A Love Affair – Nimble Smart Contacts for Outlook

A Love Affair – Nimble Smart Contacts for Outlook

Social Selling pioneer Nimble has an awesome start into 2017. First it got number 1 in CRM satisfaction by G2Crowd earlier in January, then friend and CRM godfather Paul Greenberg named Nimble a winner of the 2017 CRM Watchlist awards, and now Nimble announces the Smart Contacts add-in for Outlook, a deep integration into Outlook for iOS, with an integration into Outlook for Android coming soon.

The Nimble Smart Contacts add-in brings the power of Nimble’s view on contacts to Outlook for mobile users, after the widget and Outlook add-on already offered this functionality for the web- and Outlook clients.

The add-on follows the philosophy that for most companies the e-mail account is still their CRM system; given this, this is a straightforward enhancement. Nimble acknowledges that there are two main email systems used in businesses: Gmail and Office365, and now fully supports them both. This integration delivers the profiling data that the Nimble back end gathers practically at any place. The browser add-in already today allows to get profiling information about contacts in other CRM systems, e.g. Salesforce or MS Dynamics and works seamlessly in Google Apps and Office365.

Nimble Side Panel

Nimble Side Panel

“The biggest cause of communication failure is lack of knowledge of who someone is or what their business is about,” says Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble.

This add-on is closing one missing link in the chain by making it part of Outlook and reducing the need for having yet another app. Relevant business insight about people in a mail conversation and their companies is now directly available in the email client.

Nimble Smart Contact Manager

Nimble Smart Contact Manager

The add-on, along with the above-mentioned Outlook Add-in, and the available Dynamcis integration, puts Nimble squarely between Microsofts Outlook Customer Manager and a full-scale Dynamics implementation – an interesting thought that I will continue below.

Considering the fact that Jon was on an “intense visit to Redmond” last year, an add-on like this shouldn’t come as a major surprise. The major surprise would rather be if this would be the only piece that is going to come.

And it isn’t.

In a conversation today about things CRM Jon gave me some more snippets of information. What I can say is this: Nimble is a pilot partner for Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Partner program. With this it is likely that Microsoft Sales can go pitching Nimble to their customers. Microsoft is also funding Nimble to develop applications on Azure. This is an interesting move for Microsoft as it can potentially put quite some additional load on Azure.

My Take

Although on the outset it doesn’t look like it, this can be a big thing.

If this partnership goes deeper than a mere add-in to Outlook, then there are quite some benefits for both parties, Microsoft and Nimble. Nimble gets better access to the huge Microsoft customer- and partner base with a corresponding reach, which should translate to a boost of customers and thus revenue.

Microsoft on the other side gets access to a Social Sales solution that is placed at the lower end of the market, which is far from being saturated. And Microsoft gets access to a solution that is natural to people who do not yet use a CRM system, as it is built around the Inbox. Together with Nimble’s stickiness (very high user satisfaction according to G2Crowd), the existing integration into Dynamics and the above mentioned Azure development joint Nimble-Microsoft customers also get a clear upgrade path to MS Dynamics.

As it is right now, Nimble is positioned between the Outlook Customer Manager and MS Dynamics. Surely there is a big gap between Nimble and Dynamics, but as it stands this is rather a good thing, as said above. Being Microsoft I would consider subsidizing the Nimble add-on instead of continuing to offer their own Outlook Customer Manager.

So why could this be a big thing, you ask?

Imagine the following: The Smart Contacts App, or rather Nimble becoming part of the Office365 fabric, working with the full Microsoft application stack, like Outlook, Skype, Team, Dynamics, Office365, LinkedIn, PowerBI. Add the fact that many smaller businesses are still working without a CRM system, but merely use their mail client – and MS Office. Continue the thought with: Salesforce, SugarCRM, SAP, Dynamics are too expensive and too ‘clumsy’, user-unfriendly. Add the idea of a deep integration into the Office Graph/LinkedIn graph, and all of the sudden there is a powerful and affordable social sales application.

Mind you, there still would be gaps on the service and especially marketing side, but this is a story for another day. For now I do see huge potential in this partnership.