Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Customer Controlled Customer Relationship Management

There is a valiant group of people working at making this concept a reality (it is known as VRM, but mostly an academic term at this point); how would it look like? How is it similar or different from Social CRM? let me give you an example out of my own life:

The house I rent in the city of San Carlos has a whole house filtration system and it was time for me to change the filter itself. I did what most of us would do and I took a picture of it so I could remember the brand and model numbers and I went down to the nearest Home Depot to buy a replacement, used the picture to compare it against the items in stock, got what I needed and went home. 

How would that scenario look like in a world where I have the means to control my relationship with the vendors that are qualified to fulfill that need? 
  • I could take a picture of the item I need (as I did)
  • I could immediately upload that picture using an application that would scan it to recognize the item I need (Brand and Model Number are identifiable in this picture)
  • With my authorization the application could broadcast the information of the item I need as well as my location (no PII offered at this time)
  • Within seconds I could obtain back information about the nearby vendors that have the item in stock, what are the prices they offer and even some attractive discounts to lure me to their store (every retailer knows that any visit is an opportunity to upsell & cross sell)

I recently met Charles Oppenheimer; he is the Founder of Prizzm and currently working on a new iteration of the same concept: Mightbuyit which is in progress towards satisfying the scenario I described above and more (Mightbuyit already allows to ask your friends their opinion about the things you want to buy, as well as collect wish list items and expose those lists to others)

The concept is simple but powerful; can I have selective control of what data I expose and when and in exchange have the companies that want to fulfill my needs (and make a profit in the process) do the work for me instead of the other way around?

What is needed to make this work? In terms of technology we are clearly there, but we need a critical mass of user data as well as clearly agreed standards about how the end user will control what data gets exposed and when.

If an application that supports the scenario I bulleted above existed today, would you use it? what data would you be comfortable exposing and what data you wouldn't want to expose? 

I look forward to seeing the progress Charles has with Mightbuyit, are you creating something that tackles this same space? I would love to know about it.

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas


choppen5 said...

Great Article Filiberto, thanks for the mention. I was going to suggest a link to VRM, as many readers might not be familiar with the term - this is a good place to start: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projectvrm/Main_Page

Second - your description of using your mobile to shop, to "Intent Cast" as some call it, is compelling. Parts of it are in progress, for example being able to use Mightbuy.it to add items from the mobile or web, but the biggest challenge I believe, and you alluded to, is having businesses on the other side who can actually fulfill that demand, and see the demand coming out of such a system in real time. That is the future of mobile advertising basically - when ads work for you, as a ustility instead of a distraction.

To that end, Mightbuy is also starting a place for busineses to sign up with Mightbuy: http://business.mightbuy.it/ - and start the process of meeting cast intentions.

Filiberto Selvas said...

Thanks Charles, it is an exciting idea. I do believe that, giving the proper critical mass of end users, businesses will be willing and ready to line up on the other side to fulfill demand. It does present a typical cold start problem though which the likes of Amazon and Walmart may be very well positioned to address.

Looking forward to our next conversation.