VRM stands for Vendor Relationship Management. VRM tools provide customers with both independence from vendors and better ways of engaging with vendors. The same tools can also support individuals' relations with schools, churches, government entities and other kinds of organizations.
To vendors, VRM is the customer-side counterpart of CRM (or Customer Relationship Management). VRM tools provide customers with the means to bear their side of the relationship burden. They relieve CRM of the perceived need to "capture," "acquire," "lock in," "manage," and otherwise employ the language and thinking of slave-owners when dealing with customers. With VRM operating on the customer's side, CRM systems will no longer be alone in trying to improve the ways companies relate to customers. Customers will be also be involved, as fully empowered participants, rather than as captive followers.
VRM is part of a larger picture as well. Perhaps the best name and description for that larger picture is Life Management Platforms, coined by Martin Kuppinger of Kuppinger Cole. He describes them this way: "Life Management Platforms will change the way individuals deal with sensitive information like their health data, insurance data, and many other types of information – information that today frequently is paper-based or, when it comes to personal opinions, only in the mind of the individuals. They will enable new approaches for privacy- and security-aware sharing of that information, without the risk of losing control of that information... At KuppingerCole we expect and predict that Life Management Platforms, with related standards, protocols, business models, applications, etc., will be the one technology driven component that will have the strongest influence on our everyday life (and, on the other side, on enterprise infrastructures and the Internet architecture) for the next 10 years."
VRM development work is based on the belief that free customers are more valuable than captive ones to themselves, to vendors, and to the larger economy. To be free
- Customers must enter relationships with vendors as independent actors.
- Customers must be the points of integration for their own data.
- Customers must have control of data they generate and gather. This means they must be able to share data selectively and voluntarily.
- Customers must be able to assert their own terms of engagement.
- Customers must be free to express their demands and intentions outside of any one company's control.
In the "Markets Are Relationships" chapter of the 10th Anniversary edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto, Doc Searls writes this about the goals of VRM efforts:
- Provide tools for individuals to manage relationships with organizations. These tools are personal. That is, they belong to the individual in the sense that they are under the individual's control. They can also be social, in the sense that they can connect with others and support group formation and action. But they need to be personal first.
- Make individuals the collection centers for their own data, so that transaction histories, health records, membership details, service contracts, and other forms of personal data are no longer scattered throughout a forest of silos.
- Give individuals the ability to share data selectively, without disclosing more personal information than the individual allows.
- Give individuals the ability to control how their data is used by others, and for how long. At the individual's discretion, this may include agreements requiring others to delete the individual's data when the relationship ends.
- Give individuals the ability to assert their own terms of service, reducing or eliminating the need for organization-written terms of service that nobody reads and everybody has to "accept" anyway.
- Give individuals means for expressing demand in the open market, outside any organizational silo, without disclosing any unnecessary personal information.
- Make individuals platforms for business by opening the market to many kinds of third party services that serve buyers as well as sellers
- Base relationship-managing tools on open standards and open APIs (application program interfaces). This will support a rising tide of activity that will lift an infinite variety of business boats plus other social goods.
These are ideal characteristics of VRM tools:
- VRM tools are personal. As with hammers, wallets, cars and mobile phones, people use them as individuals,. They are social only in secondary ways.
- VRM tools help customers express intent. These include preferences, policies, terms and means of engagement, authorizations, requests and anything else that’s possible in a free market, outside any one vendor’s silo or ranch.
- VRM tools help customers engage. This can be with each other, or with any organization, including (and especially) its CRM system.
- VRM tools help customers manage. This includes both their own data and systems and their relationships with other entities, and their systems.
- VRM tools are substitutable. This means no source of VRM tools can lock users in.
VRM Development Work
From services to software, from concepts to working code, VRM projects are cropping up all over the world. See the VRM Development Work page for a partial list of current VRM development efforts.
Conference Call archive and audio links can be found at the Community Portal page.
Also see Events page. ProjectVRM events take place once or twice per year:
- European Identity and Cloud Conference, Munich, April 17-20. Craig Burton, Phil Windley Drummond Reed, Kim Cameron, Doc Searls and other VRM'ers will be there
- Intention Economy Mashup Event London, Innovation Warehouse, 1 East Poultry Avenue, London. EC1A 9PT 4:30-9:30pm, Monday, 23 April Put on by Tony Fish, Sam Sethi and Iain Henderson. Named after Doc's new book, which will be almost out then. Doc will speak there.
- VRM and CRM Inter-op London 2012 London , EC1A 9PT Tuesday, April 24, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT) Hosted by Iain Henderson, with a special invite to CRM professionals.
- IIW14 Internet Identity Workshop #14, Mountain View, CA, May 1-3. The venerable unconference where there are many VRM breakout sessions.
- Are Free Customers More Valuable Than Captive Ones?, by Doc Searls at South by Southwest Interactive, Austin, Texas, March 9-13.
- STL Partners Executive Brainstorm, San Francisco, March 27-28.
- Pre-IIW VRM workshop at Ericsson, 200 Holger Way (Zanker & 237), San Jose, CA 95134, 9am-5pm April 30. Our usual meeting, with a special welcome for newbies.
- IIW #12, May 3-5, Mountain View, CA
- Conversational Commerce Conference, February 2-3, San Francisco
- IMPACT/2011, March 22-23, Salt Lake City, UT
- VRM Gathering at SXSW Interactive 2011
- IIW XII (2011-A) May 3-5, 2011, Mountain View, CA
- IIW XIII (2011-B) October 18-20, 2011, Mountain View, CA]
- VRM+CRM 2010 August 26-27 Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
- VRooM Leadership Workshop took place on 31 Oct * 1 Nov in Mountain View, CA
- VRM East Coast Workshop 2009 (VRooM 2009) took place on 12-13 October at Harvard University
- VRM at SXSW 2009 were meetings during SXSW in March 2009, Austin, TX
- VRM West Coast Workshop 2009 took place May 15-16, 2009 in Palo Alto, CA.
- VRM2008 took place in Munich on 21/22 April 2008
- VRM Workshop 2008 took place in July 2008 at Harvard University
VRM Hub is a series of monthly meetings in London.
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And we encourage you to use the hashtag #VRM when blogging about the topic.