Project Management & Planning Articles

Interview Insightly CRM Says Easy-to-Access Information Is Power

by Jennifer Riggins
Published on 15 May 2014


There are so many customer relationship management solutions (CRM) out there that choosing one may seem like an impossible task. If you're a small business on a limited budget the decision just became tougher, yet a CRM is an essential tool for any sized business that works with customers.

Many CRM providers will tell you that they serve the SMB market, but then they would say that to make the sale, wouldn't they? It makes a refreshing change, then, to hear the story behind San Francisco-based SaaS CRM Insightly. CEO and founder Anthony Smith built the first version of this popular app in six months from his home in Perth, Australia, after identifying a market need for a CRM solution focused on small businesses.

In this interview with GetApp, Smith tells us more about the story behind this success, as well as what trends he's seeing in this space, and what features SMBs should look for in a CRM system.

How did you start Insightly? What's the story behind it?

A few years ago back in Perth, the company I was working for asked me to develop a homegrown CRM that was easy to use, yet powerful. With that project, Insightly was born. I saw there was a market need for a CRM solution focused on small businesses. When customers started responding, I moved across the world to San Francisco, and I was able to find a team that shared my ideals and passion.

What should SMBs look for in CRM software and how can they ensure their company gets the most out of it?

I would advise SMB owners to find a system that has most of the functionalities they need and is easy to use. The adage "the most powerful CRM is the one that is used" is true; if the people at your company are not using the system, then the value is completely diminished because critical information isn't available to everyone. Many organizations think that CRMs are primarily sales tools, but they can also offer organizational and efficiency benefits for everyone in the organization. List the most important features for your company's success, and make sure the solution you choose has those features and works the way you do. Also, having a customizable CRM is key. We tailored Insightly to SMB needs, so that employees can more easily adopt it.

What are the key trends that affect SMBs have you detected in the area of CRM?

Integration and mobile access are critical. In many ways, small businesses have the same requirements as enterprises, just on a different scale. No matter what size your company is, you want to see key business data in a central place, so integrating a CRM with other business applications and internal databases is an increasingly important requirement. These days, integrating cloud applications via APIs or services like Zapier is easier than it's ever been. Obviously, mobile access is a big area. No one is tied to their desk anymore, and access to information on the road is not only commonplace, it's expected.

Based on your experience, which applications would bring most added value for an SMB owner, besides the CRM software?

Depending on your business model, there are tons of applications in the market to grow small businesses. Google Apps for Work are free tools and great with team collaboration. Google Analytics is free and gives you insight to how your website is performing. An email service provider like MailChimp is a great way to reach your customers at high-value moments. Xero is an easy-to-use accounting software and also has integrated payroll. Hootsuite helps you stay on top of all your social media accounts in real time to make sure you are not missing any important conversations. The list can go on and on. Most importantly, make sure any apps you adopt align with your company's business goals, especially when they represent big investments.

Anthony Smith is the CEO and founder of Insightly. Prior to Insightly, Anthony worked as a consultant for IBM and as a software engineer for global mining consultancy Snowden.


Apps mentioned in this article