I'm willing to wager that 2009 will be a watershed year for VRM. But then I suspect the same will apply for the next 5-10 years too; we're only at the beginning of the journey. So what activity can we anticipate from the VRM community over the course of the year?
From where I'm standing, VRM seems to be gathering significant momentum in terms of mindshare. Folks are frequently joining the VRM mailing list, and offering valuable, constructive input. And a few hardy vendors are starting to take notice (as evidenced by their attendance at November's meeting). It all goes towards improving the definition and objectives of the VRM project, and there's some fantastic work going on at http://projectvrm.org/ as a result.
So in 2009 I think we can expect two things.
On the positive side, actual VRM tools will move from conception and production into launch. Having these tools in the wild will help many to understand what is, up to now, a fairly conceptual notion. This will help determine the future direction of the project and, naturally, improved tools will follow.
Unfortunately, on the negative side, I suspect VRM will become a misused buzzphrase. It'll be interpreted (whether accidentally or maliciously) as simply giving customers a bit more control over their data, without strictly adhering to the actual principles of VRM. Companies will proudly sign up for their faulty interpretation of VRM. Course correction will become an important job for the project team.
Looking beyond these, I imagine that one or more VRM tools are on the horizon that will be embraced by customers and vendors alike. I still believe that there'll be room for a broker in this arrangement - at least to get things off the ground - with a strict provision for direct-to-vendor relationships as well.
And I believe with passion that 2009 will be a huge net positive for the VRM project. The quality of the discussions taking place on the mailing lists (join!) is consistently high and thought provoking. Some of the best minds on the planet are coming together for the greater good. VRM has implications that go far beyond mere trade...this is truly groundbreaking stuff and I'd urge anyone who hasn't yet taken an interest to get involved!