Connecting Customers

I love these images, which were found at SelvasCano.  (Read the post here.)

Where we are:


Where we’re going:


Spot on!  That subtle shift…providing the community capabilities that enable customers to connect with each other (and not just viewing customers as captive assets) is the secret sauce.

An Open Letter To The Web, regarding all this “Social Graph” buzzword bingo

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE WEB, regarding all this "Social Graph" buzzword bingo:

My connections are not yet another resource to be strip-mined; my
relationships are not intended to be the impetus for your next Bre-X
adventure.  Facebook and now, allegedly, Google are finding more and
more ways to give unfettered access to the "connections" I’ve
acknowledged publicly.

On a pragmatic note, I’m far from the least-connected person out
there.  I’ve had the good fortune to connect with many people at a
more-than-superficial level over the past couple of decades in the Real
World.  As such, I am happy to accept the LinkedIn and Facebook bacn
as it comes across the wire from those with whom I’ve had
interactions.  I see accepting these requests as a form of social
grooming.  It’s as much reciprocal validation as anything. 

But it needs to be an individual decision to share this information. (Ross is trying to find a way to get IP protection on his information, for example.)

The thing that’s missing from the majority of the social networking
conversations I’ve seen and been involved in over the past few years is
that the importance of context
is almost never mentioned.  My connections all have a context to them
(and the others to whom I’m connected my have a different context from
their perspectives). 

My attributes also have a context; you may not
care about what I had for dinner last night, but a cardiologist (or
officemate!) might place a great deal of importance on that information.

So we need to be thinking about the context in all of these conversations.

Developers, designers, futurists, users…I pose you a question.  When you look out ten years, do you want to be in Minority Report or the Global Village?

Make your decision.

Then make it happen.

Half Moon Bay, California
September 21, 2007

And she’s just my type!

My friend Susan Mernit just dropped me an email letting me know about the upcoming "She’s Geeky" event, being held in Moutain View, CA on October 22 and 23.

"She’s Geeky (

A Women’s Tech (un)conference
October 22-23 in Mountain View, CA.
This event is designed to bring together women from a range of
technology-focused disciplines who self identify as geeky.  Our goal is
to support skill exchange and learning between women working in diverse
fields and to create a space for networking and talking about issues
faced by women in technology."

More on the event here and here.

Bonus question: Which band/song inspired the title of this post?

Join ARRRRRRR! – The Social Network For Pirates!

That’s right, maties, September 19th is Talk Like A Pirate Day!  That means ye need to swab off yer barnacles and come aboard!  Here be the tools ya need:

Eye Patches:  Print out yer own!  Three styles to choose from:
classic black, "skull-n-crossbones," and "the parrot!"
Arrrrr! There’s even do-it-yerself patches to color yer own, savvy.

Pirate Hats:  Here ye be!  Step-by-step instructions of how to make yer own pyrat hat!

Click on the ships to come aboard!  Arrrrrrrrrrrrr!


Proud To Be Part Of myCRMcareer (A New Venture)

Picture_3Throughout the latter part of the summer, the Cerado team has been partnering with our friends at BPTPartners to build out a new online service for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) professionals.

The service is called, and it launched today.

This has been an great adventure, as we’re pulling together a whole host of different capabilities in one place for individuals who are tuning their careers to serve the needs of customers (e.g. sales, marketing, and service professionals) as well as ensuring that organizations which are trying to connect with those individuals are having their needs met as well.

The service is pulling together a number of different capabilities in one place:

  • A Resource Center for CRM professionals
  • A Peer Networking area for connecting with others in the CRM industry (built on top of the Cerado Haystack white label social networking platform, naturally)
  • A Career Center for job seekers
  • A Resume search capability for organizations looking to hire CRM pros
  • Open blogging for any member of the site
  • Links to industry training and education
  • …and a great number of other capabilities as well

As is true in launching any online community effort, the "getting to here" of envisioning a direction and creating and implementing technology has been a great reward.

Now the real part starts, growing and nurturing the community.  The great thing is, that’s where the fun is.  It’s the part where humanity meets business.

Do come visit, will you?

VRM, Applied

Doc Searls writes a fantastic treatise on Vendor Relationship Management

The link to the post is here.  The core bit from Doc:

"…the larger trend to watch over time is the inevitable decline in
advertising support for journalistic work, and the growing need to find
means for replacing that funding – or to face the fact that journalism
will become largely an amateur calling, and to make the most of it.

trend is hard to see. While rivers of advertising money flow away from
old media and toward new ones, both the old and the new media crowds
continue to assume that advertising money will flow forever. This is a
mistake. Advertising remains an extremely inefficient and wasteful way
for sellers to find buyers. I’m not saying advertising isn’t effective,
by the way; just that massive inefficiency and waste are involved, and
that this fact constitutes a problem we’ve long been waiting to solve,
whether we know it or not.

Google has radically improved
the advertising process, first by making advertising accountable (you
pay only for click-throughs) and second by shifting advertising waste
from ink and air time to pixels and server cycles. Yet even this
success does not diminish the fact that advertising itself remains
inefficient, wasteful and speculative. Even with advanced targeting and
pay-per-click accountability, the ratio of "impressions" to
click-throughs still runs at lottery-odds levels.

holy grail for advertisers isn’t advertising at all, because it’s not
about sellers hunting down buyers. In fact it’s the reverse: buyers
hunting for sellers. It’s also for customers who remain customers
because they enjoy meaningful and productive relationships with sellers
– on customers’ terms and not just on vendors’ alone. This is VRM:
Vendor Relationship Management. It not only relieves many sellers of
the need to advertise – or to advertise heavily – but also allows CRM
(Customer Relatinship Management) to actually relate, and not just to
capture and control.

As VRM grows, advertising will
shrink to the the perimeters defined by "no other way". It’s hard to
say how large those perimeters will be, or how much journalism will
continue to thrive inside of them; but the sum will likely be less than
advertising supports today.

The result will be a
combination of two things: 1) a new business model for much of
journalism; or 2) no business model at all, because much of it will be
done gratis, as its creators look for because effects – building
reputations and making money because of one’s work, rather than with
one’s work. Some bloggers, for example, have already experienced this.
Today I have fellowships at two major universities, plus consulting and
speaking work, all of which I enjoy because of blogging. The money
involved far exceeds what I might have made from advertising on my
blogs. (For what it’s worth, I have never made a dime of advertising
money by blogging, nor have I sought any.)

On the with
effects side – money made with journalism, rather than because of it –
perhaps the new institutions of journalism will become more accountable
as journalism’s consumers pay its producers directly. I don’t know how
we’ll get to that, but it will necessarily involve VRM, and I would
love to help build it."

Although Doc’s post is primary related to how VRM can apply to journalism, the points in there can be generalized to be relevant in nearly any industry.  Every industry is faced with the problem where "advertising itself remains
inefficient, wasteful and speculative" and (nearly) every industry would love to get to the grail where "customers remain customers
because they enjoy meaningful and productive relationships with sellers

The VRM movement keeps growing.

Art & Media Panel (Thurs 13 Sept.), Won’t You Join Me?

Tonight I’ll be participating in an "Arts and Media Discussion Salon" at CELLspace in San Francisco.  Entreprenprovocateur Rachel Hospodar, fresh off a number of great shows and a tour through Maker Faire has pulled together a cast of folks from the art and business communities to address a number of topics.  Rachel:

"This salon is growing out of thoughts I’ve been kicking around about business, the arts, and where the worlds of expression and profit meet.  The nonprofit structure is crucial to a lot of arts, media, and other commercially nonviable projects being able to exist, allowing freedom and legitimacy in seeking funding and assistance.  I’ve worked at a lot of nonprofits, though, and watched too many of them hamstring themselves through a refusal to acknowledge the lessons to be learned from for-profit business – accountability to your audience, a focus on what works, a pragmatic approach to the work itself with a greater focus on the big picture than on specific decisions.

Artists and arts projects changing traditional approaches to marketing & business.  Are artists more likely to build compassionate business models? Innovative business models?"

Sounds a little bit like a global microbrand conversation, eh?

Here’s where the salon is taking place.  Stop on by, won’t you?

2050 Bryant, San Francisco (map)
7:30pm until 10:30pm
Free admission
Free drinks and snacks

Arts and media panels – Discussion and Q&A
Live music – Visual art show

More info here

“Nodding Acquaintences” vs. Trust In Social Networks

Interesting research from the GuardianUK regarding online social networking.  The key quotes: "Social networking sites allow people to broaden their list of nodding acquaintances because staying in touch online is easy…but to develop a real friendship we
need to see that the other person is trustworthy. We invest time and
effort in them in the hope that sometime they will help us out. It is a
kind of reciprocal relationship."

Here’s the whole thing.

Hat Tip:  Valdis Krebs