You’re The Man Now, Dog!

SeanTake three things:

  • An image file
  • A short sound clip
  • A line of text

Put them all together. Shaken, not stirred.

What you have is You’re The Man Now, Dog!, a great example of co-creation. (The name of the site comes from the Sean Connery line here.) From the site:

YTMND, an acronym for “You’re The Man Now, Dog!”, is a website community that centers around the creation of YTMNDs, which are pages featuring a juxtaposition of a single image, optionally animated or tiled, along with large zooming text and a looping sound file. YTMND is also the general term used to describe any such site.

That’s what it is. Here’s why it is:

“YTMND is a site created for the purpose of furthering the creativity of its users. It stems from an idea that, using sound, and image, and some text, the users can convey a point, funny, political, or otherwise, to the general media.”

Simple. And spot-on.

Bonus link: Axl Rose meets Finding Nemo (yes, you read that correctly)

That Customer Was PWND!

Andrew Boyd nails what’s wrong with the current vendor-centric view of customers and CRM, and accurately describes the sorry state of the viewpoint of many organizations. Andrew:

“Leads are owned by marketing, prospects are owned by sales and customers are owned by accounting — unless there is a problem and then they are owned by support, or unless the company is trying to sell them more stuff, then it is sales or marketing again.”


By the way, there is a phenomenal conversation going on at the CRM2.0 wiki, which was set up by colleague and CRMGuru Paul Greenberg. Check it out.

Social Networking Comes To Healthcare

Was just sent a pointer to a solid article from the Wall Street Journal, “Social Networking Comes To Healthcare.” The key ‘graph:

“The social-networking revolution is coming to health care, at the same time that new Internet technologies and software programs are making it easier than ever for consumers to find timely, personalized health information online. Patients who once connected mainly through email discussion groups and chat rooms are building more sophisticated virtual communities that enable them to share information about treatment and coping and build a personal network of friends.”

Interestingly, most of the social networking connections cited were of the patient-to-patient variety, with minimal mention of the patient-provider relationship. That is a definite opportunity area.

(Hat Tip: Charles Donovan)

TypePad Menus (And Getting Rid Of That Annoying Border)

Have been doing some development work for a business blogging customer of ours, and again need to send out mad props (that’s what the kids these days say, right?) to John T. Unger and his Typepad Hacks site. A treasure trove!

One very useful bit…putting in active menus into the header. Here’s how to do it:

How to add a horizontal menu to a TypePad blog

And other thing…want to get rid of that annoying border around your TypePad blog’s header? One way to do it is to make the “background” of the header graphic a complementary color to the header graphic, like this. However, John pointed out a little trick that can just make the border simply go away. In the Design tab of your blog, you will see a link that says “Edit Custom CSS” (n.b. it looks like you need to be a Pro member to do this). In the Custom CSS frame, simply put this little chunk of code (“edit the height attribute and the background-image: url, of course,” John adds):

/* banner image */

height: 110px;
background-position: 0px 0px;
background-repeat: no-repeat;
text-align: left;

Poof! Border-be-gone.

Gracias, hermano!

More On Vendor Relationship Management (VRM)

This post continues where this one, which gives a bit of background on VRM, leaves off.

In a December, 2006 SuitWatch piece in LinuxJournal, Doc Searls writes that there are a number of parts of VRM, which include:

  • Data Independence – “Individuals needs to own and control their own data, independent of vendors”
  • Customer-Centricity – “Customers are at the center — at the inside — and relate outward toward any number of vendors”
  • Reputation, Intention and Preference – “All three bear on relationships, and there is an enormous amount that can be done with each of them.”

Of these three areas, the one that I see as key (and, of course, the hardest one to implement) will be the adoption of true customer-centricity in the marketplace. Why is this the hardest problem? Because, although there are some technical components, this is much more of a “soft” problem, one of culture and mindset, rather than a problem of RFCs and technology. Doc continues that we need to think about:

“…the inside-out nature of relationships between customers and vendors. That is, customers are at the center — at the inside — and relate outward toward any number of vendors. The idea is not to take the old top-down few-to-many pyramid of vendor-controlled markets and turn it upside down, with customers now on top. Instead, we equip customers with the means to function in more ways inside marketplaces, at the center of relationships with any number of vendors.”

With this, I strongly agree.

However, one of the other areas of concentration that Doc proposes is the idea of a “personal RFP.” On the concept of the personal RFP, Joe Andrieu writes:

“I think what we are actually seeing is more of allowing people a way to post a personal digital RFP… which will require some sort of shared API. Interestingly, corporations could also use a digital RFP, since it is all the same to the marketspace.”

There is also now talk of creating a Firefox plugin for personal RFPs. (In fact, there’s already the beginning of a spec.)

To this, I need to say “whoa, cowboys.” Take a step back from the keyboard. There are two reasons for this.

Reason One: Immediately diving into code is going to take us exactly down the same path that CRM did, and focus on the technology, instead of the people.

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. It’s simply a different way to do transactions. (My thoughts on the “transactions to communities” path here, from August, 2005.)

Focusing on the transaction alone doesn’t help.

Reason Two: Before diving into creating a new technical spec, step outside and look around a bit.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. A lot of this work has been done, and can be leveraged. Electronic connection between buyers and sellers has been going on for a long time, first via EDI, then using these fancy Interwebs and XML. For example, RosettaNet has been working on these problems for nearly a decade. (Disclosure: I served on the RosettaNet solution provider Board of Directors back in the day.)

For example, what is being described in the Firefox plugin spec is, essentially, a request for a quote from a series of providers. Well, hey, lookie-here!

Partner Interface Process 3A1: Request Quote

“The ‘Request Quote’ Partner Interface Process™ (PIP®) enables a buyer to request a product quote from a provider, and a provider to respond with either a quote or a referral. If referred to another provider, the buyer may request a quote from that party. The prices and product availability reflected in a quote may be influenced by an existing or potential relationship between a buyer and provider.


Quotes may:

  • Involve one or more items, fixed price quotes or negotiated prices, configurable or stand alone product.
  • Include freight and tax information.
  • Be reconciled with purchase orders.
  • Support ship from stock and debit credit claims.

Should this transaction not complete successfully, the requesting partner executes PIP0A1, ‘Notification of Failure.'”

I want to be clear. I’m not saying that we don’t need technology to do this. I actually feel that technology is critical to making this work. But cart-something-something-horse. Let’s talk to some customers (hey…that’s us!) and find out what’s really needed, and what we want the capital-R-relationships to look like before we start coding.

So, in other words, I’m very hopeful for the direction that VRM is going. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and helping out in any and every way possible. At the same time, I’m going to be that nagging voice of the human customer, doing my best to ensure that the effort doesn’t solely dive into a series of technical warrens.

I’m going to do my best to ask us all to continually remind each other what brought us here in the first place.

Mavericks: Tick…Tick…Tick…

originally uploaded by deborah lattimore.

Yes, that little speck in the shot is a surfer.

Half Moon Bay is the home of Mavericks, one of the most grueling big wave rides on the planet. The break is just up the coast from our place, about four miles or so.

Every year, the big wave contest “window” opens up on January 1st, and the 24 surfers who are going to compete go on call. What that means is the contest organizers watch the waves, and swell, and weather patterns, and when everything aligns just so, the contest goes live. At that point, the 24 chosen ones have just 24 hours to get to Half Moon Bay from wherever they are on the planet, get into their wetsuits, and ride the giants.

More on Mavericks here.