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About VRM

VRM stands for Vendor Relationship Management. VRM tools provide customers with both independence from vendors and better ways of engaging with vendors. The same tools can also support individuals' relations with schools, churches, government entities and other kinds of organizations.

To vendors, VRM is the customer-side counterpart of CRM (or Customer Relationship Management). VRM tools provide customers with the means to bear their side of the relationship burden. They relieve CRM of the perceived need to "capture," "acquire," "lock in," "manage," and otherwise employ the language and thinking of slave-owners when dealing with customers. With VRM operating on the customer's side, CRM systems will no longer be alone in trying to improve the ways companies relate to customers. Customers will be also be involved, as fully empowered participants, rather than as captive followers.

VRM Principles

VRM development work is based on the belief that free customers are more valuable than captive ones &#151; to themselves, to vendors, and to the larger economy. To be free &#151;

  1. Customers must enter relationships with vendors as independent actors.
  2. Customers must be the points of integration for their own data.
  3. Customers must have control of data they generate and gather. This means they must be able to share data selectively and voluntarily.
  4. Customers must be able to assert their own terms of engagement.
  5. Customers must be free to express their demands and intentions outside of any one company's control.

VRM Goals

In the "Markets Are Relationships" chapter of the 10th Anniversary edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto, Doc Searls writes this about the goals of VRM efforts:

  1. Provide tools for individuals to manage relationships with organizations. These tools are personal. That is, they belong to the individual in the sense that they are under the individual's control. They can also be social, in the sense that they can connect with others and support group formation and action. But they need to be personal first.
  2. Make individuals the collection centers for their own data, so that transaction histories, health records, membership details, service contracts, and other forms of personal data are no longer scattered throughout a forest of silos.
  3. Give individuals the ability to share data selectively, without disclosing more personal information than the individual allows.
  4. Give individuals the ability to control how their data is used by others, and for how long. At the individual's discretion, this may include agreements requiring others to delete the individual's data when the relationship ends.
  5. Give individuals the ability to assert their own terms of service, reducing or eliminating the need for organization-written terms of service that nobody reads and everybody has to "accept" anyway.
  6. Give individuals means for expressing demand in the open market, outside any organizational silo, without disclosing any unnecessary personal information.
  7. Make individuals platforms for business by opening the market to many kinds of third party services that serve buyers as well as sellers
  8. Base relationship-managing tools on open standards and open APIs (application program interfaces). This will support a rising tide of activity that will lift an infinite variety of business boats plus other social goods.

VRM Tools

These are ideal characteristics of VRM tools:

  1. VRM tools are personal. As with hammers, wallets, cars and mobile phones, people use them as individuals,. They are social only in secondary ways.
  2. VRM tools help customers express intent. These include preferences, policies, terms and means of engagement, authorizations, requests and anything else that’s possible in a free market, outside any one vendor’s silo or ranch.
  3. VRM tools help customers engage. This can be with each other, or with any organization, including (and especially) its CRM system.
  4. VRM tools help customers manage. This includes both their own data and systems and their relationships with other entities, and their systems.
  5. VRM tools are substitutable. This means no source of VRM tools can lock users in.

VRM Development Work

Here is a partial list of VRM development efforts. Some are organizations, some are commercial entities, some are standing open source code development efforts:

Project Description Dev project FOSS PDS Standard(s) Language Communications Service Open API † - personal data, personal agent B
Connect.Me † - peer-to-peer reputation, personal agent
Ctrl-SHIFT † - analysts
EmanciPay - person-driven payments
Evented APIs - standards ✓ AB
Freedom Box personal server
GRM: Government Relationship Management - subcategory of VRM
Higgins - open source, personal data B
id3 - trust frameworks B
Insidr † - fourth party, agent
Information Sharing Workgroup at Kantara - legal agreements, trust frameworks
KRL (Kinetic Rules Language) - personal event networks, personal rulesets
Kynetx † - personal event networks, personal rulesets
ListenLog - personal data logging
The Locker Project - open source, personal data - open source, peer review (Transitioning from - GRM
Paoga † - personal data, personal agent
Pegasus † - personal data storage, personal agent
Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium (PDEC) - industry collaborative
Personal RFP - crowdsourcing, standards
Precipitat, WebBox New arch for decentralizing the Web, little server
ProjectDanube - open source, personal data
Project Nori - open source, personal data
QIY † - personal data, personal agent
R-button - standards
RedBeacon † - personal shopping
Singly † - personal agent
Social Nori - personal data, personal agent
SwitchBook † - personal search
Tangled Web † - mobile, P2P & PDS — Trusted Architecture for Securely Shared Services - R&D toward a trusted architecture and set of adaptive security services for individuals
Telehash - standards, personal data protocols
The Banyan Project
The Mine! Project - personal data, personal agent
Thumbtack † - personal markets
TiddlyWiki - a reusable non-linear personal Web notebook
TrustFabric † - personal networks
Übokia personal RFP†
UMA - standards
Synergetics † - VRM for job markets
VirtualZero - Open food platform, supply chain transparency
VRM Hub Group meeting in London
VRM Labs Research
webfinger - standards
Zaarly † personal RFP

NOTES: † Indicates companies. Others are organizations, development projects or both. Some development projects are affiliated with companies. (e.g. Telehash and The Locker Project with Singly, and KRL with Kynetx.) A - creating standard B - Using other standards 1 - EventedAPI

ProjectVRM Resources

Conference Call archive and audio links can be found at the Community Portal page.

VRM Events

Also see Events page. ProjectVRM events take place once or twice per year:

Upcoming Events


Past Events



  • VRM+CRM 2010 August 26-27 Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.



VRM Hub is a series of monthly meetings in London.

Other meetings and workshops take place before and during Internet Identity Workshops in Mountain View, California, each Fall and Spring. VRM is also a topic at Kynetx Impact conferences.

ProjectVRM Participation

We have two mailing lists:

You can edit this wiki by:

  • registering up at the top of this page
  • sending e-mail to the Project VRM mailing list asking to be enabled as an editor (to combat the spam problem).

And we encourage you to use the hashtag #VRM when blogging about the topic.

Internal Links