I was overheard to have said…

Nice interview with Dan Levy of Sparksheet:

From Part I:

What opportunities does the widespread adoption of mobile smartphones present for VRM?

This is the limitless sweet spot for VRM.

Humans are mobile animals. We were not built only to sit at desks and type on machines, or even to drive cars. We were built to walk and talk before we did anything else.

This is why mobile devices at their best serve as extensions of ourselves. They enlarge our abilities to deal with the world around us, with each other, and with the organizations we relate to. This especially applies to companies we do business with.

Right now we are at what I call the “too many apps” stage of doing this. Every store, every radio station, every newspaper and magazine wants to build its own app. At this early stage in the history of mobile development we need lots and lots of experimenting and prototyping, so having so many apps (where in lots of cases one would do) is fine.

But as time goes on we’re going to want fewer apps and better ways of dealing with multiple entities. For example, we’ll want one easy way to issue a personal RFP, or to store and selectively share personal data on an as-needed basis.

We won’t want our health data in five different clouds, each with its own app. We may have it in one cloud, for example, much as most of us currently have our money in one bank. But we’ll also need for that data to be portable, and the services substitutable.

From Part II:

I want to ask you about privacy, which is an important part of the VRM discussion. We want businesses to recognize our past interactions and treat us in a personalized way, but we’re also a little creeped out when it happens. So how do you see people using VRM tools to navigate that line in a way that makes us feel safe and well served?

We need our own tools for controlling the way our data and other personal information is used. Some of these tools will be technical. Others will be legal. That means we will have tools for engagement that say right up front how we want our data used and respected. We can do this without changing any laws at all – just the way we engage.

As I said in The Data Bubble, the tide began to turn with the Wall Street Journal article series titled “What They Know,” which is about how companies gather and use data about us. More and more of us are going to be creeped out by assumptions made by marketers about what we might want.

This is also part of what I believe is an advertising bubble. Our tolerance of too much advertising is like the proverbial frog, boiling slowly. The difference is that the frog dies, while we’re going to jump out. Everything has its limits, and we will discover how much advertising we’re willing to suffer, especially as more of it gets too personal.

The holy grail of advertising for many decades has been personalization. If we know enough about a person, the theory goes, we can make perfect bull’s-eye messages for them. But this goal has several problems.

The first problem is that personal advertising is kind of an oxymoron. Advertising has always been something you do for populations, not individuals, even if ads show up in searches by individuals, and advertisers are looking for individual responses.

From the individual’s side, advertising shouldn’t be any more personal than a floor tile. You don’t want the floor tile in a public bathroom to speak into your pants.

In fact, we’ve never liked personalized advertising of the old conventional sort, such as direct mail. We see our name on the envelope and then toss it anyway, most of the time.

The second problem is the belief that it’s actually possible to have perfect information about somebody. It’s not. And where it gets close it gets creepy.

The third problem is that advertising is still guesswork.

We need it, to let lots of customers know what we’ve got. But there should also be more efficient ways for supply and demand to meet and get acquainted – ways in which, for example, individual customers eliminate guesswork by telling vendors exactly what they want. VRM is one answer to that need.

These and other topics will be subjects of a panel I’m on this morning at Slush in Helsinki. Ted Shelton of OpenFirst is moderating.

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