Companies building customer relationship management and human resources software based on LinkedIn’s API are upset.
Last year, the professional networking giant said it was limiting companies allowed to build hiring, marketing or sales off its API to a few development partners. And that may leave companies like Nimble , which builds relationship software using some of LinkedIn’s data, out in the cold.
In particular, the new limitation would likely affect features like Nimble’s Smart Summary , which lets users build and maintain profiles of their most important contacts.
But not to worry, the company insists. The new restriction won’t hamper development of relationship software too much. And industry observers say the LinkedIn lock out is more likely to encourage those on the outside looking in to build their own solutions instead.
In a recent Webinar, Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara explained:
“The changes to the LinkedIn API mean that rather than us being able to display the LinkedIn information within Nimble records, we’ll just be able to show you a link to their profile in which case you’ll be able to link out to that person and be able to see their deeper background in the LinkedIn section of their profile.”
Ferrara added that Nimble doesn’t duplicate the interface of any other social network anyway. So customers will always have to visit other social sites to “drill deeper” into contact information.
He said customers also always have the option to add their LinkedIn contacts to Nimble themselves.
But clearly a major feature of Smart Summary and any similar features is the automatic import and constant update of data on your contacts. And the LinkedIn lock out would clearly seem to have an impact on that.
Still, other industry watchers feel LinkedIn’s decision to limit access to its API (and potentially to the huge reservoir of business networking data behind it) will create opportunities elsewhere.
To date, LinkedIn has limited access to its API to only two CRM development partners: Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce.
As Larry Dignan of ZDNet observed  back in April:
“LinkedIn can do what it wants, but the API game can bite back especially if the company is only going to work with two CRM vendors. After all, it’s not like companies like Oracle and SAP—two CRM players not on LinkedIn’s partner list—are small fries.”
So it’s possible the demand for relationship data outside LinkedIn will eventually create more options in the near future.
Founded in 2006 in Santa Monica, Calif., Nimble now has well over 60,000 customers, more than half of those small to medium sized businesses.
The company offers a freemium model with free personal plan and paid business plan.
Nimble also says it integrates with more than 45 other applications to provide its services. Some of those include Constant Contact, Freshbooks, Google Contacts, AWeber, Evernote, MailChimp, GoToWebinar, Salesforce, QuickBooks, Magento and Xero.