When it comes to CRM, Jon Ferrara may be one of the most important people you don't know. If we go back a bit to the mid-eighties the call center/CRM market was dominated by a company called Brock Control Systems. Brock wrote and relational database/4GL driven software system which ran in UNIX systems (for you kids out there - UNIX was what we used before Linux - when you had to pay for the OS and it was under the control of companies like SCO). The downside to Brock's software was the lack of a GUI and as Moore's Law continued to transform the computing industry, the PC not the minicomputer became the new battleground for CRM software.
That is where Jon Ferrara comes in. He was the founder of Goldmine, one of the earliest PC-based pieces of software which still exists and almost overnight the software became a huge hit and he eventually sold the company to FrontRange. I would be remiss if I didn't mention products like Telemagic and SaleMaker, PC products which came out earlier for PCs but died off over time.
I met Jon at one of TMC's shows in Orlando in 1991 and he told me when his company was starting out that he was happy to be in the sales automation space (we didn't call it CRM back then) because there was no Lotus in the market. That comment sums it up well because a few years later Goldmine became a premiere brand and nowadays no one compares themselves to Lotus when they speak of market domination.
After the sale, Jon took a decade off to spend time with his family and is now back and ready to transform the market again. This time however he has a service called Nimble which takes web-based CRM and very slickly integrates with all major social networks. Linked In, Facebook and Twitter are some of integrations I witnessed in a demo today.
You have probably noticed that I have been focusing almost exclusively on how the contact center ties into CRM in Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine lately. Well, let's just say I think Nimble could be a real game-changer in the market.
The entry level service will be free so be sure to head over to the Nimble site and sign-up for the beta mailing list so you can try it for yourself. I am not allowed to tell you anymore at the moment but I will be sure to cover the company as the beta becomes available in about 90 days.