Month: December 2011

Will 2012 be the Year of VRM?

Mark Sage of CustomerThink lists “You and your data” (and, notably, VRM) among “three key loyalty trends” he sees coming in 2012. Nice to see. The specifics:

Consumers are also gaining more and more power with the UK government for example recently announcing that they plan to give consumers more control over their data by releasing it back to them. In describing this they say:-

“[It] will give consumers increasing access to their personal data in a portable, electronic format. [..] Individuals will then be able to use this data to gain insights into their own behaviour, make more informed choices about products and services, and manage their lives more efficiently.”

Outside of government, some of the biggest collectors of personal data are loyalty programmes and so I’d fully expect them to begin taking part in these kinds of initiatives, allowing members to use their data to better understand their buying habits, but also to unlock more relevant offers and promotions on their terms. Indeed, many of the companies signing up to the UK midata initiative are companies with their own loyalty programmes. Generically termed VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) or PIDM (Personal Identity Management), I think 2012 will be the year when we start to see this trend gaining ground.

VRM, we should make clear, is not about company loyalty programs (though it can certainly help those), but about individuals becoming both independent from vendors and better able to engage with vendors in the customers’ own ways, using their own tools.

Data will be a big part of that. But the main purpose of managing one’s own data is not just to understand one’s own buying habits or to unlock offers. It is to manage one’s own life and one’s own relationships with other entities, including companies and governments.

For more about VRM, see the lists of principles, goals and tools here. If you think your favorite tool for individual independence and engagement should be listed, let us know. This is the very last day you’ve got a chance to get it listed in the book I’m coming out with in May.

Bonus link.

GoDaddy VRooMed?

GoDaddy CEO Warren Adelman says “We listened to our customers. GoDaddy no longer supports SOPA.” (Here’s the GoDaddy blog post.)

Lauren Weinstein says that’s not the same as opposing SOPA: “they’re the same ethically vacuous firm as always, with their public facade changing like a chameleon, blowing in the wind of Internet public opinion.”

I still see it as a good sign when a company in a direct personal service business changes its mind because its customers made clear that change was required.

What I’d like to know now is what GoDaddy customers said to the company personally. (Not just that customers pulled their accounts in protest.) When I know that Warren Adelman and the company turned around because of direct personal pressure, in real conversation with paying customers who wished to remain so — and not just because of negative PR or customers bailing — then I’ll be glad to call it a full VRM move by customers.

Some links:

Say howdy to Insidr and Glome

One is , which is “rewriting the Rules of ” by giving you a way to “connect directly to real people who have worked in big companies and are willing to help when the company can’t or won’t.” You post a question, offer a bounty for an answer, and get an answer from an insider at the company. So far those include (copied and pasted from Insidr’s about/learn page):

I asked a question regarding , with which I’ve flown .82 million miles so far. The question had nothing to do with customer service, but rather with looking for a connection inside the airline, with whom I might talk about publishing a book of aerial photos (such as these) taken from United planes, timed to publish about the time  come into service. It’s a long shot, but a fun one.

I think Insidr qualifies as a fourth party (as described this blog post and this ProjectVRM wiki article). That is, one working primarily for the customer, rather than for the vendor. That Insidr is paid by places it on the side of customers financially, which is significant — and novel, in an age when most new Web-based businesses still look for revenue coming from sellers “targeting” customers rather than customers expressing their own intentions, in their own ways.

about Insidr. (I was given a heads-up that TechCrunch might call to get the VRM angle, but that didn’t happen.)

[Update...] I spoke with Antony Brydon, Insidr’s CEO. He made it clear that the term “Insider” is not limited to people working for the company, and in fact is refers to the collection of experts who are proximal to the company rather than inside the company — though it might include those too. He also begs our indulgence of Insidr’s learning process. They’re just getting started.

The other new VRM entry is .  “Stop being a product” says the main copy on the index page. @glomeinc‘s Twitter page says,

Glome Inc@GlomeInc Helsinki, Finland
Media startup aiming to change the way advertisers connect with customers online. Buzzwords: VRM, User controlled data, online privacy, open API:s

The first and only tweet so far there says,

Glome Inc. is officially founded. Stay tuned for private beta invite instructions. #glomeinc #vrm #privacy #changetheworld

I tweeted back,

@GlomeInc Tell us more about your #VRMwork. DM me if you need to keep it private for now.

We’ll see how that goes. Meanwhile, it’s good to know that both companies fly the #VRM flag.

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