Hopefully, you are visiting this post after reading Part 1 yesterday. Today, I’m focussing on a new service called Connected that was launched earlier in the week. However, there is a summary of both Connected and MyWebCareer at the end of the post.
The review of Connected is interspersed with quotes from Founder Sachin Rekhi. He kindly gave me 45 minutes of his time (very generous for a man launching such a major service) – and I only wish I’d recorded the chat for you. He’s an inspiring person to interview.
Connected grabbed my attention while waiting for a flight that had been delayed for 30 minutes. I checked my Twitter feed and spotted a message by Guy Kawasaki that announced the new service – it sounded exciting.
I’d only got my iPad to hand – so thought I’d boot up Safari and check out the service. I’m glad I did – because the service was a WOW! You don’t get many of those from start ups….
In the time that I had free before the flight left I’d “touch screened” my way to connect all my various repositories of information (and there are many), explored some fantastic apps – and bored my wife by saying “look at this!” several times.
I was surprise by three things on first impression:-
1. It worked great on the iPad – looked as if it had been made for the device
2. All the connections to Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, etc were seamless – and merging/matching was excellent
3. I’m very used to services offering integration to contacts via these services – but Connected also brought your communications/messaging in to the system, as well as calendar
I mentioned this to Sachin on our Skype call. He said: “We started the business a year ago, went live to the world two days ago – but have spent 6 months in private beta. I had a couple of beta users using iPads – and they beat me up on the interface … They were happy when we launched, and I am glad you are too.”
The result of this trawl of personal data collated all the information I need to answer two of the big questions in Personal Networks – “Who do I know? What do I know about them?”
I discussed this with Sachin. My view was that Connected was producing the sort of contact report that I would expect to get from a good (maybe great) personal assistant before a meeting/call. Sachin said: “I’m really delighted to hear that. Many of our potential customers already value relationships and are willing to do the work – and Connected makes their life easier and saves time. There are another group who just want things on a plate – and it works for them too. Our focus is to make Connected easy and lightweight for the user.”
I have a real interest in the language used to communicate a fresh idea. My particular issue when I talk about Personal Networks is that people say “Oh, you mean like Networking – going and giving business cards to lots of people” (which I hate) or “Ah, It’s Facebook then – isn’t that just for saddos. And why do people keep pestering me to friend them on LinkedIn.” (well not quite!).
Sachin and I discussed whether he felt there was “baggage” associated in words he had used in his blog posts like “Rolodex” and Personal Relationship Management (PRM) service – with connotations of CRM. Sachin said: “We talked a lot about this. Rolodex can be connected with salesmen from another age. CRM has a lot of issues too. However, these terms bridge the gap to help people to understand what we are offering – and then we’ll show them the new way we are approaching things. I’m still staggered that there is still such a huge installed base of products like ACT! and Goldmine. I’ve been driven by the fact that there are abysmal tools available for people wanting to develop their Personal Network.”
We both agreed that the initial WOW of Connected was not in question – but the retention of customers to make it THE dashboard for the the Who and What of their Personal Network was the real challenge. Sachin said: “We’ve no doubt that folk who want to do a better job will like Connected – it will appeal to many. Retention will require us to get users to understand that with the benefits come constraints and disciplines. However, I think we are keeping this to an absolute minimum. Beta users are reporting that they are putting aside 10 minutes each morning to use Connected and then keeping it open in a browser tab to review during the day. We are also offering a daily email which gives a summary of who you are connecting with – and who you might want to connect with.”
It’s still very early days for Connected – and although the list of integrations is long (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Contacts – Calendar – Voice) there are some missing. Sachin said: “We wanted to start the conversation with customers – so have gone to market with many features still in the pipeline. We are a long way down the road with prototype integration with Outlook – and will hook up with mobiles (already doing that with Google Voice) with either an iPhone App or at&t piece. In the long run we’ll be aiming to get all communication in there – including SMS and Skype”
The user features are rich. For example, there are a range of Apps including Contacts Maps. This is an integrated solution similar to MapMyConnections which I reviewed earlier in the week.
I’ve tried out quite a few services in this space. Gist is the most well known – which personally I find an information heavy experience. I don’t feel that it really gives me the Who and the What – and is especially annoying at not matching contacts. Also, in terms of contact integration, I have used (and paid for) a service called AddressBookOne (which has some nice iPhone integration).
I found the experience of Connected – and chatting to Sachin – energising. I would recommend that everyone who has a Gmail/GoogleApps account and a social media network to give it a go. It will be a challenge to make it THE key app for your Personal Network – but it’s got a great chance. If Path founder Dave Morin is turning down offers for $100m from Google – then Sachin will soon be beating off offers too! He seems to have this area sussed. Remember, you heard it here first … well except for Guy Kawasaki and a rather nice review by Yesware.
This post has gone on a bit – and I’d like to summarise in another post (Part 3 on Monday!). There was also another late entry to this theme in the form of Nimble (another PRM). Nimble was originally introduced to me by Neal Schaffer of Windmill Networking (whose book on LinkedIn I reviewed last year). I was invited to their Private Beta yesterday – and will be interviewing their Founder, Jon Ferrara (who also helped to create Goldmine) in the next couple of days. It will be interesting to chat with him and make the connection – my old business was a Goldmine user “way back when”.
Back on Monday with Part 3 – and I promise not to drag it out to 4 parts! Have a great weekend…