Insightly is a lightweight (and I say that not in the pejorative sense) CRM that is designed for small businesses and sole traders. It has grown to prominence primarily through deep involvements in third-party marketplaces. In particular, the Google Marketplace where Insightly is the most popular CRM application, in part based on its deep Gmail integration which enables users to save emails and other record data into Insightly from their inbox.

But while Google integration has given them traction, the reality is that when it comes to office productivity, Microsoft really is the king of the castle and hence Insightly is today announcing a deep Microsoft Outlook integration that it hopes will launch it into the next stage of growth.

Moving up the food chain with Microsoft

Insightly hopes that this new integration will allow them to move on from their sole-trader and small business roots and move up the food chain to better service midsize business. With the Outlook integration, users can view contact details and account history from Insightly CRM directly in their inbox prior to contacting prospects or customers. Thereafter they can then automatically link those emails to their contacts or opportunities for future reference. The Insightly Outlook toolbar lets users save emails, as well as to pull Insightly email templates into their compose screen, schedule their email outreach and track emails to see if, where and when a prospect opens the note.

The company is forward about the opportunities that this new integration brings and the limitations that a Google-centric worldview brought:

Our existing integration with Gmail has contributed to our popularity, but as we increase our adoption among midsize enterprises it is important we build deeper integrations around ecosystems such as Microsoft Outlook which are preferred by many of these larger businesses.

Re-working the architecture to deliver more oomph

Alongside this announcement, Insightly is also releasing a new architecture that it promises will really up the performance of its application as well as some enhanced application functionality. The idea here is to balance being a lightweight tool, while still delivering the critical features that companies need. New functionality within the application includes:

  • Blade Interface—an adjustable navigation screen allows users to access and alter record details without clicking away from their broader search results; particularly useful for inside sales teams who need context for each call while conducting rapid outreach
  • Quick Search, Real-Time Notifications, and Kanban View—up to 10X faster retrieval for contacts and other records; real-time notifications appear directly in web app rather than email; new Kanban view option displays records as cards
  • Integrated Telephony—users can now dial customers directly within Insightly using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). Insightly can log, track and analyze call data to determine trends such as call length and messaging to optimize sales enablement
  • Single Sign On—Insightly now integrates with tools like OneLogin, Auth0 or Okta, allowing large enterprises with hundreds of users to control who has access to different software applications and allow them to share one Windows login

Ramping up the business to support more customers

Alongside the technology changes, Insightly is doubling its headcount this year and building out a specialist sales team dedicated to mid-sized businesses.


Moving up the food chain isn’t as simple as it sounds – there is a whole lot of complexity that larger customer demands and delivering this, while still maintaining the simple and easy to use point of difference is a huge challenge. While the Microsoft partnership will certainly help them to target larger organizations, Insightly needs to reconcile itself to delivering a more complex offering, while still being easy to use. It will be interesting to watch how they navigate this process.

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.

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