by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 17 October 2012
Great things happen when two people talk to each other. Great things also happen when two popular applications talk to each other.
This week, we review an application that integrates two top applications - an email application and a CRM application - for significant productivity and usability gains. We will review Cirrus Insight - an application that integrates Gmail and Salesforce. We will look at its features, interface and see how it can be of use to you.
Cirrus Insight was launched as a public beta in Fall 2011. Three months later (and multiple iterations in response to customer feedback), the application was launched on the Salesforce App Exchange.
As I mentioned earlier, Cirrus Insight is a combination of two individually popular applications - Gmail and Salesforce. By themselves, the applications are well-designed and well-known brands and productivity applications. However, transferring information and data between them requires customers to work individually with each application. Thus, user experience for each application is fragmented, complicating productivity.
Cirrus Insight solves the productivity problem.
"Before Cirrus Insight, users had to constantly switch between Gmail and Salesforce," says Brandon Bruce, co-founder of Cirruspath. The constant switching between applications translated into loss of productivity and duplication of information as users struggled to cope with increasing amounts of complex data points.
As a result, Bruce and his co-founder focused on making Cirrus Insight simple and accessible to users. The application's ease-of-use came with the added side benefit of increased adoption. Thus, first-time users of Cirrus Insight began using Salesforce more often and more effectively.
And, there are several other improvements on the anvil. According to Bruce, the application's founders have an aggressive community-driven development roadmap. "We listen to our users and develop features according to their top priorities," he says. He says they will add a number of big enhancements before the end of 2012, including calendar sync with Google Calendar and contact Sync with Google Contacts.
The first step in working with Cirrus Insight is installing the application, which is a 30-second procedure. The application uses email as the base for performing multiple actions.
By opening an email, you instantly get the contact's Salesforce history and can take appropriate action. Thus, you can add contacts from your Inbox and update Salesforce status for that contact. You can also associate the email to any object within Salesforce.
Beyond adding contacts, you can perform several other actions. For example, you can add and preserve emails in Salesforce for future reference. You can also create new opportunities and associate them with the relevant contact. In addition, you can also add entire conversation threads to Salesforce for future reference. Logging emails into Salesforce takes one click using the Quick Add and Quick Send buttons for inbound and outbound messages respectively. It might be an idea for the application's designers to automate the process of logging emails for specified contacts.
I especially liked the fact that you can perform all these actions without logging out of Gmail. Thus, instead of spending time and resources on duplicating information across two applications, you can perform several actions related to the application from your email application itself. The other benefit of this approach is that you can save on training costs for Salesforce. Email is a ubiquitous and familiar application, one that does not require training. Performing Salesforce tasks through email enables new employees to be productive from their first day on the job.
Cirrus Insight has customers from multiple segments and offers pricing to suit each segment. For example, the application provides a 50 percent discount to the non-profit sector. Next year, the application will add additional reporting capabilities.
Cirrus Insight recently revamped its interface to a floating panel display. The panel is displayed immediately after you hover over a contact and displays vitals related to the contact. Using this panel, you can create new tasks, events or log calls. The application also displays a handy list of open activities. Clicking on the appropriate link enables you to take action for that activity. The application scores high on usability as most tasks take less than two clicks
Much like the conversations it fosters between applications, Cirrus Insight also develops conversations between people. The application provides support through multiple channels including social media, email, and phone. In addition, Cirrus Insight also has a lively voting forum where users can vote for interesting new features and ideas into the application.
Cirrus Insight brings the conveniences of two top-rated applications together and makes them even more convenient. It makes life simpler and easier. That is always a good insight, no?