Tag: Adriana Lukas

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.

Event horizons

Photo galleries from the VRM West Coast Workshop and VRooM Boston 2009 are up. Tim Hwang has an excellent follow up (Geek Insurance! — go read it) to the Getting Personal With Data panel, which turned (as we had intended) into a round-table discussion involving everybody in the room (including Adriana Lukas, via live video from London) that lasted two hours.

In discussions since VRooM, some of us have started thinking that a better approach to VRM events is to pick single topics (health care, governance, search, VRM+CRM, personal RFP, personal informatics, whatever) and have separate workshops on those. Or to weigh in on VRM-related topics at other events, as we’ve done all along at the Internet Identity Workshops — or as Keith Hopper did for VRM at Public Media Camp. Or both.

The problem is that VRM itself is extremely broad, and still lacks working code that applies to all VRM topics. In the absence of that code — some personal tool as universal in the digital world as the wallet is in the physical one — we end up scattered across many topics. This isn’t bad, but it might not be the best way to get traction in any one topic.

Thoughts?

Hot Fodder for next week’s VRM Workshop

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Neil Davey of MyCustomer.com, a major voice in the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) field. The results are up at Doc Searls: Customers will use ID data to force CRM change. Much of what Neil sources for that piece come from my new chapter (“Markets are Relationships”) in the latest edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto (Now with 30% more clues!). In that chapter, Neil says,

Searls sticks the boot into customer relationship management. And even though CRM has become accustomed to bruising encounters, some of these blows hurt – perhaps because there are some painful truths being delivered. CRM, as Searls sees it, would rather have captive customers rather than free ones. To demonstrate this, we only have to examine the language organisations use when referring to customers – how they try to ‘lock in’ customers and ‘retain’ them after they have been ‘acquired’.

Later this week, after I’ve looked more closely at what did and didn’t make it into Neil’s piece (what I said to him, by emai, was quite long), I’ll post some of what was missed.

Meanwhile, a little summary for VRM newbies arriving from the lands of CRM…

The purpose of VRM is to improve markets by enlarging what customers can do, not just what vendors can do. The latter is necessary too; but that’s what all good sellers have always been doing. And there’s a limit to how far that can go.

Better selling alone can’t make better buying. Better marketing alone can’t make better markets. Better CRM alone can’t make better customers. At a certain point customers have to do that for themselves.

That point came when the Internet arrived. It was announced by Chris Locke in The Cluetrain Manifesto, with this very graphic:

notThere was an equipment problem with that statement. Customers were not yet self-equipped with the means for reaching beyond the grasp of old-school marketers and sellers—a school that is still very much in session.

VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) is about equipping customers with their own ways of of relating to vendors. In the larger sense, it’s also for equipping individuals with their own ways of relating to any organization.

Thats the mission of ProjectVRM.org, which I lead as a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center. It’s also the mission of a variety of related projects and companies: The Mine! Project, PAOGA, The Banyan Project, MyDex, ListenLog, EmanciPay, Scanaroo, Kynetx, r-button and SwitchBook, to name a subset of the whole community.

Adriana Lukas, who started The Mine! Project, has something new at Market RIOT (Relationships on Individuals’ Own Terms): MINT, for My Information, Not Theirs. She calls it “a movement to redress the balance of market power between vendors and customers, institutions and individuals, web services/platforms and users.” Its obectives:

  • “to create an ecosystem where customer data belongs to the customer, is freely available to individual customer or user, in open formats
  • ‘to help the individual to become the point of integration for his or her transactional data
  • “to encourage development of applications that enable individuals to enjoy the value they can add by managing and analysing their own data (buying behaviour, purchasing patterns and preferences) and potentially benefit vendors, when such information is voluntarily shared by customers.”

This should bring up plenty of discussion at the VRM East Coast Workshop next Monday and Tuesday at Harvard Law School. It’s free. The agenda will be set by participants (on the “open space” model). In addition I am working right now on lining up an opening panel on Tuesday to lead off discussion of user control of data. Stay tuned for more on that.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t signed up already, go here to register for the workshop.

Loose links

Lots of VRM Hub action. Here’s the page for the one coming up on 30 March. Be sure not to miss the related VRM Labs. Here’s a review there of chi.mpVRM Hub last night and this post by Graham Sadd both report on the latest. So does Jake at omelette.es.

Nic Brisbourne sources Joe Andrieu in If You Love Your Customer, Set Her Free. Joe also sees $300 million in the One night stand use case.

Also in London, The Mine! Project has a developer meeting coming up next week. In a parallel way, other VRMers, including Iain Henderson (coming over from the London hotbed) will be coming to SXSW in Austin, where we plan to bring VRM up at a Barcamp there.

Jeff Jarvis brings up VRM in his end of a volley with Richard Edelman. (I had posted a long response here, but half of it got lost and I yanked it off the blog. Maybe I’ll give it another try soon.)

Live From Gartner CRM Summit UK: Customers Take Ownership. No VRM, but “social CRM” and “customer managed relationships.” Via Graham Hill. Geoff finds no VRM here, either.

Get ready for “fourth party” services. An intro to user-driven services. A new category driven by customers. Brings up PayChoice. So does Echovar.

Here’s a podcast of a call in which I explain VRM to skeptics.

The VRM Path

Adriana Lukas has posted A VRM Journey, a long and substantial manifesto. Highly recommended reading.

Much tweeted-about too.

It comes at a time when there is a bit of debate about VRM, started by Graham Hill at CustomerThink. I responded here. Graham came back with this. Iain Henderson, Alan Mitchell and I all responded in the comments below. Still Titled posted VRM & CRM – There’s no need argument there. The list goes on.

What matters more is that real work is going on, and the trip is just starting.

VRM is personal

“Social” is a bubble. Trust me on this. I urge all consultants on “social ______” (fill in the blank) to make hay while the sun shines. Even as the current depression deepens, lots of companies are starting to realize that this “social” thing is hot stuff and they need to get hip to Twitter and the rest of it. (Just ask the Motrin folks.)

And it is hot. But much of that heat is relative to its absence in other areas. “Social” has sucked a lot of oxygen out of the online conversational room.

Meanwhile, here’s the challenge: make the Net personal. Make relationships personal. Equip individuals with tools of independence and engagement. That’s what VRM is about.

I bring this up because I just ran across this post by Tim Kitchin, in which he calls VRM a “reductionistically-named discipline” (never thought about it that way, but I suppose he’s right), and sees it as a “form of social brokerage”. Which it might be, if by social you mean just two parties.

Tim writes,

Now there will always be tensions in VRM between those who approach it from a values-based standpoint of individualism and those who see it merely as a source of efficiency gains - the value perspective. Clearly, for it to work, both perspectives must fuse together…and both are also a red herring in some ways.

He’s right — up to that last point. Because the individualism of VRM is about its point of origination: the individual.

At its base VRM is simple: it’s personal. It’s me or you and the vendors (or other organizations) with which we relate — whether that relating is deep or shallow, enduring or transitory. It’s how individual demand drives and relates to supply.

It’s hard to explain that in a world where conversation drifts easily to “social” everything. And where there are aspects of VRM that will become social. Also in the absence of working code. (Though there are some things with VRMmy qualities, and may actually qualify as VRM. I hope to meet some at this afternoon’s VRM Event here in Amsterdam.) And there are individual matters, such as one’s “social graph”, that pertain. But VRM remains primarily an individual matter.

One more thing, and this is personal too. I am not anybody’s “capital”. You or your company may call me an “asset” or think you have “acquired” me, or “own” me as a customer. But I am and wish to remain a free, sovereign and independent agent of my own soul. There is no price on that. But there is far more value in it than anything you can measure with the economics of transaction alone.

Free customers are more valuable than captive ones. That’s the point of VRM. Proving it is our challenge.

Hat tip to Adriana for the pointer.

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