There are many companies, such as Avidian, makers of CRM tool Prophet, who sell software that add-on to Microsoft Outlook, making it more powerful than it already is.
Many businesses use Excel, due to its simplicity, to manage contacts and other information.
Most professionals, including myself, rely on Microsoft Outlook, and it works quite fine for them.
I wondered, however, why professionals should consider add-on
programs which can provide Outlook with more features and capabilities.
Can a business get along fine with just using Outlook?
Hundreds of thousands of businesses use tools such as ACT!, Batch Book, Maximizer, Prophet, Gold Mine Software
and other software to manage their contacts, sales and customers. All
of these tools offer some level of integration into Outlook while
extending its functionality.
In my interview below, James Wong, President of Avidian, helps
shed some light on the “Outlook – Outlook add-on – Standalone”
So many businesses use Microsoft Outlook, as opposed to other email clients. Why is this?
For many years, Microsoft has been the de facto standard for
business computing. They have dominated with their operating system and
all of the other integrated applications that are often automatically
installed on new computers. Microsoft Outlook is just one of those
components. With this kind of reach, it is no surprise to see the
resulting “standardization.” Recently, I’ve seen articles highlighting
Apple’s push into the business sector, but Microsoft still maintains
its heavy leadership status.
Outlook is quite powerful and does have a number of useful features out of the box. What are some of its most useful features?
Microsoft has taken great strides to make Outlook more intuitive,
particularly with the latest version, Outlook 2007. The menus have been
reorganized to follow a more logical thought process and they have
tried to make contact management as easy as possible.
On the other hand, there are many solutions, such as Avidian’s
Prophet that make Microsoft Outlook a more powerful tool. What are some
of these features, in brief?
As much as Microsoft tries to upgrade and update Outlook, it still
remains a Personal Information Manager (PIM). As a result, there are
several aspects that are missing from its features that just can’t
exist without a more fully functioning CRM application. The problem for
most businesses arises when they try to use their email in conjunction
with a separate CRM offering. Suddenly, they are split between two
applications and have to continually jump back and forth. Because they
do not completely function together, there is always a risk that some
information will be lost when transferring to the other database.
Avidian’s Prophet is built within Outlook and is so seamlessly
integrated that it often simply looks like an Outlook plug in. However,
Prophet’s features expand Outlook from a PIM to a true CRM offering,
providing comprehensive customer tracking capabilities and sales
pipeline documentation. Through Prophet, managers can instantaneously
generate reports on current sales leads and can gain a much greater
insight into the health of the business. Avidian’s technology also
allows sales representatives to generate formalized quote documents to
email customers based on the tracking information they entered. Through
its advanced email features, employees can generate mass emails to
maintain contact with potential customers, a process that—with
Microsoft products alone—requires a more complicated process involving
Outlook, Word and Excel.
Can you discuss the aspect of using Outlook with an add-on, as opposed to using a standalone product?