I am a tad obsessive about my address book. While there are several thousand people in it, I tend to believe that I need to make sure that they stay current and I look to my address book as the center of my social network. but it ought to work more like a personal relationship manager.
I was recently describing my update process to David Strom, after he had posted an entry on his blog about how poor the contact management system in Gmail was, and I hit upon a realization: A lot of the work that goes into keeping all that information up to date seems to be something that ought to be more suited to some level of automation. Why is it that there is no real linkage between my address book, different email systems, social networks, IM systems, Skype (and other voice over IP solutions) and my mobile phone? Each of those appears to live in a silo, unable to offer me a full view of the people I know.
While Plaxo does a good job of synchronizing metadata about people (What I would consider as rank, name, and serial number ie. the basics like physical address, IM address, phone, and email), it has yet to evolve into a solution that would give me a full view of the relationships I have.
I also played with a number of CRM packages like SugarCRM but ultimately, they fail because their view is completely sales-centric, with the idea of people being largely seen as members of a company and sales prospects to be closed. I am not much of a salesperson (unless you consider pushing new ideas on people a type of sale, which arguably it is) but my view of the world is much richer than that. I don’t want to think of people as buyers.
However, the concepts of grouping information in CRMs is somewhat attractive. What I want is a view of my relationship with people that would group:
The interesting thing is that each of this information is available in a digitized fashion but there is no centralized point that allows me to see said information about Joe Smith.
Why is that?
So I’d like to suggest the creation of a new class of software called the “Personal Relationship Manager” or PRM. The purpose of a PRM would be to help you manage your life instead of trying to manage sales.
Of course, people are going to say that this product or that product solves my existing problem. In order to get those people to think before they push their solution, let me describe in details what I want:
Conversations and Status
So the purpose of the system, once built, would be to give me a view of my friends/contacts/etc… that is consolidated. It would probably provide me with a high level contact overview (listing all the ways to get in touch with someone), and then allow me to drill on the different conversations I’ve had with the person across a variety of systems (Email, IM, phone, social nets) as well as give me an overview of what they’ve been up to thanks to a status message and socially aware apps screen. And it would have to do all that without me changing any of the systems I’m currently using. It’s a tall order but it’s one that, if satisfied, could easily become the central way for people to manage their relationship.
If your product does indeed satisfy all those requirements, you may have made a sale. And if you have an interest in developing a PRM, I’ll be happy to be an alpha tester.
© Tristan Louis 1994-present Some rights reserved.