VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) is something I've been paying attention to over the past months. And certainly I'm not alone. Doc Searls, Adriana Lukas, Christopher Carfi, Kevin Marks, and many others have been discussing it for some time.
To the unfamiliar, and in the simplest of explanations, VRM is CRM flipped. VRM says "give the individual the freedom and the power to own his/her own data". The opposite of the way "relationships" are managed by corporations today.
During a recent event in Amsterdam, Doc further explains:
A free customer is more valuable than a captive customer. Problem is, we still think the opposite way.
We're still in the era of a captive customer. On the sell side we still try to "manage", "control" and otherwise "own" them.
He then asks the following question to clients who inevitably boast about knowing their customer so well, that they own them: 'Really? What's another word for owning a human being?'
Project VRM, a community driven effort spearheaded by Doc (a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society) is conducting VRM Workshop 2008 (VRM08), in fact, live on UStream. For your pleasure, here it is: