VRM and Iammoving.com

VRM is a concept that's been floating around for a while. Evangelized (and perhaps coined) by Doc Searls, it has developed a strong following. In their words:
"VRM, or Vendor Relationship Management, is the reciprocal of CRM or Customer Relationship Management. It provides customers with tools for engaging with vendors in ways that work for both parties.

CRM systems for the duration have borne the full burden of relating with customers. VRM will provide customers with the means to bear some of that weight, and to help make markets work for both vendors and customers — in ways that don't require the former to "lock in" the latter" (from Project VRM)

That definition is still fairly opaque for me.

I find it easier to explain by simple example: Today, Amazon keeps track of all their customers and near-customers (like wish list users, web site visitors, etc.) in a huge database. VRM says that instead, the individual should own information about themselves and make it available to Amazon (and other vendors) as desired.

The database that Amazon keeps contains personal, commercial, demographic and interest information. It's their CRM ("Customer Relationship Management system.) This database is hugely valuable to them as a way to sell stuff but also as a way to market stuff. VRM's perspective is that information actually should be under the explicit control of individuals. They should decide who gets to see it and they should share in the commercial or non commercial value of this information.

VRM is a compelling concept. If VRM intrigues you, here's the ProjectVRM blog, you may want to start following it.

It's not easy to see how it will get built. So since I've gotten interested in VRM, I've been thinking about existing systems and products which might be precursors of VRM.

One site I came across is "iammoving.com". In their words:
"When moving home, notify every organisation of your new address
details. iammoving.com reduces the hassle by avoiding call centres and
the need to visit individual websites." (from Iammoving.com)

I think this service has something to do with VRM. It allows me to control my virtual change of address card, and decide which vendors and other agencies ought to be notified of this fact. Pretty cool, unfortunately only available so far in the UK. (Then again, I am not moving so it's a theoretical negative at least for me :)

What do you think?

Posted on December 8, 2008 and filed under Life, Technology.