For those long-suffering Lotus Notes e-mail users who had a jones for the same functionality as Microsoft Outlook users, TechCrunch noted the arrival of a new plug-in from Gist that provides information about your e-mail contacts. As their post says, the Gist plug-in for Notes and Outlook brings the same type of contact information that can be found in Xobni.
Gist has had a Web-based service (in beta) that enables connections to your online contacts. Once you connect directly to Google Mail and social media sites, or upload contacts from your LinkedIn or SalesForce accounts, it will start to aggregate information about your contacts.
This can be a great way to mine e-mail conversations that you have had with someone. Clicking on their name, you see a list of shared contacts, correspondence with that person, and you can see just the attachments that you have shared as part of those e-mails. Because it can look beyond a single application, you can see more about your communications as well as have a richer understanding of contacts about whom you know little. It suggests network connections between you and others, suggests photographs to add to the contact record for an individual, and let’s you look at a quick “profile” of any of your contacts.
One feature I find particularly useful is the “merge” function. If you have multiple contacts from a single company and the automatic categorization has put them in two or more companies (Smith & Jones, Smithjones.com, S&J), you can select all of the companies (or if you have multiple records for an individual) and merge them into a single organization record.
There are some other features that I’m not sure quite how I’d use right now – like the “importance slider” that indicates how important someone is to you, which is great for customer relationship management (CRM) but not something I need – but just the ability to call up a person and get all of the information (and be able to deal with attachments separately!) is a great asset.
The plug-in connects your e-mail software (and data in your e-mail server) to Gist, which should make it more powerful. I will look forward to trying the Notes plug-in and seeing how it fares. It can’t make Lotus Notes any worse, at least!!