Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 10:20 AM

How VRM works

Doc Searls has been writing and talking about VRM for many years. It's an acronym of course, for Vendor Relationship Management. It's the same thing as CRM, but viewed from the other side. We, as customers, see ourselves at the center of the universe, surrounded by a sea of vendors who have an imperfect ability to serve our wants and needs. Through VRM we hope to change them so they do our bidding better.

An example

I have a kink in my neck. So I stretch more to try to get the pain to abate. Yesterday morning, at the start of work, I stretched more than I ever have, or perhaps the stretching was cumulative, because this time my desk chair broke. A broken desk chair for an aching back and neck is exactly what you don't want.

I am in the endgame of a product shipment, so I'd pay good money to solve this problem as quickly as possible.

I am also in the middle of Manhattan, surrounded by office buildings and office supply stores. There must be a suitable chair for sale within a couple of blocks of where I sit. In my broken chair. With money burning a hole in my pocket. With an aching neck and back.

Stuck with Google (for now)

In today's world, I am stuck with Google to try to find the product I need. Of course, it didn't work. I ended up ordering a chair from Amazon, after asking my friends on Facebook for a recommendation. That part worked. I got a bunch of advice, and decided to go with Philip Greenspun's suggestion of a Steelcase chair. $900 plus tax from Amazon, plus $35 to get it here tomorrow. Not bad. A few years ago my poor back would have been suffering for much longer. A few years from now such suffering will seem quaint.

How it will work

In a post-VRM world, I would register a need.

  1. I need an office chair.

  2. Something my friends like.

  3. Time is super important.

  4. You must deliver.

  5. Does it require assembly? Please do that for me.

I think that's about it. After registering the need, the offers would start flooding in almost immediately, assuming I'm right and there are suitable chairs nearby. Perhaps someone even has a used one so I could save a few bucks?


VRM has a funny technical-sounding name, but it is the way of the future.

Last built: Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:08 AM

By Dave Winer, Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 10:20 AM. Reallll soooon now...