ProjectVRM has the immodest ambition of turning business on its head -- for its own good, and for everyone else's as well.
Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, large companies have been working to "capture" and "lock" customers inside what we today call "silos" and "walled gardens." These are the private habitats where customer choices are limited to what the vendor alone can provide. "Relationships" with customers in these habitats are maintained entirely on the vendor's terms, through Customer Relationship Management" systems (CRMs) that work to milk as much money as possible out of customers by limiting rather than liberating customer choices.
ProjectVRM is a new Berkman Center research and development effort that is working to provide customers with tools that provide both independence from vendor lock-in and better ways of engaging with vendors -- on terms and by means that work better for both sides.
The primary theory behind ProjectVRM is that many market problems (including the widespread belief that customer lock-in is a "best practice") can only be solved from the customer side: by making the customer a fully-empowered actor in the marketplace, rather than one whose power in many cases is dependent on exclusive relationships with vendors, by coerced agreement provided entirely by those vendors.