Month: March 2010

‘RM alignments

In the next several months we’ll start seeing VRM getting respect as a counterpart to CRM — in some cases with a social angle as SRM and sCRM get into the mix. For more on that, here’s Bob Pike on Social Customer Relationship Management:

Forrester predicts the era of Social Commerce, the future of the social Web as I see it, starts to embrace a corporate philosophy and supporting infrastructure that migrates away from CRM and even sCRM to one of Social Relationship Management or SRM. This will usher in the fifth era as observed by Forrester. And, SRM is also acutely cognizant of and in harmony with VRM (Vendor Relationship Management).

VRM is the opposite of CRM, capsizing the concept of talking at or marketing to customers and shifting the balance of power in relationships from vendors to consumers. As such, systems are created to empower consumer participation and sentiment and improve products and services with every engagement.

Should we think the unthinkable and finally adopt a set of new rules which are aligned to actually what is happening this new world of social collaboratio online? Yes I do think so.

And here’s John Lewis on The Manageability of Information:

Nowadays the science of selling has gone much further with ‘relationships selling” as distinct from “transactional selling” and is even being inverted in the form of “soft selling” or should that now be “soft buying”.  It goes beyond selling, organisations have CRM (Customer Relationship Management) processes and systems and are now starting to realise that they need to provide their customers with access to VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) processes and, possibly, systems. There had always been some people who understood it, but there was a development of a general realisation that “selling” and other related areas are manageable!

I believe here John is talking about VRM in a B2B context, where it has been used for many years. Still, it speaks to the need for customers to interact with companies that have transparent and available processes.

Wanted: User-usable data

For years makers of many kinds of goods and services have provided means for them to monitor how things are going. Now they need to include us in on the action, for the simple reason that we can do it better than they can. That’s the point of Driving by the Numbers, Robin Chase‘s recent op-ed in The New York Times.

Says Robin,

…sometimes the solution to a safety problem is simply more transparency. Indeed, there is a relatively easy solution that would help identify problems before they affect thousands of cars, or kill and injure dozens of people: allow drivers and carmakers real-time access to the data that’s already being monitored.

Most cars now undergo regular state emissions and safety inspections. A mechanic plugs an electronic reader into what’s known as the onboard diagnostic unit, a computer that sits under your dashboard, monitoring data on acceleration, emissions, fuel levels and engine problems. The mechanic can then download the data to his own computer and analyze it.

Because carmakers believe such diagnostic data to be their property, much of it is accessible only by the manufacturer and authorized dealers and their mechanics. And even then, only a small amount of the data is available — most cars’ computers don’t store data, they only monitor it. Though newer Toyotas have data recorders that gather information in the moments before an air bag is deployed, the carmaker has been frustratingly vague about what kind of data is collected (other manufacturers have been more forthcoming).

But what if a car’s entire data stream was made available to drivers in real time? You could use, for instance, a hypothetical “analyze-my-drive” application for your smart phone to tell you when it was time to change the oil or why your “check engine” light was on. The application could tell you how many miles you were getting to the gallon, and how much yesterday’s commute cost you in time, fuel and emissions. It could even tell you, say, that your spouse’s trips to the grocery store were 20 percent more fuel-efficient than yours.

Carmakers could collect the data, too. Aberrant engine and driving behavior would leap out of the carmakers’ now-large data set…

For those companies, keeping that data to themselves — in fact, not realizing in the least that the largest body of intelligence about their own goods and services is out there among the actual users of them — is mainframe thinking at its worst.

In 1943, Thomas Watson of IBM famously said, “”I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” That’s the kind of thinking that IBM (which invented the PC as most of us know it, in 1982) gave up generations ago. But it’s still alive and well in big companies of nearly all other kinds.

What I’d like to know is if there are any hacks on Toyota’s or Honda’s or any car maker”s data reporting systems. Betcha there is. If not, let’s attack this from our side of the fence, rather than the car makers’ — or even the governent’s. (They’re even less likely to get it right.) To wrap that case, here’s Robin’s bottom line:

Cars would continue to break down and even cause accidents, but it wouldn’t take a Congressional hearing to figure out why.

Hat tip to Bart Stevens of iChoosr for sharing Robin’s piece with fellow VRooMers.

VRM on the CRM radar

From the last paragraph the latest post by in the : “Stay tuned for the May issue of , which will focus on vendor relationship management (VRM). You’ll hear about tools (such as mobile coupons) that provide customers with both independence from vendors and better ways of engaging with vendors. It’s a cool concept that I look forward to share more about.”

I talked with Laura last November, and believe Iain Henderson did too. It’ll be interesting to see how the story comes out.

The Mine! Project at BarCamp Antwerp

The Mine! Project is closer to my personal ambitions for VRM — developing base-level open source tools that give individuals both independence and constructive means for engaging with others in the world — than any other project I know. It’s also living proof that a user can get geeks to do what she or he wants. The user in this case is Adriana Lukas, and the geeks begin with Alec Muffett and fan out from there.

You can see some of those geeks sharing their work and progress at BarCamp Antwerp yesterday, in these videos:

The Mine! Project at BarCamp Antwerp 2010.

Now I’ll see if I succeeded in embedding video, something I rarely do. [Later...] Nope, failed. Still, follow that link to learn about the project and its progress from Alec & friends.

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