I’ve been playing with the new Longjump business application service over the past couple of days and I like it. Think Ning meets Salesforce meets DabbleDB. What makes it stand out for me is the fact that you can easily work out how to get the system up and running in a matter of moments, since all the heavy lifting database work is hidden behind a very user friendly interface. With a potentially powerful application like this, it’s important not to confuse the user with too many open options, which is where I feel Ning (and to a similar extent DabbleDB) fall down a little.
The service comes with two ready configured applications installed – Office Space for managing your time and people, and 360 Customer Manager, for client management – and these can be customised to your own requirements. There’s also a growing catalogue of applications that you can ‘subscribe’ to available, covering both vertical needs such as recruitment agencies or general purpose such as asset tracking. The idea is that as the Longjump community grows, more applications will be distributed and rated, so a newcomer to the system should be able to find a whole bunch of relevant applications they can adapt and plug-in to their base system from day one.
This is a very cool way to do things, and it can only make the service more attractive as it grows. The problem with standard proprietary CRM products is the fact that development is a slow and cumbersome affair. With this system, applications will develop alongside the growth of the whole service, which should result in some pretty cool vertical and general business features launching over time. Add to that the genuinely extensive customisation options and impressive reporting function and you’ve got a very powerful platform indeed on which to build a long term business.
One of the problems of writing a mini-view of this kind of app is the lack of time and data to really test things like performance under load. The Longjump system certainly looks great, and it has the kind of flexibility which should blow veteran programs like Act! out of the water, but the proof of the pudding will be how well it works when you’ve loaded it up with 1000 contact companies and have 100 + employees all accessing it full on, day in day out. In other words, scalability is crucial for something like this!
That said, however, this looks to be one of the best designed services of the type that I’ve seen recently, and as long as the pricing is right – it’s currently free until 2008 – I can’t see it going anywhere but up. In fact I’ll be astonished if the company doesn’t get bought soon by a ‘name’ wanting to shortcut their way into small business services.