#InfoCampSEA: What is VRM?

I attended a session at InfoCamp Seattle on Sunday that kind of blew my mind. Initially, I thought I was too simple to grasp the concepts being bandied about, but then when concrete examples came to light, I totally got it.

Stuart Maxwell, IA and UE consultant presented on VRM – Vendor Relationship Management. The basic premise is control of all your data. Instead of a billion websites owning parts and parcels of you, a central repository stores your data and you decide what to reveal and to whom.

The website for the project itself offers a clearer explanation – Project VRM at Harvard. And, I am told, reading The Cluetrain Manifesto and especially The Intention Economy by Doc Searls is imperative to understanding.

I did get a few salient points from Stuart’s presentation, however. First off, wouldn’t it be great to only have to fill out or update online forms or registrations once not on every site you use? Also, wouldn’t it be nice if Nordstrom or Amazon, your preferred providers knew your tastes, but LL Bean from whom you only order a gift once a year for someone else did not keep bombarding you with sidebar ads for flannel shirts? VRM could make this real.

More importantly, concepts inherent to VRM could simplify the good old TOC or TOS – who reads these anyway? The site Terms of Service Didn’t Read is all about unifying terms and explaining them in easy to digest ways.

VRM could play an integral role in helping consumers control everything from health records to financial information to online profiles. It could change the world of e-commerce and create a lot of opportunity for information professionals.

Stuart has some other interesting stuff on his blog The Machine That Goes Ping.

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