Comparing Cirrus Insights vs Appirio Cloudfactor – A Review

Users of Gmail and Google Apps have always needed better integration between their email and Salesforce, but unlike Outlook & Exchange users, Salesforce hasn’t built an app to facilitate connection.

And we do need a tool to make the following things easier:

  • View a contact’s Salesforce details quickly and easily, even when in the Gmail window.
  • Create a new Salesforce Lead or Contact based on an incoming email
  • When sending an email, create a task that associates that email with the Contact/Lead AND the relevant Case/Opportunity/Account.

Luckily, two different third-party apps bring Salesforce information into the browser, allowing us to see context-relevant records all within the gmail window, without having to look someone up in Salesforce. It’s not just that the apps save time, they allow you to see information you wouldn’t have bothered to look for.

We tried both, giving different users in our office one of the two integration tools. The clear winner was Cirrus Insights, and all users on Appirio requested to move over to Cirrus. For a one line summary, Cirrus is better because it’s on the sidebar and also loads faster. For further details, read on. Or, go ahead and give Cirrus Insights a try, they have 30 day full evaluation, after which you either revert to the free (but limited) version, or pay USD $9 a month. To get 20% off if you do buy, use the coupon code thirdsectorbiz

Both apps have the same idea. For instance, if you get an email from Joe Bloggs, and Joe’s email isn’t in Salesforce, you can create Joe as a Lead or a Contact with just a few clicks. If Joe is in Salesforce, the app shows you all of Joe’s details, as well as details on Joe’s company (Account) and any Opportunities, Cases, tasks, etc. related to Joe. Finally, when you send Joe an email, you can associate that email with Joe and additionally an Account, Opportunity, etc.

The apps don’t do anything magic other than save you 15-20 seconds every email, which is how long the extra clicking and copying and pasting you would have to do if you didn’t have the apps. After 100 emails, you realise the apps are doing something magic – saving you a lot of time.

Appirio Cloudfactor
One major difference between the two apps lies in the implementation. Appirio requires your admin to add some code to Google Apps itself, and in theory will be easier to roll out across a large number of users, as it is truly a cloud app. There’s a youtube video covering Appirio Cloudfactor Setup.

We didn’t exhaustively test this on all browsers, but it worked on what we tried. It does not, sadly, work on the iPad.

Appirio places the Salesforce content in the middle of the gmail window, below the incoming message, and above any reply you might write. While this is a decent placement in theory, this led our users to significant frustration. Checking Salesforce info required having to scroll up and down, whether reading an email or writing one. Cloudfactor reduces the all important vertical real-estate on your browser, which is one of the major reasons we aren’t using it. This sounds minor, but it turns out to be a huge use issue, if only because it adds a minor distraction and 3-5 seconds of additional work every email.

Additionally, Appirio seems to take a second or two longer to load, leaving you with a slightly annoying lag time.

Cirrus Insight
Cirrus Insight accomplishes its integration through either a Firefox or Chrome plugin. This means that it’s not a cloud solution – you will need to have it setup on each and every browser / user you have. For a small team, this took no time. We have a BYOD policy, and all users added the extension in about a minute. We tested it on Mac and Windows, and it worked great on both.

In terms of the user experience and layout, Cirrus Insight appears on the page faster than Appirio, and most importantly, shows up on the Gmail / Google Apps right-hand sidebar. The new release even politely hides itself with a single click, showing the usual sidebar (and allowing for  use of other gmail sidebar tools, such as Rapportive).

The reason the side placement is so important is that in this world of widescreen monitors and laptops, vertical space is simply more valuable.

Cirrus can be occasionally flaky, deciding not to show a contact’s details, but on the rare times this happens, the fix is just a second away – I just reload my Google Apps Gmail browser tab, and this fixes everything.

Non-profits can get 50% off Cirrus Insights, contact us or Cirrus for the non-profit coupon code.

Even if you’re not a non-profit, you can get 20% off by using our coupon code,

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