From Project VRM
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Customer Relationship Managment (CRM) Wikipedia says is "used by companies to manage their relationships with clients". It involves "Information stored on existing customers (and potential customers)" and "is analyzed and used to this end". Specifically, "Automated CRM processes are often used to generate automatic personalized marketing based on the customer information stored in the system".

"Automated" is the operative word here.

The top four topic centers at DestinationCRM.com are "Sales automation", "Marketing automation", "Customer Service/Call Centers" and "Analytics". Needless to say, the term "relationship" in CRM is oxymoronic. There is no relationship here. Not with real customers. This is obvious every time a customer encounters a call center.

Customer service hell (a phrase that brings up nearly two million results in a Google search for it) isn't CRM's fault. The problem is, CRM has nothing to relate to. Beyond the identities we carry in our wallets and purses (all issued by &#151; and limited to &#151; organizational silos), we have nothing a CRM can relate to. Customers have no technically sophisticated means of relating to vendors, or to any organization.

That's what VRM &#151; Vendor Relationship Management &#151; seeks to provide. It's the customer-side counterpart of Customer Relationship Management. It's the set of native tools used by customers to relate to vendors &#151; as much or as little as they like, and on their terms.

Project VRM is a development effort at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and is led by Doc Searls, a fellow with the Center.

As a topic, VRM grew out of work by Doc and many others around what came to be called "user-centric identity". The Identity Gang wiki is a portal into the user-centric identity conversation that has been growing ever since the Gang was first convened on a December 31, 2004 Gillmor Gang podcast, and was given a "clubhouse" by Berkman Fellow John Clippinger not long afterwards.

In respect to identity, a critical aspect of VRM is selective disclosure of personal information. It is essential that individuals maintain full sovereignty over their digital representations in the marketplace, and perform from a position of full control over their personal data.

It is Doc's belief (and this project will test his hypothesis) that VRM is required to bring a useful and productive balance of power between vendors and customers, supply and demand &#151; for the good of both &#151; in the marketplace.

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