Be Nimble. Be Social.

This past weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Jon Ferrara, the founder and CEO of Nimble. Jon is a true CRM pioneer, having started Goldmine back in the 1980’s on little more than a vision and a passion for connecting people.  In our conversation, it became clear, that passion still burns as bright as it did back then.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes for Jon and I to settle into what felt like a chat between a couple of old war vets reminiscing about past battles.  It wasn’t long before Brock Control Systems crept into the conversation.  It was at that point, we both realized we’d both been in this whole CRM arena probably long enough to know better.  (here’s a bit of nostalgia on Brock) Now, I’m not sure why I’m still here.  But, I now know Jon is here because there is still unfinished business.  The business of actually seeing the vision of relationships as the driver of good business be realized.  Ok, ditto for me on that point.

Relationships are the backbone of our existence.  Humans are social animals.  It’s trite, but people do business with people they like and people the trust.  So, for 25 years, since those days of Brock, CRM, as a technology and business process, has been trying to provide a platform to automate and scale one to one relationships.  It really is that simple.  Software companies have really made a mountain out of this mole hill; and have been selling us the same CRM tools over and over for the past two plus decades.

Jon believes he has finally cracked the code.  In his words, he’s built a “kick ass relationship contact tool”.  This is a solution who’s time is potentially right on.  It’s possibly the perfect storm.  The knowledge of relationships, the passion of a guy who’s been through countless wars and the proliferation of social media technology that has answered the relationship scalability question. 

This backdrop creates the ideal time for a software company to start with a blank white board and architect Social CRM into the core of its solution.  So far (and I haven’t seen them all yet), other solutions on which I’ve done due diligence are bolting social features onto their existing platform.  Let’s face it, you technical folks know how practical it is to rearchitect software.  Siebel learned this lesson the hard way back int he 1990s when Janna Systems figured out that investment bankers manage contacts not accounts.  Janna build its solution from the ground up with this understanding.  Siebel couldn’t change is architecture and got slaughtered in Financial Services.  Then Siebel bought the competition for 50 times revenue!  For the affable Tom Siebel, a small price to pay.  Ah! those were the days, my friends.

So, while the devil is in the details, if I were hitching my wagon to a Social CRM software horse, Nimble would be on my short list.  I plan to provide a deeper analysis after a road test and, to respect Jon’s confidence, after the product goes GA.

In the mean time, follow Jon Ferrara on Twitter.  Offer to connect with him and have a chat.  You will be hard pressed to find another executive…forget that…another human being in this space with the genuine passion and transparency Jon Ferrara possesses.

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