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Catching up with your contacts

Opinion
Apr 28, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Auto update of your contacts-list

Keeping your contacts database up-to-date is always a pain. People change jobs or companies, get a different office, get married, move to a different city or change their e-mail address, and then when you absolutely need to get hold of them you have to scramble to get the right details.

A Web-based service that addresses this problem is GoodContacts, published by GoodContacts Research (see links below).

GoodContacts works through a desktop application that integrates with Outlook, Act!, Exchange or ODBC databases (MS Access, SQL Server, Oracle, FileMaker Pro, Sybase). It allows you to select which entries in your contacts you want to verify and then e-mails those contacts a copy of the data you have for them.

If they wish to correct their entry they click on a link embedded in the message which takes them to a secure Web server form where they can edit the data and add additional comments if they wish. When they are satisfied, they submit the form and an e-mail message is generated and sent back to you.

Your GoodContacts client fields the message, authenticates the contents and then updates the contact record.

GoodContacts can also build your contact database by examining incoming messages and makes a list of unknown senders. When you run the GoodContacts application it lists all of the new contacts and asks if you want to create a record for each one. Optionally, you can have GoodContacts send an update request to flesh out all of the missing contact details.

GoodContacts only works with Outlook and OutlookExpress at your end (the contact you are trying to verify can be running any e-mail client).

The role of the Web form is key as it ensures successful structured data entry by the contact you are trying to verify no matter what e-mail client or Web browser they are using. 

GoodContacts Solo, Professional Edition costs $49.95 per user and support modules for Microsoft Exchange Public Folders. ODBC-Compliant Databases are $399.95 each for site licenses.

There is also a Custom Email Template Creator so you can add your logo and colors to the update request ($49.95 for the first copy and $9.95 for each additional copy). An add-on ($24.95 per user) is available that protect contacts under Outlook and Outlook Express from accidental deletion, theft, or device failure by automatically backing up your contact lists to a secure off-site location.

GoodContacts Enterprise adds support for SalesLogix and Interface Software’s InterActio, as well as enterprise features such as business rules to limit the frequency of update requests to contacts and automatically creates an audit trail. Enterprise pricing is provided on application.

mark_gibbs

Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at http://gibbs.com/mgbio

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