Back office in a box: LongJump
A new, easy suite of apps designed for small businesses.
Yet another back-office suite is launching here at the DemoFall conference (more stories). This one is called LongJump. It's designed for the small business, and while it's a bit sparse at the moment, it looks like it will develop into a good collection of apps.
I played around with a few of the apps, like the job application tracker, the employee manager, and the trade show planner. They're straightforward and mostly free of frills and complexities in the crucial screens (like data entry). However, I did find some superfluous animated graphs that slow down page loads while adding no depth to the data presented. Memo to developers: save your money. Give us speed and clarity.
LongJump's pitch is that the apps interconnect. People and companies that you use in one app can easily be found in another. Also, users don't have to construct or modify the apps (aside from adding their company logo if they wish) for them to meet most basic needs. This compares to capable but complex app builder CogHead. While LongJump users can modify existing apps or even build their own, that's not the primary pitch from this company. LongJump, instead, is the ready-to-wear back-office suite.
I like what LongJump is trying to do: bring the kind of interconnected suite of apps to the small business that SalesForce has brought to larger companies with AppExchange. Selling to the small business, though, is brutally difficult. LongJump is not the first company whose execs think that a "channel strategy," e.g., selling the service via integrators that focus on particular small business verticals, is the right way to proceed. Indeed, the direction makes perfect sense. But that doesn't mean it will work: the small business channel is badly fragmented. Maybe if LongJump could sell its service in Office Depot it'd be able to achieve some reach, but that channel isn't exactly staffed with salespeople conversant in Web services.
It looks like the company is making a good suite of online products, and there's certainly a need for it. Whether the people who could benefit from the product will ever hear of it is the question.