We recently wrote about analytics being the key benefit of the small business web (aka the cloud). Access to analytics gives you more intelligence so you can make better decisions or at least avoid making poor decisions. A poor decision can be worse than making no decision, although you may actually learn something. Too many poor decisions and you’ll be out of business.
A common refrain we hear when small business web apps are introduced is “Can I share my data between app #1 and app #2?” Recently we’ve heard a request to shared data between Outlook and Highrise, our CRM of choice. This is not really a form of analytics, but it is the foundation of building good analytics — allowing quality data to flow between web apps. The act of stitching superior small business web apps is an art, just like stitching a beautiful quilt.
To our surprise, after some experimentation with this problem, we were pleasantly surprised by an integration we found between Google Apps (Gmail) and Highrise. There are some hidden aspects of using a Gmail extension called Rapportive that allows you to add contacts directly to Highrise, as well as notes and tasks for those contacts.
One of the coolest things about the web of interconnected information is that you can quite easily add intelligence easily to existing intelligence as long as the conduit exists. Gmail on its own has a contacts database that you populate. Email addresses are saved when you use them to send or receive emails. But that’s all that is saved into Google Contacts. You know other information is tied to people’s email addresses, but how do you access it quickly without Google searching?
Enter Rapportive – an excellent plugin for Gmail that creates a new panel when you are looking at an email in Gmail. It collects a ton of data for you auto-magically, and exposes this data as you view an email. Your recipients latest social media connections, their phone numbers and now a link to their Highrise information.
Here is what a screen shot looks like with Rapportive and the Highrise-Rapportive “raplet“. This is a great newsletter I receive from my friend Dan Pink. See that info on the right, that’s all added details from all over the net, directly linked by the email address Rapprotive has collected. And there is a quick way to add this contact into Highrise (small red box on the right). If they are already in Highrise you will see their information from Highrise.
What’s really cool is that when you add a contact using this mechanism, the raplet adds the LinkedIn and Twitter information into Highrise which also makes that information available inside Highrise saving you at least 6 steps (find each link, copy and paste each link) for every contact.