A Futuristic Look at Data & Publishing: Entering the "Human" Internet Era
Popular thought has it that the Internet has allowed us to usher in something that is known generally as the 'knowledge economy' or the 'information age'. I happen to believe that society is already moving out of that era and on to 'the human era', an era where we are re-asserting our humanity.
Catching You Up
I've also been talking a lot about the concept of "extreme publishing" exploring the idea that brands have become increasingly clever about personalization of messages to deliver more meaningful and engaged communications -- messages tailored for the human era. Personalized marketing is good, but as more publishers and advertisers move in that direction, the individual is danger of being even more overwhelmed than they are today. This is bad for publishers, advertisers, and readers.
In this article, I discussed how brands have started to embrace customer centricity and the unintended consequences of data profiling. I concluded with a call to action for organizations to transition from "vendor efficient supply chain" systems to "customer effective demand network" thinking. That is the thinking that starts to allow organizations to develop their "systems of engagement" as Geoffrey Moore calls them, which in turn will release "the age of the human."
The Marketing Landscape
Meanwhile, the landscape of 'marketing technology' is growing exponentially more complex. Oracle, SAP, Adobe, Salesforce, IBM all have their own marketing clouds, startups are rising to the challenge with new thinking, and of course there's Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social gardens that make money from advertising. The common link? We, the people, are the product and are being kept in silos, because that's how the brands think they make money. It's all about the enterprise.
Time To Fight Back
... and there's an app for that. It's called VRM (Vendor Relationship Management). The idea of VRM emerged from a Doc Searls book in 2005 called The Intention Economy. Bottom line, VRM is the other side of CRM. The lives of you, me, and the guy next door have become so complicated and so invaded by the brands without a thought about our challenge of managing more vendors than we ever needed to before -- let alone the privacy issues. We need our own personal clouds against which we can manage all those relationships.
Personally, I really do not want a relationship with my insurance company, bank or dog food vendor. But I do want to understand where my data is, who is using it, how it's being used, who it's being shared with. Of course, there are some vendors out there that I would like to have a good relationship with. In the lead would be those organizations and people that provide me not just with information, but more importantly the context, analysis, and summary of the same. We call those organizations "publishers." But, if I am going to rely on them -- I need trust.
Eventually CRM and VRM are going to meet. And then you end up with a giant integration problem.
Alternatively, you use a "connected customer communications" approach for digital interactions between sellers and buyers. You connect data -- not collect it. You deliver it through an open platform, a "marketplace."
One vision is where sellers and buyers are brought together in a mutually beneficial way. Namely, CRM and VRM agent applications can act on behalf of sellers and buyers, connect to data (and each other) based on rules and privacy setting -- as specified by us. VRMs could for example signal what their master is in the market for and give permission to relevant CRMs to market their offerings.
The open architecture approach democratizes the power between brands, people, and the communication enablers. The vendors are no longer a gatekeeper for innovation; everyone is empowered to configure their purpose-built digital marketing solutions, such as CRM or VRM agents, to their own best fit -- we transition to enablement.
And We Are Doing It First With Publishers
The platform we are working on today at Lyris could morph into a marketplace where brands and people can co-exist on equal footing -- if that's what's demanded.
Even today audiences for publishing and media brands (i.e. people) can choose their digital communications interests via preference centers where they indicate what content they would like to receive. A very basic VRM agent.
From the publisher's CRM vantage point, digital messaging today can take into account not just that preference center data, but also behavior (online and offline), transactional history, demographics, location, context, and so much more. Relevant messages for each individual are then automated through machine learning and predictive intelligence engines. This is an example of a CRM agent acting on behalf of the brand and connecting with the VRM agent -- if permission to communicate has been granted. Next step -- enable the VRM side of all the other data types -- and hook it into the personal clouds.
Fun times -- and the result will be a win-win-win for publishers, advertisers, and readers.
As CEO, John Philpin is responsible for Lyris' global leadership, business execution, and driving the company's growth.