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Doc Searls On VRM

Today, a number of social media thinker's gathered together talk at the Cluetrain at 10 event in Palo Alto, including Doc Searls, one of the Cluetrain Manifesto authors. The Cluetrain is a very influential book and basically makes the point that with the advent of the web, customers have the ability to connect more easily and share information about vendors, brands and products. The new connection with people will mean changes in the way that companies connect with their customers.

Doc Searls is now at Harvard working on the Vendor Relationship Management project, or VRM, rather than CRM, customer relationship management, vendors managing their customers, VRM is all about ordinary customers managing their vendors with tools, typically web based. Those companies that can help enable customers to manage vendors will have more success in the future. At least that's my understanding of the concept.

Francine Hardaway writes some great notes from Doc's presentation.

"He's talking about what happens when buyer reach exceeds seller grasp, which is an unfinished question from the Manifesto. This was the Call of the Wild Customer: we are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings, and our reach exceeds your grasp -- deal with it.

But it isn't quite true yet. Ten years later, we're still in the grasp of the vendors. No new social network is big enough to accomplish what we have to do on our own. And we can't do it individually: we have to do it with the power of the group."