Month: July 2008

Looking back on a forward-moving workshop

I’m up the coast at a nice old-fashioned hotel in Portland, Maine, with my first opportunity to follow up on an outstanding first-ever VRM Workshop. Lots of progress was made on many efforts. Lots of topics came up that surprised and encourged me. VRM and information portablility inside health care, for example.

Here are the pix I shot. Those of you with Flickr notation privileges, please feel free to label people, sessions and so on.

Chris Carfi has some extensive coverage of the worshop here and (especially) here.

So does Mark Scrimshire. In this post he adds, “I believe that The Student-Faculty-Institution inter-relationships could make a great field test for VRM. Harvard would be a great place to test out some of the theories”. Great suggestion. Mark also blogged on VRM and the Medical Home concept.

Sean Bohan streamed much video during the workshop (Alston Bolen was watching), and also pointed to the stream of tweets. I hope some of the recordings show up soon.

Here’s VRM’s own tweetpile.

JP Rangaswami couldn’t make the workshop, but blogged wisely on VRM and related topics while participating vicariously.

Tom Guariello shot a video of my opening talk on Day 2. David Cushman watched it, and advised mobile operators to “sit down first”. (Speaking of mobile operators, here’s my talk about VRM at Mobile Monday in Amsterdam last month.) The Head Lemur calls it “the latest attempt by Doc Searls to bitchslap companies into realizing what Peer to Peer means”. I like the Lemur’s opening graf:

A lot of companies never got the memo that the Internet is a Peer to Peer medium, meaning that anybody with a keyboard, internet access, and a bad attitude has just as much power as a multi million dollar, multi national organization out here. Our cost to publish is less than a round of Golf, and is a hell of a lot faster. Even News organizations haven’t figured out that the 24 hour news cycle has been replaced by the 24 second news cycle.

 InContext approves of the workshop

Blogging from the workshop, Joe Andrieu observes that the social graph is plural.

Gerald Beuchelt says the workshop “helped me quite a bit to sort out how Identity Management and VRM intersect, but also differ in some respect”.

That’s all I have time to blog before showering in our hotel before heading back on the road, as the family goes to a gathering for the next few days here in Maine. More later.

Once again, great job, everybody!

Because principles are good to have.

I’m vetting ten VRM principles here: all grist for next week’s VRM Workshop mill. We’ll be changing these as the workshop approaches, I’m sure.

Note that these apply to management of relations with vendors by customers: the narrowest scope of VRM. The larger topic of relationship managmement (RM) is part of the discussion as well. Obviously there are other relationships — with chuches, clubs, civic organizations, government bodies and so on — where VRM tools apply, but the individual is not a customer. Do we want to broaden things by saying “individual” and “organization” rather than “customer” and “vendor”? I think we’re better off with the former than the latter, but I’m open.

  1. VRM provides tools for customers to manage relationships with vendors. These tools are personal. They can also be social, but they are personal first.
  2. VRM tools are are customer tools. They are driven by the customer, and not under vendor control. Nor to they work only inside any one vendor’s exclusive relationship environment.
  3. VRM tools relate. This means they engage vendors’ systems (e.g. CRM) in ways that work for both sides.
  4. VRM tools support transaction and conversation as well as relationship.
  5. With VRM, customers are the central “points of integration” for their own data.
  6. With VRM, customers control their own data. They control the data they share, and the terms on which that data is shared.
  7. With VRM, customers can assert many things. Among these are requests for products or services, preferences, memberships, transaction histories and terms of service.
  8. There is no limit on the variety of data and data types customers can hold — and choose to share with vendors and others on grounds that the customer controls.
  9. VRM turns the customer, and productive customer-vendor relationships, into platforms for many kinds of businesses.
  10. VRM is based on open standards, open APIs and open code. This will support a rising tide of activity that will lift an infinite variety of business boats, and other social goods.

VRM linkage and thinkage

Adriana Lukas posts insightfully about how we are Reaching the limits of silos, not networks, which she wrote  in response to Noah Brier‘s Metcalfe’s Plateau, to which I also responded with Pulling the scales from our whys. It was fun to find Bob Metcalfe himself (inventor of Ethernet and a fun guy) amongst the commenters, pointing to Metcalfe’s Law recurses down the long tail of social networks, preciently penned two years ago.

Joe Andrieu does some deep VRM diving with More on Level 4 Platforms. On what it means to be open, he writes, “If a single entity or group owns the platform, it isn’t open. If there are barriers preventing users from accessing or developing on the platform, it isn’t open. If you can’t, with reasonable effort, improve the platform itself, it isn’t open.” [Later…] Joe has a good follow up post on user-driven search.

In Predictions: What Technology will Replace, Jeremiah Owyang includes this:

“Outside” Sales teams could be replaced by Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) s where customers define what they want, companies respond.

Bart Stevens points to this excellent piece by John Hagel on the advertising bubble.

Eve Maler says relationships are complicated, and includes good links to follow in the midst.

Ben Laurie says “the next generation of identity management systems and will only flourish if people can freely experiment with it”. VRM needs that.

In e-sourcing place, Alan Buxton posts Have you heard about Vendor Relationship Management? Among other things he says,

The concept is intriguing, but it looks like the project/movement is made up purely of marketers and internet mavens. And looks like the people involved in the project are trying to reinvent from scratch something that corporations have been struggling with for years. There don’t seem to be any people with real experience of being professional vendor managers. If anything the opposite is the case.

I appreciate Alan’s interest, but I also thought that was an erroneous claim, and said so (among other things) in my comment below the post. (It’s #3. Can’t find a direct link.)

In How Do Customers Communicate?, Jay Deragon begins, “The voice of the customer is getting louder, more effective and targeted”, and cites a white paper (that’s behind a highly annoying and bad-CRMmy registration wall, so I won’t link to it) that says, “Customers now have the resources to communicate and interact how they want, when they want, from wherever they want—creating a cultural shift to an always-on, always-connected society.”

Stephen Lewis says “in the end, keeping your business under your hat gets you nowhere”. Unless you’re a criminal like Meyer Lansky, one subject of Steve’s post, and a criminal whose business was by necessity hat-contained. One of my own favorite lines, however, comes from Hyman Roth, the character based on Lansky who was one of Michael Corleone’s unfortunate victims in The Godfather, Part 2. “Hyman Roth always makes money for his partners”, Roth said. He was played by the great actor and teacher Lee Strassberg, nailing an accent that is so perfect for its time and place that it still gives me chills to think about it. (My father had that accent, as did Frank Sinatra and many of the older characters (pronounced “carac-tas”) in The Wizard of Oz.

Anyway, VRM is about customers making partners of companies, and making money for those partners. Among other things.

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