37 Signals finally launched their heavily trailed CRM lite application Highrise today.
Although it’s somewhat passe to say it, 37 Signals have always been a strong influence on Made Media, and I’ve been something of a fan ever since Zeldman first linked through to their fledgling web design studio.
Everyone uses BaseCamp, and of course Ruby on Rails has been a massive influence on web programming over the past three years, but for me none of the subsequent 37 Signals application releases lived up to the first.
At a first glance, Highrise looks exactly what I need in a CRM app, and there are many deft touches in the interface design and approach. Much as BaseCamp showed that project management is about communication not Gant charts, HighRise shows that CRM is about people not ‘Pipelines’.
So I’m sold. But it’s tempting to join the throng of people asking for better BaseCamp integration. I really need both apps to be the starting point of my working day. And that’s clearly a core problem for many would be users.
I understand, though, why BaseCamp integration is not high on the list of priorities for 37 Signals, and may in fact never really work.
For a start, no-one likes revisiting old code. Your latest chops are always light-years ahead of the code you were working on two years ago, and going back to crufty old code-bases for the sake of compatibility is no fun.
But more fundamentally, when 37 Signals developed BaseCamp they were a Web consulting company. And so they developed a perfect daily portal for a Web consulting company to use. (It just so happened it worked OK for other projects to).
Now 37 Signals are effectively a shrinkwrap software company. So the daily grind is all about tech-support, press contacts, reporting to the VC guys, keeping track of who’s said what to who. It’s not a project focused game like consulting is. Highrise is the perfect daily portal for that kind of company. It’s designed perfectly for its target audience because 37 Signals is that target audience. As a result, I predict that this app, like BaseCamp will be a hit. And if the pricing is right, I can see it overtaking BaseCamp in popularity.