Good description of Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) by Whit B. McNamara at seamonkeyrodeo (“karaoke mind control…”). Seems like another place that user control and delegation is the right answer:
Kim Cameron, identity urber-geek, posted an enthusiastic endorsement of Amazonâ€™s recommendation emails over the weekend.
I know what he means â€” I blogged about the very same positive experience with Amazonâ€™s recommendations a couple of years ago, shortly after noting the inverse experience with eBayâ€™s sad little attempts to send personalized email to me.
While I, like Kim, am still pretty happy with Amazon and continue to view their recommendations as useful (and not spam), my thinking about VRM has taken some of the luster off of this relationship with Amazon.
The problem isnâ€™t anything that Amazon is doing â€” what they offer is already far better that what most of the market is doing; the problem is that my expectations have grown while Amazonâ€™s capabilities appear to be fundamentally the same as they were two years ago. You see, Iâ€™d like to offer Amazon the chance to have an actual relationship with me, rather than a relationship with the incomplete model of me that theyâ€™ve built from the transactions that we have in common (I call that construction â€œWhit: Amazon Virtual Editionâ€).
Just taking the easy examples, real-world Whit leaves trails of data across the Internet that Iâ€™d be happy to share with Amazon, just to see what they could do with them. (With the explicit understanding that both the data and the decision whether or not to continue sharing it is mine, of course.)
I get at least five or six DVDs per month from Netflix, and tend to rate them after viewing. Amazon knows only that I donâ€™t buy DVDs often at all. No recommendations for me, no opportunity to prey on my secret desire to own every episode of The Tick for Amazon.
While I buy a reasonable number of books through Amazon, the overwhelming majority of my book purchases are from Powells. Amazon knows nothing about them. No recommendations for me, and no opportunity to take business away from Powells for Amazon.
I buy some music from Amazon, but not a huge amount. last.fm doesnâ€™t know what Iâ€™ve bought, but it knows all about what Iâ€™ve been listening to. Amazon knows nothing about it. No recommendations for me, and no chance to take business away from eMusic, Apple, CD Baby, and a host of others for Amazon.
Now I know that I could work around this to some extent by using Amazonâ€™s lists, wishlists, and what-have-you, but why should I? Iâ€™ve already created all of this information in a variety of places, why canâ€™t I just use that information now, to make my own life easier? And if that means that Amazon gets the chance to make more money by knowing me better, whereâ€™s the harm? Isnâ€™t that scenario better for everyone involved?
I know that this isnâ€™t just Amazonâ€™s problem: even if they make it possible for me to put data in, everyone else that Iâ€™ve mentioned needs to make it possible for me to get data out. But thatâ€™s the way I want these relationships to work. All this metadata Iâ€™m creating is mine. I should be able to actively and selectively share it with others. I should be able to offer vendors data that they canâ€™t collect themselves, so that they can build a relationship with me, rather than a relationship with their transaction database.
And that right there is the â€œRâ€ for one big piece of VRM.
I could give Amazon a “packet” of delegation coupons they could present to netflix et al in order to serve me better.