In part one, I discussed how we got from the attention to the intention economies and how relationship is feeding into the way applications and especially CRM are delivered. In this next part, I look specifically at where Nimble differentiates and where it puts the relationship piece back into CRM. For context, I am coming at this as a user, not as someone who dives into every feature of a solution.
Using publicly available ways to acquire information from services like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google, Nimble builds a picture of what is happening with your contacts. Here is an example using keywords I decide upon that pulls out a class of contact based on those keywords:
These are people I've not yet decided are important nor the frequency with which I should remain in contact with them. There's an obvious flaw here. Jon Reed is a business partner so of course I am going to be in contact with him regularly but I'd prefer to bucket him as 'partner' not as as a potential or current customer. Unfortunately, Nimble treats everyone as a lead. I get that but then I am a bit odd in the sense I want to do as much as possible inside Nimble in the same way as I do a LOT inside email. Nimble does allow me to overcome this by selecting the lead type but that's not obvious in the 'today' view, which is the first thing I see when logging in.
Speaking of email, Nimble aggregates all my email so that I don't have to switch between accounts. That's a double edged sword because while I have for example two GMail accounts, they serve slightly different purposes. So while switching can be a PITA it is preferable to having mail jumbled as of today. I'm thinking that I'll get used to that but I would like a visible cue that I am looking one or other GMail account.
In the 'Today' pane, I get a snapshot of the things I need to do. That includes what Nimble believes are my best opportunities of the day based upon the contacts I have selected as important and the frequency with which I say I should remain in contact. Like other CRM systems, it prompts me for things I have to do like calls and meetings, lets me know what opportunities are in the pipeline and other directly sales related activities.
Nimble and AID
It provides a view into birthdays and job changes. Here's where we start to get to AID. In today's listing for example, I see someone I have in my LinkedIn contacts has changed jobs. That might well be interesting to me. I also see another person has a birthday. Maybe I should send them a greeting or a gift. I see someone else talked about something I wrote but I don't know who that person is and I also don't know if I have a relationship with that person.
In 'other engagement opportunities' I see an aggregated list of my contacts' activities across multiple networks as they relate to me. This can give me clues about what else I need to be thinking about.
So far so good and the metaphor of relationship continues in that I can conveniently post messages to any of the networks I've already connected without leaving Nimble.
For me, this is starting to get closer to the ideal screen/front end/portal I'd like to have as the main place where I get stuff done.
Right now, Nimble does a good job of filtering what I need to be thinking about but I have to do some work to get there. This is fairly trivial in the sense I can simply click on one of the preset time intervals to determine when I should be paying attention to a particular contact. And as can be seen from the image below, I can quickly filter 'signals' so that the clutter gets dialled down considerably.
However, I am equally interested in other people's networks. I want for instance to know how connections stack up against one another rather than simply get notifications about attention that is being paid to me.
In other words, I want to see where conversations are going, who is having them and then figure out how that relates to things that may be relevant to my daily activities.
In addition, there is an underlying supposition that both I and my contacts are active across major networks. This could turn out to be a serious flaw. For example, I've noticed that while Twitter remains an active source for things in which I maintain an interest, colleagues and contacts are using Facebook more.
LinkedIn is not an obvious place to develop sales contacts yet I also see more activity on that property these days.
In short, tastes in network usage change over time and while some people might well be active on one network for a while, those same networks do not have the same pulling power as the inbox. I've no doubt that Nimble will address this as networks emerge, rise and fall.
Nimble and Outlook
While Nimble makes great play of its Google integration, Microsoft Outlook continues to dominate the email market. To that end, Nimble has built an integration to Outlook so that large community is not left out in the cold.
How's it working out?
I've only scratched the surface of what's in this latest release of Nimble. For more details then check out the blog.
Of all the CRM offerings I've seen to date, Nimble is coming close to something I would likely use regularly. I say that having used and dumped a dozen CRM applications in the last year.
It captures activity among those with whom I have a relationship really well and is helping me discover some - but not all - the people I'd like to include in my networks. It's almost hitting the 'discovery' spot that I believe is important going forward but it will need to flesh out some of the traditional CRM items like pipeline reporting for me to say 'yep' this is the one.
The next obvious step will be to see how well it works in a group environment.