I first met Jon Ferrara, CEO, and founder of Nimble, while he was still in the process of founding the company back in 2009. Ferrara almost invented the term CRM, he was the founder of GoldMine, the company that pioneered contact management and CRM back in the day. Fast forward and many things have changed, but what hasn’t is Ferrera’s view that B2B sales are predicated on relationships. In this world where we have so many communication methods to juggle, managing these relationships is harder than ever before.

And this is where Nimble comes in. The company has built a relationship management solution, designed for teams and individuals, that allows people to nurture both personal and business relationships – whether they happen across email, social networks, or a growing number of cloud-based business applications. Nimble fits into a range of categories – traditional CRM, classic contact management, social media, sales intelligence, and marketing automation – and brings them all together as a so-called “relationship management platform.”

The interesting thing that Nimble needs to contend with, however, is that increasingly, relationship management is happening on the move, and required a mobile-first approach. This is difficult for a number of reasons, as anyone who has tried to reconcile a desktop CRM user interface into a mobile form factor will tell you. True, the CRM companies are trying to move quickly to be mobile-friendly (witness Salesforce’s Lightning mobile offering) but it is a difficult task.

Given this situation, it is interesting to hear that Nimble is today releasing a new version of its mobile application, one that integrated the two main office productivity suites (Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s G-Suite) alongside the various social networks and a range of cloud applications. The idea is that all of those individual siloes can, once and for all, be brought together into a single consistent platform that gives social context, an overview of historical interactions and allows easy ongoing communication management. This version is (unfortunately for those of us toting an Android device) only available on iOS at this stage, with Android due later this spring.

Ferrara is quick to articulate his view on why both a consistent platform and a mobile offering is critical. In his words:

The  single  most  effective  way to kill a deal is neglecting to understand people’s needs and  failing  to  deliver  expedient,  relevant  responses. We  designed Nimble Mobile as your personal CRM that you can take with you everywhere you work, so you’re better  prepared  to  manage  personal  business  relationships  at  scale  and  take  appropriate steps to  evolve opportunities to help you grow.

So, what has the Nimble team cooked up for us all in this new release? Firstly, Nimble is creating something of a mobile digital Rolodex. It offers up detailed dossiers that give users historical email and social conversations, as well as insights into contacts gleaned from a raft of different sources – both internal and external. Nimble is also including a hand business card scanning offering within the app – obviously, a lot of different vendors offer business card scanning, but building this into the CRM, so it can automatically collect the name, title, company, email, address, and phone numbers for a contact is super useful.

Nimble is also offering email control solutions, like those from Gmail plugins such as Streak and Boomerang. Users can send tracked messages and templated emails using email templates with custom merge tags and they can also pre-set attachments to email contacts. Nimble also enables message tracking to monitor engagement.

In true CRM-functionality, Nimble allows users to manage multiple sales pipelines from the field. They can log notes using mobile voice commands, assign follow-up tasks and schedule reminders to follow through.

MyPOV

Nimble is awesome, and a super-useful tool for those that need to stay on top of contacts and conversations. But it’s not alone in the space. There are so many startups trying to solve mobile relationship management and, perhaps more worrying, every platform vendor under the sun is trying to do this as well.

It strikes me that the real opportunity for Nimble is to stay laser-focused on providing “just enough” for users and avoiding the temptation to become big and bloated like traditional enterprise CRMs are. Ferrara has a long pedigree in the space and has been at it for years – it will be interesting to see where Nimble eventually ends up.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

1 Comment
  • Ben – Thank you for sharing our Nimble story on how we are re-imagining Relationship Management for the rest of us. I think that CRM has lost it’s way since I helped pioneer it many years ago. It’s designed for management and reporting instead of Relationships. People connect with people they like know and trust and that intimacy is earned and maintained over time by nurturing connections like a garden… 😉 I look forward to sharing a coffee or a pint with you soon buddy.

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