Is the term VRM misleading?

I just read Lee White’s post, Enterprise 2.0, meet Social Media Monitoring, and it made me think. Lee wrote:

“Consider a world where a customer with an issue merely has to post their problem on their own blog or any discussion forum and the company will find it and resolve it. You will have removed the burden from the customer of figuring out HOW to complain. Sounds a lot like Doc Searls VRM project to me”

While it’s not clear from his post whether or not Lee is missing the full potential of VRM, it seems to me that the name itself (by its very association with CRM) limits the idea in peoples’ imaginations.

To me, the VRM project is not about managing the other side of the customer helpdesk relationship (as implied by the name). That might be one use case for it, but to me it’s one of the least interesting. I think the VRM project goes much deeper. I think it changes a relationship where you have to shop around, filling in forms, endlessly giving away your data, to a relationship where you signal an interest in a product and vendors bid for your custom. It brings the marketplace to your doorstep. It changes the way people engage in E-commerce.

4 Responses to Is the term VRM misleading?

  1. Lee White says:


    I wasn’t implying that my “CS 2.0” was the end-all of VRM. In fact agree with you that VRM is (will be) something much deeper. My intent for the reference was mainly to introduce the concept to my readers that may not otherwise be familiar with it.


  2. richmarr says:

    Hi Lee.

    Yeah I thought as much. If I was a little less lazy I would have gone and looked for the depth of your opinion on VRM in other posts rather than just reading the one 🙂

    Regardless of my mistaken inspiration though, I do think there’s potential for a name for VRM that more expressive of its potential.

    Nice to meet you, so to speak.


  3. Doc Searls says:


    We had been talking about VRM for years by different names and descriptions. It wasn’t until Mike Vizard suggested “VRM” during a Gillmor Gang podcast that the idea really began to jell, and to start moving conversation forward rapidly.

    As a label, it’s a deficient description. But so would be any label that has specifics. Specifics are what allow us to begin knowing something. To draw a circle around everything that VRM encompasses, including relationships with other parties that aren’t vendors, and relationships that last no longer than transactions, would make the whole thing way too vague.

    So, we’ve found it easier to qualify a slightly wrong label than to explain the idea from scratch.

    That said, if somebody comes up with a better label that does the same job, and helps developers address the issues it brings up, I’d love it.


  4. richmarr says:

    Hi Doc,

    That makes sense. I think the reason I haven’t really meshed with the term VRM is the part of the concept that I personally like the most is the ability to make vendors compete for your custom, which isn’t really communicated by VRM because of the association with CRM (although you could still justify it).

    I’ll be sure to let you know if I think of anything 🙂


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