Gmail Integration Battle - Cirrus Insight vs Appirio Cloudworks

Dan Fowlie January 17, 2012

For those who believe in the cloud the combination of using Google Apps for email and Salesforce.com for CRM is all too common. Here at Trineo we’ve been using both products for years but the integration of the two products over that time has been sadly lacking. Salesforce.com’s own ‘integration’ with Gmail is far too cumbersome requiring users to bcc an email to a specific address. At last two partners have brought good integrations to market.

Cirrus Insight

In late 2011 Cirrus Insight came to my attention. This was exactly what I’d been waiting for. The ability to view contextual information pulled from Salesforce.com inside Gmail based on the email you are ready. Cirrus Insight displays Lead or Contact information, related activities, opportunities and cases. If the information doesn’t exist you can create a new Lead or Contact, and associate the email you’re viewing with the record. All this information is displayed in a sidebar to the right of your email with a Salesforce look and feel.

The integration works as a browser extension so is simple to install but only works with Chrome and Firefox.

Cirrus costs US$9 / user / month but has an introductory special

Install CirrusInsight

Appirio Cloudworks

Cloudworks has been around for a year or two but has been hard to track down. Youtube videos have existed showing a great looking product but when I’ve made enquires with Appirio I’ve never been able to actually get a trial or use the product. Perhaps given a hurry up by Cirrus Insight that all changed last week when Cloudworks debuted on the Google Marketplace. Cloudworks is a Gmail Contextual Gadget so embeds itself underneath your email content. It provides very similar functionality to Cirrus Insight but also has Chatter feeds. As a contextual gadget Cloudworks will work with any browser.

Installing Cloudworks is slightly more involved for an administrator but once setup it’s easy for each user to setup their connection to Salesforce.com and start displaying and adding information from within Gmail.

In addition to Gmail, Cloudworks provides a sidebar for Google Calendar.

Cloudworks costs US$4 / user / month for Standard Edition and US$6 / user / month for Enterprise Edition.

Install Cloudworks

Conclusion It’s great to see these products that customers have been craving finally come to market. It’s a shame that Salesforce.com didn’t build an official integration like this a long time ago.

After using the 2 products side by side (literally with Cirrus Insight to the right of an email and Cloudworks underneath) I’d give the slight edge to Cloudworks at this time. They are both very good products but Cloudworks is slightly cheaper and offers a little bit more functionality.

No longer can it be an excuse that it’s too hard to keep the CRM up to date!

Dan Fowlie

Dan Fowlie

With more than a decade in the ecosystem, Dan lives and breathes Salesforce. He applies business acumen to client challenges to come up with solutions that extracts the most value out of the platform. Outside of work, Dan embraces "Kaizen" and likes to hack his day to day life as much as possible.