Feature review: Syncing contacts

Contacts and contact information has always been around in Outlook since it first was created. Still in Office 365 you access your contacts with Outlook or with a smart phone that you've connected to your Office 365 account.

Contacts are private in Outlook

Contacts that you have in Outlook are your private contacts, and there is no practical way to share contact information between your co-workers.

I know that you can store contacts as global contacts in Exchange, but there is no easy way to do this, and accessing them is a bit harder than our Outlook contacts. I've also heard about companies where global contacts, i.e. contacts intended for the whole company, are stored in one user's Outlook contacts and then shared with all co-workers. Needless to say, that this is a bit of a hack.

Another problem with the contacts you have In Outlook is that they lack the concept of a Company. Yes, you can store the name of the company for all contacts you have in Outlook, but that is just a separate field, and each contact has their own company field. If you have 50 contacts from the same company, and the name of the company changes, you need to change 50 contacts separately.

In Bisnest, we've separated companies from contacts, where each have their own set of data. Contacts are just linked to companies instead of storing company information with each contact separately.

Connecting contacts to Outlook

Having your contacts in Outlook is something that we all have been doing ever since Outlook was released. And when you connect your smart phone to Office 365, you automatically have your contacts available on your smart phone too. This has become the norm that everybody just feel familiar with. Anybody trying to come up with a different way of handling contacts will have a long an winding road ahead of them. That is not the road that we intend to take.

In Bisnest, we have our own contacts database. This is because we need to connect contacts to other things in Bisnest, like companies, activities or proposals, just to mention a few. We also want to share contact information with all Bisnest users. But, we are not trying to create a new norm for handling contacts.

This is why we allow each Bisnest user to select the contacts they want to have available in their personal Outlook contacts list and we'll take care of syncing them almost in real-time whenever there is a change. You don't even have to be logged on to Bisnest. It is enough that you've selected the contacts you want, and we'll take care of the rest for you. Couldn't be much easier could it?

Available to all users

As you probably have read on our site, we build Bisnest as modules that you can activate for your company when you need that functionality. The contact sync functionality is included in the Customers module at no extra charge. The Customers module is the first module that you use in Bisnest, so in practice, the contacts sync functionality is available to all Bisnest users.

So, sign up for our beta programme now to make sure that your business contacts are in sync across all your co-workers.

Mika Berglund