Over the past couple of months, a groundswell has begun around the concept of VRM*.
This needs to be on your radar.
Although the idea has been around in various incarnations for many, many years (e.g. I was aware of a project called “TEKRAM” — yes, that’s cutely “market” spelled backwards — back in 1999; some thoughts from that epoch are here and here), the infrastructure required and, more importantly, the cultural readiness may finally be here.
What is VRM?: At it’s simplest, it’s turning the idea of selling and marketing TO customers on its head. With VRM, the customer is in charge of the relationship. Not the vendor.
What’s needed for VRM to work?: There are a number of technical things that are needed: a robust way for customers to manage their own online identities without getting trapped in any vendor’s silo, a way for customers to only share the aspects of identity that they want to share with a particular vendor (perhaps anonymously), and a robust way for vendors to interact with those customers. But more importantly than the technical aspects, the cultural shift of actually putting the customer in charge may end up being the largest challenge.
Hasn’t this been done with things like Priceline and LendingTree: Sort of. More on the differences in a future post.
Who else is thinking about this?: Doc has called a number of people who will be involved, including (but not limited to) Mary Rundle, John Clippinger, Dave Winer, Jeremie Miller, Joe Andrieu, Steve Gillmor, Deborah Schultz and myself.
Where can I find out more about VRM?: At the ProjectVRM page
* – No, not CRM (Customer Relationship Management), but its converse, Vendor Relationship Management.