Skip to main content

Nimble News from MS Inspire

MS Inspire, the annual Microsoft partner event, has just ended, wrapping up a flurry of news and announcements from Microsoft and its channel partners.
Most announcements were interesting; some more than others, especially when considering these items together. I’ve been following Nimble CRM and its founder Jon Ferrara for a while now, so I was particularly interested in hearing about the launch of its global reseller program and its social relationships insights add-in for Microsoft Office 365 and Outlook Desktop/Mobile. Nimble made its announcements within the context of Microsoft’s increasing its emphasis on partner success, as evinced by its One Commercial Partner initiative to bring together partner-focused teams from across the company and its new ISV Cloud Embed services offerings for partners.

Why is this interesting?

Microsoft’s lifeblood is its partner ecosystem.  In all likelihood, the company has the biggest, most robust partner channel around. Microsoft basically sets, and resets, the gold standard with their constantly evolving partner strategies.
A case in point is Microsoft’s announcement to incentivize its partner-focused teams to sell   3rd party partner solutions with Microsoft first party solutions, Microsoft is making it even easier for MSP/CSV and ISV partners to leverage synergies and add value to customers, profits to partners and stickiness to Microsoft products.  
We also see Microsoft’s Azure co-sell program taking further steps with ISV Cloud Embed. This new program allows partners to embed Dynamics 365, Power BI, Power Apps, and Microsoft Flow into their front- and back-office solutions. (I wouldn’t be surprised if LinkedIn were also integrated into this mix in the near future). If you think about it, this co-sell program looks a lot like Microsoft’s embedded Visual Basic for Applications on steroids.  Lots of steroids.
This combination of initiatives allows MSP/CSP/ISV’s (Microsoft Solution Partner/ Cloud Solutions Provider/ Independent Software Vendor) partners to develop value faster and, through the partner-to-partner ecosystem, sell with common benefits.
Nimble is following an ecosystem strategy, too. The company has been co-developing its light-weight social CRM with Microsoft and integrated into the  Microsoft stack for well over a year now. The latter is showcased by the new social insights add-in for MS Outlook and Office 365, the former by launching its  own global reseller program in combination with becoming a Microsoft Gold ISV Partner.
At the same time. Nimble stays committed to the Google stack it was originally developed on, therefore running a two-pronged technology strategy.

My Take

This is a thing.
As I have written a few times, Microsoft owns a technology stack that should worry other business application vendors. Microsoft strives to, and has the potential to, become the fabric that connects enterprises of all sizes with their stakeholders. In cooperation with its partners, Microsoft’s reach spans everything from the hardware powering cloud-based and on-premise data centers to the hardware in the hands of users and customers.
Microsoft also has the software to connect the two.  After nearly missing the SaaS wave, the writing's on the wall: Azure will surpass AWS as the infrastructure of choice for businesses big and small.
From my point of view, there are only two concerns (three, if you count the possibility of a  major strategic stuff-up, which seems to be highly unlikely):
First, I still do not see a Microsoft  e-commerce platform that has the potential to compete head-on with the likes of SAP Hybris, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, or Oracle’s ATG. With the world going more digital almost by the minute,  I don’t understand why this gap remains.
The second concern stems from the innovator’s dilemma. Microsoft is well on its way to crossing the chasm, meaning that it is drifting (or has drifted) into the Enterprise market from Axapta and Navision, the SMB ‘roots’ of Dynamics.
This is where Nimble comes into the picture. With its strong Microsoft-centric strategy and solid credibility with small businesses,  Nimble opens the door to SMBs adopting Microsoft’s business applications. Many, if not most, of them are running Microsoft Office and/or Microsoft Outlook already. Nimble is an easy entry point into the business applications market, which in turn offers Microsoft and its partners the opportunity to grow small business customers into the Dynamics offerings as they grow.
By leveraging Microsoft’s partnering programs while simultaneously setting up its own reseller program, Nimble is attempting  to create a triple win for Microsoft, its channel partners and for itself. Given that Jon accomplished this previously with GoldMine (GoldMine has over 5 Million customers and 5,000 Reseller Partners, and it was Microsoft’s #1 ISV partner in the 90s), I don’t see any reason why this strategy wouldn’t succeed here as well. .
Nimble’s strategy is bolstered by its continued support of the Google stack since both Microsoft and Google are the operating systems of businesses. Google and Google Apps are especially interesting for smaller businesses.
The only shadow that I see in this rosy picture is Nimble’s current pricing model.  They shed their free tier a while ago and settled for a $25 per user, per month model. The free Nimble Social Insights Add-In for Microsoft Outlook and Office 365 alleviates this to some extent. However, the free edition is still limited, and, considering Nimble addresses the SMB market with a capital S, there is a sizeable jump from free to $25/month/user. Jon hinted that Nimble will address this with an upcoming edition of a Nimble Contact Manager for Teams without advanced features, which will be priced at around $10/month/user.
So, in summary, Nimble is pursuing a sound strategy here, albeit one with a final question mark: Amazon. It will be interesting to see what moves Amazon makes in the Cloud Productivity Platform market over the next years.


Last Year's Top 5 Popular Posts

Ecosystem Play - One Game at a Time

It is not that uncommon that a software company creates new software based upon customer requirements. Actually, this is the way things should be done; not exclusively, but to quite an extent. Now, there are few software vendors who are truly independent. Most vendors are, and need to be, part of one or more other vendor ecosystems. This is simply a matter of scale, as there are only a few vendors who have the size and market power that are necessary to surround themselves with a good number of customers, ISVs, system integrators and other partners. And the number of these ecosystems is rather shrinking than growing.  What this means is not that these few companies can implement and deliver what they want, but that the other ones need to carefully check two things. First, which ecosystem(s) to belong to, be it one or more than one. And as the CEO of 3CLogic, Denis Seynhaeve in a recent CRMKonvo said: It is important to choose wisely, which ecosystem to commit to. One of the fundament

Digitization, Digitalization, Digital Transformation - A Stake in the Ground

Since about February or March of Anno Domini 2020 we regularly hear about how the Covid crisis is driving “digital transformation”. You now might ask yourself why I put this term into quotes. Bear with me for a minute, it’ll be explained … For sure, this crisis is forcing many a company into enabling its employees to work remotely. It also forced some companies to at least temporarily close physical doors as supply chains and/or delivery of products and services are severely inhibited or even broken. We also see a lot of companies implement interesting hybrid strategies that bring what we thought of being decidedly offline experiences into the online world. A good example for this trend are wineries that lost an important lead generation and sales channel with their temporary inability to host wine tastings in their cellars. Till now the opinion was that nothing can beat the experience of being down there in a wine cellar, surrounded by barrels of ageing wine, musty air, like-minded pe

CRMKonvo - Freshworks on Platform, CRM and useful AI

Freshworks has is now officially a fresh (sorry, I really couldn't resist this pun) member of the club of platform players. The company introduced its own flavour of CRM and a platform that they build upon. What is next? Lot's of ground to cover. A CRKKonvo with Prakash Ramamurthy, Chief Product Officer, Peter Stadlinger, Head of Products CRM and David Krauss, Senior Director Product Marketing at Freshworks. Together with Marshall Lager, Ralf Korb and Thomas Wieberneit they discuss market perspectives, what the value for customers actually is and how the innovations that the team has recently introduced fit in there. Prakash, Peter, and David bring a wealth of knowledge to the conversation, including a pretty interesting dive into how to train an AI based upon the idea that the human who is in front of the machine is still one of the most important trainers, due to tacit knowledge and wisdom that cannot be codified. Which also explains the trifecta of priorities that Freshwork

Nimble strengthens its ability to be where the user is

I haven’t written much about Nimble recently; actually I haven’t written too much about anything lately. Now it is time to have a look into some interesting news that hit my desktop. The News On June 30, 2021, Nimble announced an integration with Microsoft Teams to streamline workspace collaboration. The integration offers Nimble users to prepare meetings and provides the tools to help getting information on meeting participants from their contact records, the ability to take notes that will be synched to Nimble as well as the ability to send trackable follow-up emails. The capability will be delivered via an add-in to MS Teams. For your convenience, the press release is also copied below. Nimble Integrates with Microsoft Teams to Power Virtual Business Meeting Engagements Nimble Offers Microsoft Teams Add-in to Help Teams Thrive in The Hybrid Workspace SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- June 30, 2021 -- Nimble , the simple CRM for Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace teams, announced today tha

Together, Zoom and Five9 shape a new market

  The News On July 18, 2021, Zoom Video Communications, Inc. announced the acquisition of Five9, Inc. in an all-shares transaction. The transaction values Five9 at around $14.7 billion. According to the press release “the acquisition is expected to help enhance Zoom’s presence with enterprise customers and allow it to accelerate its long-term growth opportunity by adding the $24 billion contact center market.” According to Eric S. Yuan, CEO and founder of Zoom, the company is “continuously looking for ways to enhance our platform, and the addition of Five9 is a natural fit that will deliver even more happiness and value to our customers”. He continues with “enterprises communicate with their customers primarily through the contact center, and we believe this acquisition creates a leading customer engagement platform that will help redefine how companies of all sizes connect with their customers”. Rowan Trollope, CEO of Five9 adds that “businesses spend significant resources annually o