On CRM: Will Nimble Solve Microsoft’s Small Business CRM Problem?
Originally Published at: Forbes
As a Microsoft partner that focuses on small and medium sized companies my firm has had little to offer our clients when they ask about CRM options other than to direct them elsewhere. Their flagship Dynamics products are excellent, but they’re pricey for a small company and clearly built to compete against the likes of Salesforce and Oracle.

There used to be (shudder) the Outlook Business Contact Manager but that application was thankfully discontinued after a few years of hair-pulling performance and other issues. Office 365 comes with something called the Outlook Customer Manager which is a shadow of what a good CRM system should provide and frankly has not received much attention from Redmond.

So when Microsoft announced last year that it was partnering with Nimble – a powerful CRM application that’s targeted (and priced) more for SMBs – my antenna went up. Why is Microsoft doing this? Could this be a CRM answer for small businesses in Microsoft world?

I think it is.

Nimble is already a great stand-alone CRM. But with its Outlook add-in – released in 2017 – users can live inside of Office, rather than having to navigate to an external application. Leveraging this capability, Nimble provides Office users the features you would expect from a good CRM application – contact, lead, and pipeline management – while using information from both Office and its own database. It’s a multi-user, collaborative system that will let a team share emails and contact data from just about any device and provides insights about contacts with just a social handle.

Yes, it’s an add-in to Office 365. No, it’s not made by Microsoft. But it’s a product that, like other third-party applications, Microsoft is getting behind. It’s making Nimble available within its global channel partner network so that its resellers, distributors, consulting firms, and systems integrators can sell and implement it.