Inconsistent contact data sharing policy ruining user experience

If you are online today, chances are that you have an account with at least two if not more of the big internet companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft. Yahoo and LinkedIn.

While Google, Microsoft and Yahoo provide primarily email services to a logged in user, Facebook and LinkedIn provides social and/ or business networking. All five though have many commonalities, the biggest being the ability of store a large number of “Contacts” or “Friends” and their details.

Information storage is rapidly moving online and accessed and then stored on multiple devices – mobile phone, desktop clients etc. We need to address the issue of data consistency and remove duplication of effort to keep data updated across multiple platforms.

Our experience with Google Apps

This is a complex task but not impossible. Our experience in creating bi-directional sync between data in Google and our platform has been quite good. We have ensured that you can enter business contact data in one of the two platforms and not only transfer the data to the other platform but also ensure that edits on one platform show up on the other.

So, if you are working on your contact list in Saleswah CRM, if you make a change in a contact record in the CRM (On the Phone, the Desktop Windows 8 App or on the Web) or in Google- whether on the web or on the connected Android phone- you make changes only in one place and have it show up on the other. We were so kicked about it that we wanted to replicate the same thing across all platforms- Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn etc. The first hurdle we faced was from Microsoft.

Microsoft- we like to micromanage

The linking process went through reasonably smoothly. But, for a long time we could not figure out why we are not getting all the information in the Contact Records that I had in my account. Then, after some digging, we discovered that Microsoft does not make available information about the Contacts that Google makes available readily. The most important missing information was that of the Company that my contact (s) worked for.

This was a disaster.

For one, if we found a Contact Record in Microsoft which is already available in CRM, we will not be able to ever sync the information the way we sync with Google- Microsoft will never show the company name and we would show that we do and there will be a mismatch.

Why has Microsoft done this? We sniffed around online and the latest discussion we found on this was pretty old. It was interesting nevertheless, so we are reproducing a snapshot here. Those who want to read the entire thread, can click on the picture and follow the link.

Data sharing policies

Basically, Microsoft says that it is okay to share email addresses and/ or mobile numbers of a user’s contacts but not okay to share the place of work. Does that even make sense? And by the way, this is information that the user owned and decided to keep in Microsoft for later use only to find that he can’t.

LinkedIn- without a way to contact

If this was not bad enough, we tried linking with LinkedIn and we found that they share everything but the email address of your contact records. Great!

Why would you want to store your Contacts in your CRM without the ability to contact them? Again, it does not make sense.

I am almost scared to try out Yahoo! now. I have a feeling it will not be a great experience.

Why is there such a disconnect?

To be honest, I am not even sure. I would love to get an answer. In the case of Microsoft, it seems like a not clearly thought out policy. In either case, I find there are simply no good reasons for this.

 

Folks we want to thank

Google

Firstly, we want to thank Google for letting us use Google Apps for free.
Google Apps is the suite of office productivity tools like Gmail, Calendar, Docs, that all businesses today need to run- no matter whether you use Microsoft or Open Office or Google.

We use Microsoft Office but we also use Google Apps for sharing and collaboration. And, our email runs on Google Apps. The same look and feel of Gmail, the same fantastic anti-spam features; except that it is integrated with our domain. So, we can mail you from anwesha dot in rather than having to conduct business from a personal looking abc** at gmail dot com or even, (horror!) abc.anwesha@gmail.com.

Google Apps for business is free for upto 10 users; after that it is 5$ per month per user. For that you get huge storage, secure IT infrastructure and all the office apps that you possibly need. It’s a no-brainer; especially if you consider the alternative is to worry about hardware, software, hosting, connectivity and so on.

Fusioncharts

The reason Saleswah charts look so good is because we use Fusion Charts to output them to! And, believe it or not, Fusion Charts has a free version as well; which we use!

Fusion charts is a tool for creating great charts, gauges and maps. We code the logic behind each report, dump the XML into Fusion chart and Fusion chart converts that into pretty nice looking charts.

…and, even though we have already thanked them, once more won’t harm..

We want to thank Microsoft for making available all the development tools and office productivity tools worth thousands of dollars for free under the Microsoft BizSpark program. Thanks, Microsoft. No matter what anyone says, you rock!

 

 

Working with Google Tasks from Saleswah

Saleswah provides the cleanest Google Apps CRM integration!

Have you ever wished that you did not have to go out of your “office” environment and into the CRM environment only to track sales related tasks and activities. We just made it possible to sync Google Tasks with Saleswah CRM.

It is simple. So simple that we refuse to post a video; seriously!

All we will say is this. If you are using Saleswah CRM using your Google Apps domain email address then you can download your assigned tasks to your Google Apps Tasks where they will also appear on your calendar.

These tasks will be tagged “Saleswah”. You can mark them as complete or change the target date and have the changes reflected in the Saleswah CRM or vice versa.

Yes, bi-directional sync of tasks between Saleswah CRM and Google Apps is now live. Sign up for a free account now.