The big idea behind VRM is that while companies have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to consolidate and manage all the information they have about a customer — improving life for both the company and the customer — the customer doesn’t have the equivalent capability on their side of the relationship. Give customers such a system — called a PDS (personal data store or personal data service), let them to link it to the CRM systems of their choice, and suddenly you have a vibrant new ecosystem of “empowered customers”.

Doc Searls, the father of VRM, believes this is the cutting edge of the next economy, one that will do as much to drive new markets and forms of value over the next few decades as the Web has done over the last few. Doc’s lead ProjectVRM at the Harvard Berkman Institute since 2006 and his book about VRM is due from Harvard Business Press next January.

But VRM is more than an academic project, it is real market development coming from a growing list of companies. Doc details a number of them in this recent ProjectVRM blog post.

What does Connect.Me have to do with VRM? We’re building the trust fabric for a PDS network. A network for individuals to connect their PDS — to each other, to social networks, to communities, to websites, to CRM systems, to whomever and whatever they want to be able to safely connect and share with.

Stay tuned – July is when we start turning it on. In the meantime, if this subject intrigues you, read our white paper, The Personal Network.