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The 2014 CRM Rising Stars
The vendors we honor made significant advances in a variety of areas this year, giving clients of all kinds the opportunity to grow and compete in a challenging business environment.
For the rest of the August 2014 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Cirruspath: Adapting Google for the Enterprise

More than 5 million companies use Google applications, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and Google Docs, representing a sizable audience with unmet enterprise needs. This is exactly what Cirruspath aims to address.

The Laguna Hills, CA, company, founded in 2011, developed its Cirrus Insight software to integrate Gmail and other Google applications with Salesforce.com. Users can create, view, and manage leads, contacts, tasks, cases, and opportunities from their Gmail inboxes; data syncs automatically.

Cirrus' technology is based on a browser extension that installs in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox and instantly displays contextual customer information alongside email in Gmail. Users can also save email and attachments to their CRM systems with a single click.

But Cirrus doesn't only work with Salesforce.com and Google. In the past year alone, it partnered with Eloqua, Pardot, Hubspot, ExactTarget, Zendesk, Desk.com, and Quickbooks for out-of-the-box integrations with Gmail.

Cirrus' newest app, released in late May, is Cirrus Files: Google Drive Integration for Salesforce.com. The app enables users to manage and sync files between Salesforce.com and Google Drive. As users create new contacts, accounts, opportunities, or any other object in Salesforce.com, Cirrus Files will create a corresponding folder in Google Drive.

In November, the company unveiled a pilot program for its new iOS mobile app for use with Apple iPhone devices. Android and iPad versions are planned.

Cirrus also announced a partnership with UberConference to bring free video conference calling to Gmail. After a call is completed, Cirrus Insight logs it and adds the relevant information to the Salesforce.com and Gmail records.

To top off a year that saw the company expand up-market beyond its core base of smaller businesses, Cirrus was named one of five finalists in the 2013 CRM Idol competition.

Brent Leary, cofounder of CRM Essentials, says the company isn't working on rocket science, but that doesn't diminish its value. "They're helping folks who use two of the most common business applications—Salesforce.com and email—use them together to be more productive," he says. "It really gets to the heart of how people need to leverage CRM and email together in a more cohesive manner."

The company is constantly on the move, Leary says. "They're pulling more experiences together all the time and improving on them."

Curalate: Unlocking the Visual Web

Drawing on cave walls before they could speak, humans have always been visual beings. Centuries later, little has changed, according to Apu Gupta, cofounder and CEO of Curalate, a visual analytics provider. On a daily basis, Internet users share more than 1.8 billion images, and as brands become increasingly aware of the role that social media plays in customer engagement, marketers are finding ways to harness the power of this largely unstructured social Web data.

Founded in 2012 by Gupta and Nick Shiftan, Curalate offers solutions on two fronts. The first is a dashboard tool that enables marketers to take a brand-owned image, share it via social channels, and track how it gets shared throughout the Web. The second—Curalate's FanReel product—captures user-generated images, allowing marketers to match them to items in a brand's catalog, and turn fan photos into ads featuring clickable, buyable products. Curalate is the only visual analytics vendor that "works both ways," Courtney Eckerle, a MarketingSherpa analyst, says.

Though straightforward, the technology is not simple."Our technology works like a massive memory game. It memorizes every single pixel in a given image, and flips each pixel over in other images to determine whether there's a match, reading over 200 million images daily," Gupta explains.

Originally, Curalate was focused on Pinterest, but quickly added Facebook and Instagram analytics to its offerings. In early 2014, the company extended its platform to Tumblr. "Consumers don't live on one network," Gupta says. "They browse on Pinterest and then brag on Instagram. We believe that these are the new bookends to the shopping process."

Curalate works with 425 brands, including Neiman Marcus, Gap, Kraft Foods, and Sephora. "Curalate helps its customers collect deep insights on how their campaigns are performing and use them to boost engagement, all while allowing companies to stay true to their brands and integrate easily. Clients uniformly rave about it," Eckerle says.

But more than customers are pleased with Curalate. The social networks that it operates on have recognized the company as well—in April 2014, Tumblr invited Curalate to join its A-list partner program, naming the vendor its only visual analytics partner, and in May, Pinterest selected Curalate to participate in the newly launched alpha of its MarTech initiative, making Curalate one of a few third-party software developers to gain access to the Pinterest Business Insights API. "Curalate is a really innovative, smart company," Eckerle says, "and I think we'll be seeing big things from them."

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To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
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