The CRM Rising Stars Awards: Six Top Innovating CRM Companies for 2018

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Our Rising Star awards can go to fresh faces or industry vets, but what unites our six winning vendors are the innovative products, services, and integrations they’ve been hard at work developing over the past year. So if you’re looking for, say, a fully integrated cloud-based bundle of customer engagement software, or an augmented reality app that allows you to create a virtual product display, or mobile wallet passes that can be personalized for each customer, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Seven years after its launch as a customer service technology provider, Freshdesk rebranded last year under the name Freshworks to reflect a companywide expansion into marketing, sales, and recruiting management. Its new innovations include robust additions to Freshsales, as well as Freshchat, a suite of web and mobile messaging apps to help businesses capture leads and drive sales. Read more about its marketing expansion here.

LinkedIn is far from a start-up, but the platform, which Microsoft bought in June 2016 for $2.6 billion, has taken steps to enable companies to engage with its community of 500 million business professionals. And it has done so with a greater emphasis on its Marketing Solutions and Sales Solutions suites, both of which it has been enhancing in recent months. Read more here.

Founded in 1998, Pittsburgh-based Mindmatrix had been quiet for two decades, but that changed this year: In February, it launched a leaderboard feature for its sales enablement platform and partner relationship management software, allowing sales and channel managers to see top-performing sales reps and partners based on parameters such as emails sent, assets accessed and used, login counts, lead counts, closure ratios, and number of leads closed. In March, it added an electronic contract signing feature that relies on encryption and access codes to meet security and legal requirements. Read on to see what else the vendor had in store in 2018. 

Showpad has launched what is being hailed as the first augmented reality application for B2B e-commerce and sales enablement. The AR capabilities, supported through Apple’s ARKit, promise to provide a more immersive buyer experience; with them, salespeople can leverage 3-D models through Showpad’s iOS mobile app to leave lasting impressions with prospects. They can project virtual product displays within the context of the buyers’ actual environments, allowing them to showcase products without having to place them in costly brick-and-mortar showrooms. Which is extremely cool, and it's not all the vendor was up to in 2018. Read more here.

Portland, Ore.,-based Urban Airship provides a mobile engagement platform and digital wallet solution, and it's high level of activity in past 12 months indicates how this technology is poised to take off. Among its new features and enhancements are Adaptive Pass Management, which enables marketers to create mobile wallet passes individualized for each customer and orchestrate automated pass content updates and lockscreen notifications; enhancements to Urban Airship Insight, which now includes predictive analytics and can analyze user data from any marketing channel or digital property, with lists of users behind every report; and AI marketing orchestration, which uses predictive machine learning to allow marketers to deliver notifications at the moment an individual is most likely to engage. Read more here.

Cloud computing and bundled suites that result in lower costs have threatened the open-source CRM market, but X2CRM, founded in 2011, is on a mission to sustain it: Following a recent change in leadership and corporate reorganization, the company, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., is ready to spark renewed interest in open source. Today, X2CRM’s solutions have been translated into more than 15 languages and the company has more than 40,000 deployments under its belt. Find out how, and what it has planned for the future.

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