of such a platform?

Let me know. I want to see such a platform work.

There is a (hopefully) productive back-and-forth between Simon Edhouse, myself and others in response to this post here. For context read Simon’s The Media is the Mess, where he locates a central problem of silos (such as Facebook) in the legacy client-server architecture of the Web, and commercial modeling that has become so deeply associated with The Web that its polycentral model has become normative, and at odds with the Net’s peer-to-peer roots and nature. I believe Simon mischaracterizes VRM as something operating within that model (or typical of it), but I like many of his thoughts about the model itself. As Adriana points out in her analysis of  ‘user-driven’ vs. ‘user-centric’, there are risky mentalities and framings at play, often when we don’t know it.

In If I Ruled the Internet, Molly Metzger correctly calls for poetry as well as code, if we are to make clear what VRM is all about. I have a comment below her post.


  1. Simon Edhouse

    If VRM does not fundamentally operate within the legacy client-server model of the Web, then on what medium does a “personal RFP” flow? A personal preference encoded RFP is a virtual surrogate of that user, and a shopping-cart traveling between sites is a vehicle on that web. (BTW, I am a supporter, but I like to focus on real potential problems rather than get swept up in hype and hubris) Problems as I see them:

    1. GAMING: That RFP is a mighty attractive package to game.

    2. COMPLEXITY: If a user has to send an RFP for every type of commercial mission they want to accomplish, which requests a ‘quote’ which then has many provisos like ‘price, freight, tax, to negotiate and or innumerable other prerequisites, and “Should this transaction not complete successfully, the requesting partner executes PIP0A1, ‘Notification of Failure.'” …well then you have a recipe for considerable congestion and malfunction, as Colin Henderson from ‘Bankwatch’ states:
    “The complexities with VRM related to the various possibilities make the size of VRM almost impossible to imagine.”

    3. JINXING: the publicity around VRM forewarns and attracts the attention of CRM advocates before the mass audience is remotely aware of the idea, i.e. ‘mycustomer.com’ writing editorials with titles like: “Vendor Relationship Management: CRM threat or opportunity?”

    4. ADOPTION: As Christopher Carfi points out: “Remember that little “R” thing in the middle of both CRM and VRM? The one that says “relationship?” Finding a better way to have vendors compete solely on price does not a relationship (or even a conversation) make.

  2. Doc Searls

    Simon, my own idea of a personal RFP has never either a “personal preference”, “a virtual surrogate”, or “a shopping-cart traveling between sites”. Instead I’ve thought of it as a simple notification to the market of an intention to buy X. For example, yesterday I wanted a 220/110 voltage converter here in Amsterdam. I would like to have issued a personal RFP for that, without going to anybody’s silo, and without having to go — or have a surrogate system go — from site to site looking for that kind of device. I want one or more vendors to to respond to my demand for that device.

    How would we do that? I have ideas. Alec Muffett has ideas. Other ideas are out there, but I can’t find them right now because my €22/day hotel connection here in Amsterdam is too slow and flaky, and I have too much else to do.

    But I would like us to take up the challenge of NOT doing the personal RFP within the client-server model of the Web. Can that be done? Got some suggestions?

  3. Simon Edhouse

    Doc, yes it can be done, and do I have suggestions? You bet! That mission among other objectives is exactly my focus. However, I am instinctively wary of opening up this kind of process to broad public scrutiny. (for many many reasons) I just see that as an inherently non-strategic approach. ~ As Geoffry Moore says: “Becoming the de facto standard, can never be reached directly.”

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