Of all of the tools used on a daily basis by the business community that is most out of date is Outlook’s Contacts section. Important segments of this are probably now at least ten years out of date. Here is a reminder of the sorry state of affairs of the current application:
For me the saving grace is that I am able to combine Outlook with Plaxo which will ensure that my connections are updated regularly.
After the name field there is a catalogue of problems.
The ‘Company’ field, needs to be more intelligent that it currently is. Firstly if I use the name of a company that is already in my database then it should be able to provide options for other fields on the form e.g. address and phone number so that I do not have to re-type these. Maybe an option to ‘copy from another contacts record’ could be implemented. Secondly I know several people that work with multiple organisations and have separate details for each organisation.
I would like to see a series of tabs for each organisation this would allow me to collect information about one person all in a single location. The tabs would probably be something like:
This would then open up room for further information about the contact to be stored. Doing this I can then record several web sites for a single contact for example. The key is that people now have a multitude of contact points they may wish to use at various times or locations, each needs to be stored.
There are also a number of new ways that people can be reached. For example Skype ID’s are starting to be commonly used and can double as either a phone number replacement or an Instant Messenger (IM) connection. Most of my connections who use Skype simply find a place to kludge the ID into outlook somewhere. There should be a field for ID’s that link onto various IM systems and of course to Social Media sites. Microsoft must accept the fact that they are not the only game in town and provide a mechanism to add other services.
I think it is important for a contact to have several IM addresses recorded against them, some can be work related, some personal – there needs to be space for each.
Going next to phone numbers I have always like the fact that you can change the description of the phone number, but there are not enough business ones I would add “Free Phone” 1 and 2 into the list at a minimum or have an option at the bottom of the list that allows me to add more. If my tabs idea is added then phone numbers are added to the relevant tab. In addition that details page can be put in the appropriate location and become more visible.
There is no place currently to record a person’s Social Media site memberships. I think this should be added to the personal tab. I then know what a person’s Facebook page is and can link to it from my Outlook record for example. Of course when it comes to Social Media we are joining a multitude of them so we should be able to leverage our own personal Outlook record to record this information.
On the notes field I often add details about our meeting, but I often forget to date it – it would be good if Outlook could add date details to each change I make.
When I export a person’s details (e.g. drop their .vcf into an email) I should be able to control what information is sent. e.g. it may be inappropriate to send details of a persons alternative role in that virtual card and certainly no personal note data should ever be sent.
There are other problems associated with Outlook Contacts, but if Microsoft were to take a look at the existing applications then this would be a good starting point.
Tags: Applications, Social Media