In the Pardalis Data Ownership Blog @Steve Holcombe has an interesting and important pair of posts titled The Bullwhip Effect Part I and Part II. An excerpt:
… isn’t this already happening on Facebook? Can’t the Customer, Producer, Wholesaler, Retailer, and even the Government Regulators all become Facebook friends and experience right now this mashed-together vision of VRM and whole chain traceability? And isn’t this what Social CRM is all about?”
No, no and … no.
The challenge is not one of fixing the latest privacy control issue that Facebook presents to us. Nor is the challenge fixed with an application programming interface for integrating Salesforce.com with Facebook. The challenge is in providing the software, tools and functionalities for the discovery in real-timeof proprietary supply chain data that can save people’s lives and, concurrently, in attracting the input of exponentially more valuable information by consumers about their personal experiences with food products (or products in general, for that matter). Supply chain VRM (SCVRM)? Whole chain VRM (WCVRM)? Traceability VRM (TVRM)? Whatever we end up calling it, we know we will be on the right track when we see a flattening out of the Bullwhip Effect, won’t we?
He promises more in Part III. Watch for it.
VRM.cl is a new VRM effort in Chile. The site is in Spanish, but I’m having no trouble reading it translated by Google Chrome (a major advantage of that browser). It’s new, and they’re on Twitter as well, through @VRM_cl. I also added them to the blogroll on the right. We welcome them aboard the VRM development community, and look forward to following their progress.
- Yesterday Thomas Ruddy, who lives in Switzerland and words for the government there, gave me a variant on the old “On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog” line. It was this: “On the Internet, every vendor knows you’re a dog.” And treats you like one, because that’s the way the system is rigged. He’s working with colleagues to un-rig it by developing an open source protocol for relations between personal data stores (aka safes and vaults) and other entities — in which the individual holds the keys what is theirs. Watch that last link (and where it re-directs) for more developments.
- @xmlgrrl Eve Maler tweets, “Interesting. Crowdmap:CI is exploring non-social and selectively-shared checkin use cases. http://is.gd/k1GcP #VRM #UMA” Crowdmap is a non-commercial alternative of sorts to Foursquare and other familiar location-based ‘checkin’ systems. (“Checkins with a purpose”, sez here.) It’s from folks behind Ushahidi, which does good in the world.
- Marketing can do better, says Parable of Kristian (Cruz), citing VRM, which is called “a giant leap towards building an economy where organizations listen up–instead of shout down.”
- Along those same lines, Valeria Maltoni lists VRM among Three Important Business Conversations in 2010 You May Have Missed, pointing to the post here titled Where Markets Are Not Conversations. That post in particular contains a good summary of the privacy-insulting presumptions of business-as-usual.
- Nicolas Shriver says “Somehow, Groupon is using Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) to have a better conversion rate for their offer, by letting users pick which offers they are interested in.” Nothing Groupon does looks like VRM to me, but it’s an interesting reference in any case.
- In The Revival of Peer-to-Peer, Oliver Amprimo writes, “Vendor Relationship Management & Federated Social Web initiatives by Markus Sabadello / @versionvega are useful attempts to push the 2.0 logic further:http://bit.ly/dJjP3q. They are part of a growing movement that has a strong attention to Identity Management with ethics and personal responsibility in mind. For this purpose, they revive the decentralized / federated approaches made popular by Peer-to-Peer (P2P) before the web 2.0 rise and glory. P2P was killed by the music & media industry for the wrong reasons: comfort and refuse to reinvent itself. Web 2.0 remained centralised, transforming consumers as authors, but not owners. This opened doors to appropriation of personal data by Corporations, which found here new avenues for making profits. But this has not closed in no way the gap between Physical & Digital in terms of individual responsibility. Instead, this generated the privacy issue. So, no matter what was said 10 yrs ago to kill it, see how this revival of P2P is to bring responsibility and ethics on the Digital side of our lives.”
- In Redefining Customer Experience: CRM, VRM and “Disruptive Technologies”, Michael Hinshaw writes, “If we look at CRM as the corporate view of customer relationships, and VRM as the customer view of their corporate relationships, the real promise of “customer experience” as a strategic discipline comes into focus: Straddle these two perspectives and embrace the tools they enable to leverage disruptive innovation in ways that benefit everyone.”
- Inspirited Enterprise quotes Alan Mitchell‘s The Customer is not King:
A tectonic shift
But today that’s changing and we can look at the world through a different lens – that of the decision-maker (the person) rather than that of the decision-influencer (the seller). Once you do this it quickly becomes apparent that this meta-need – to make (and implement) better decisions – is bigger than all other needs (for chocolates, for cars, for current accounts etc) because it embraces them all, subsuming them into the bigger task of achieving what the person (not the seller) wants to achieve.
Person- or buyer-centric services then, sit on the side of the individual, helping the individual achieve what the individual wants to achieve, including managing relationships with many different suppliers more efficiently and more effectively (VRM, or Vendor Relationship Management). The central questions here are, What challenges does the person face when doing this? How to do it better?
The difference between now and say, twenty years ago, is that twenty years ago this person-centric perspective was operationally irrelevant. You couldn’t do anything practical to help people address these challenges. When marketers said ‘the customer is king’, it was just a disguised way of saying ‘the organisation is king’.
Now, however, as information becomes a tool in the hands of the individual, that’s changing. The organisational king is being deposed. This is not about superficial changes in ‘how to achieve the same old marketing goals better’. For example, it’s got nothing to do with arguments about whether it’s easier, cheaper or better to get marketing messages across via social media or mass advertising. It’s a deep, structural, tectonic, remorseless and comprehensive transformation in the relationship between individuals and organisations.
And if you keep on looking in the customer mirror, you simply won’t see it coming.
And I’ll leave those as the last words (or the first) for now.