Wednesday, July 16, 2008

VRM retrospective - making adoption easy

The Vendor Relationship Management Workshop at Harvard this week has been an invigorating event.

During the event I blogged on a question that was on my mind:

"Where do I put all my VRM stuff? "

Some of my questions were answered in the final session on R-Cards.

R-Cards offer the potential for our "personal data store" to be aggregated from the personal data held by companies that we have done business with on the Internet. One thing does need to happen though. We need to establish a VRM data portability policy framework that can be adopted and followed by companies.

What are the elements of a VRM data portability policy?

The basic elements of a VRM data portability policy should include:

  • Data retention agreement - How long will my data be retained for? For example - for the life of the relationship plus 30 days.
  • Data reuse agreement - Will my data be used for purposes beyond the original transaction
  • Data ownership agreement - What elements of the data belong to the vendor such as a Frequent Flyer number
  • Data portability agreement - The data that is the subject of the agreement may be stored by the vendor, or it may be held by a data custodian in a Personal Data Store.
  • Data access agreement - The data that is the subject, or a sub-set, of the agreement should be accessible to third parties that have been granted access by the user. For example, granting access to my shipping address information at Amazon by a third party vendor I have performed a transaction with.

What other elements are needed?

Enabling evolution of the Personal Data Store

With an agreement around VRM data portability we have the basic mechanism in place to create the VRM Personal Data Store from the information that is already held about us out on the Internet. The R-Card seems to provide a mechanism to enable this.

Embracing the Vendor

This approach is attractive to me because it offers an approach that embraces the vendor rather than excluding them. Forward thinking Internet companies like Google, Amazon and eBay could adopt this as a means of further cementing customer loyalty.

Because the approach acknowledges the existence of our personal data being held by vendors it is pragmatic and leverages the situation. The Personal Data Store and the online infrastructure in the cloud needed to support the Personal Data Store does not become an impediment to adoption. Instead the user adoption curve becomes very simple. If a user has a set of delivery, billing and other addresses they have established and maintained at Amazon or eBay they can begin to re-use them at other sites via R-Card pointers.

As Personal Data Stores become established users can gradually transition their information in to their Data Store seamlessly.

The critical point is that this all becomes a matter of user choice. Users are not forced to adopt the Personal Data Store in order to enter the world of VRM.

Shoot it down

I know this line of thinking needs further analysis but I felt it worth putting out for discussion. Feel free to comment.

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