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The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge Hardcover – May 1, 2012
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a must-read book ” TechCrunch
Doc Searls has written a very thoughtful book on the intention economy and the promises it holds for both vendors and customers.” Forbes
Searls’s vision raises provocative questions for companies and for marketers.” strategy+business magazine magazine
This is a thoughtful, well researched book with a compelling thesis and call to action for marketers.” Decision
a brilliant piece on free markets and the Internet” Linux Journal
Do yourself a favor. Read The Intention Economy by @dsearls. It’s a very quick study in what VRM means for both brands and consumers.” Business 2 Community (business2community.com)
The fine distinction between consumer and customer is at the heart of this insightful look at how some companies, like Trader Joe's, are moving in the direction of the "intention economy," where the desires and needs of individual customers primarily determine what the vendors offer.” Fort Worth Star Telegram
it’s fun, insightful reading for anyone interested in becoming self-actualized, liberated customers.” SocialMedia.biz
Finally a thoughtful, hype free book worth reading about digital marketing, the relationships we have with vendors, and a vision for a better future where we have greater control of our personal data.” ZDNet
ADVANCE PRAISE for The Intention Economy:
JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist, salesforce.com
Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect from them and how they use it.’ That’s the way the draft of the US Government’s planned Privacy Bill of Rights begins. If you want to understand what this really means, then Doc’s book is the place to start. In fact, if you want to understand anything about what’s really happening with customers, this book is for you. An excellent read.”
Seth Godin, author, We Are All Weird
Profound, far-reaching, and one of those books people will be bragging about having read five or ten years from now.”
John Hagel, Co-Director, Center for the Edge; coauthor, The Power of Pull
This book provides a much-needed road map for a profound shift in global markets. Vendor Relationship Management will turn markets as we know them inside out. Searls, as the key architect of this new movement, provides a compelling view of both why and how these changes will occur. You cannot afford to ignore this book."
Esther Dyson, angel investor
From Doc’s mouth to vendors’ ears! Doc Searls describes the economy the way it should be, with vendors paying attention to individuals’ wants and needs. I see a few such business models emerging, and I hope Searls’s book will incite a rush of them.”
Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D., co-authors of Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage
Deliciously skeptical of today’s business models, Searls paints a compelling picture of the future. And if you’re a business manager, The Intention Economy is essential reading. Think of it as an API for dealing with empowered customers. ”
Clay Shirky, author, Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus
No one has a better sense of the changing relationship between vendors and the rest of us than Doc Searls. In The Intention Economy, he explains the networked economy and your place in it, whoever you arebuyer, seller, advertiser, user.”
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Top Customer Reviews
As the originator of the "Vendor Relationship Management" (VRM) concept, Doc used his tenure at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, to foster several development initiatives designed to provide individuals with tools, resources, and fourth-party agents to help them ("us" actually) do a better job of acting on our own behalf while carrying out everyday commerce. In this book, he takes stock of many of those efforts and also gives credit to a handful of retailers, public broadcasters and other businesses who actively seek to serve their customers without gimmicks, deception of sleight of hand.
Doc recently pointed out that IT and CRM specialists think they are solving "the problems of the future" when they are, in fact, just stuck in the "now." Today they address specific problems that arise as social networks foment a groundswell of criticism, smartphones have become the personal shopping tools of the mobile masses and "The Cloud" has become the repository for voluminous amounts of data along with enough compute power to generate a never-ending stream of marketing reports and analytics.
Data aggregation and analytics are activities that big companies do to a fault and it makes it increasingly difficult for customers to carry out genuine conversations in real time with the community individuals within the firm or without, who can support good decisionmaking and, ultimately, a sense of satisfaction.
While he sounds critical of today's practices, Doc is (with hope) initiating a dialog (dare I say a conversation) among members of a community that spans corporate executives, CRM aficianados, social media mavens, interactive agencies, contact center agents and managers, and (oh yeah) customers. All of whom are vested in the current way of doing things, but moving inexorably and unavoidably into the connected world.
Dr. Milo Pulde
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
When Customers Take Charge
by Doc Searls
Review by Kelly Mackin, editor, Personal Data Journal.
Reprinted with Permission.
Before the middle of the last century, economics was called political economy. With the rise of computing and advanced statistical techniques after World War II, political economy gave way to econometrics and the rise of quantitative analysis. Political economy was always a broader, and in my opinion better, subject than its descendants for it allowed writers to connect economic thinking to the broader societies and issues that it directly affects.
Working on a four-year fellowship at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Doc Searls, an award-winning writer and journalist, has been spearheading a deep and important project on the role of intention in the structure of human action. His project centers on the development of an intellectual and technology consensus to further an improved political economy of the web. The internet was created by engineers who cared more about creating things and worried less about making money. That's why they favored open systems over closed ones.
Searls points out that the "open" internet is now overshadowed by the web as a sort of a Blade Runner "shopping mall." Relationships in this commercial web are governed by an essentially feudalistic rubric where sellers - in their crush to maximize revenue streams - essentially control all the material terms of a relationship. This feudalistic model developed in the absence of a technical infrastructure that would support other models.
As in the case of proprietary email systems, the need exists to develop interaction methods that support a 1:1 correspondence between buyers and sellers. In the current model, by promoting adhesion, where sellers enforce a take-it-or-leave-it model that attempts to control the customer, the consumer is disempowered, as adhesion strongly encourages or even enforces customer actions that benefit the seller more than the buyer.
In Searls' view, the commercial web arose as a consequence of the Taylorist viewpoint that the holistic person or entity that is seeking something matters only for behaviors that support the goals of the seller. This model creates all manner of problems and he devotes over 150 pages of the book to tracing the history of networking and the evolution of commerce in the last century to show how we arrived at this point.
Searls does a superb job laying out the development of the quiet technologies that underlie the web and convincingly shows that the nature of these open systems enables players on the web endpoints to share without the permission of players in the center who supply connectivity. The bright group of developers and thinkers who animate this quiet internet, who create the structures that the success of the internet relies upon, are now bringing these principles into operation at the service level.
Examples abound, but one of the best is Personal's approach to fourth party services. Personal declares in their legal agreement that the customer is the owner of their data. Alan Mitchell of CNTL-Shift, the founder of MyDex, led the charge in Britain to embody similar principles and has gotten the support of many companies and government officials in England. [Personal is a PDEC member -Ed]
Searls'model is an attempt to reform the commercial web with technologies and services that enable the internet's open systems principles to rise to the level where they can change the dynamic between customers and sellers, between publishers and readers, and any other scission where the balance of control rests squarely in the laptop of the more powerful interest.
Personal Vendor Relationship Management is tightly defined in the tract with a set of principles that follow from a belief that the `free' customers are more valuable than captive ones. For those new to pVRM, the principles (from the project's website) are:
* Customers must enter relationships with vendors as independent actors.
* Customers must be the points of integration for their own data.
* Customers must have control of data they generate and gather. This means they must be able to share data selectively and voluntarily.
* Customers must be able to assert their own terms of engagement.
* Customers must be free to express their demands and intentions outside of any one company's control.
In the book, these principles are described at the end of the chapters. On the future relationships of customers to sellers, he says:
"Relationships between customers and vendors will be voluntary and genuine, with loyalty anchored in mutual respect and concern, rather than coercion. So, rather than "targeting," "capturing," "acquiring," "managing," "locking in," and "owning" customers, as if they were slaves or cattle, vendors will earn the respect of customers who are now free to bring far more to the market's table than the old vendor-based systems ever contemplated, much less allowed."
There exists an intense social meme recently that fairness has to be the basis of any sustainable political system. The question and the rub is always how fairness is to be achieved. Is fairness to be achieved by the actions of government to regulate, control, (and thereby distort) economic activity? Or is it better achieved by enabling participants to thoughtfully manage their participation by giving them tools and services that allow them to have an equal seat at the market table? This of course leads to a discussion of the commons.
The venerated economist Adam Smith, in his book of political economy, "The Wealth of Nations" was promoted as an intellectual tour de force at the time of its publication and thereafter. But, as many economists have pointed out, Smith's distorted and incorrect analysis of the "problem of the commons" was used to justify and cement control mechanisms of monied interests that were opposed to self organization and the concept of the commons. Searls correctly points out that in the UK, the commons has altogether disappeared; replaced by private control. To a great degree, says Searls, the web in the commercial sphere has itself fallen victim to feudalistic structures in a similar way; although at the network and protocol layers, this openness still mostly operates.
"For free markets to mean more than 'your choice of captor,' we need new systems that operate on the principle that free customers are more valuable--to both sellers and themselves--than captive ones. Improving slavery does not make people free. We need full emancipation. That's the only way we'll get free markets worthy of the name."
Intention Economy is a groundbreaking work, full of mentions of fellow travelers and of earnest work designed to help people participate fully as sovereign individuals on the internet surface. It would not surprise me if one day this book will be as venerated in internet circles as Adam Smith's was in the temples of the elite. Perhaps another title could have been, "The Wealth of Internets."