Email is a necessary evil. Even though social networks like Twitter and Facebook have eaten into our past reliance on communicating by email, there are still a lot of reasons we continue to use it for business and pleasure.
Lynn Greiner, CIO from PC World poignantly notes that while email “is allegedly our servant, let’s face it — we are often its slaves.”
Outlook & its competitors
That “slave factor” could also be stated about our desktop email clients. However when choosing from services such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Zimbra Desktop, IncrediMail, Opera Mail, Zoho, and even GMail, Outlook continues to be the most preferred and the one that’s stood the test of time.
Outlook & Microsoft Exchange
If your email server runs Microsoft Exchange, using Outlook is a “no-brainer.” The two services are transparent and seamless; working together, they reduce the need for IT involvement in client configuration, and they allow users to switch between computers with ease.
Integrating with multiple devices & applications
Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and smartphones can easily sync with Outlook. This also holds true for third-party applications for devices like BlackBerry or various Windows Mobile models.
Anyone who’s familiar with SKYPE and ACT can also integrate with Outlook. With Microsoft Outlook’s plug-ins you can remove duplicates, reply to messages with a template, convert contacts to vCards, send bcc automatically, and much more.
Integrated calendars, tasks, and contact lists
Outlook includes an address book for your contacts, a calendar, task lists, and virtual sticky notes. All these components are integrated so users can easily drag and drop an e-mail message to create an appointment, a task or a note. Tasks may be delegated with one or two clicks.
Additionally, with the purchase of the Outlook version that contains Microsoft Business Contact Manager, Outlook becomes a business in a box for small-to-midsized businesses.
Outook includes a good junk mail filtering system and it has the functionality to block external content such as web bugs, downloaded images, and data from foreign sites. It also disallows executable attachments and prevents the execution of ActiveX applets by default.
User can set up several accounts using the Outlook’s various protocols (including POP3 and IMAP), which can feed into folders and be managed by one set of rules, if you prefer.
Workflow is expedited
Outlook’s messaging isn’t limited to e-mail alone. Companies can set up workflows for functions such as online voting. For example, if a group wants to schedule a business meeting, the coordinator can send a message that offers several options and allows attendees to click a voting button within the e-mail message to send their responses.
Users like software that’s familiar. And since many have used various versions of Outlook over the course of the past decade, this familiarity factor cuts the learning curve. Yes, there’s a lot of functionality that comes part and parcel, but the basics are relatively intuitive for anyone who’s used the software in the past.
According to Grenier, “And since the familiarity extends to the development environment, it’s also relatively easy for developers using Microsoft Visual Studio to interface with Outlook, either to add functionality or to tie it to other corporate applications.”
Web-based CRM or Outlook-based CRM solutions?
While one is not better than the other, there are Outlook CRM (customer relationship management) choices that work very much like Web-Based CRM interfaces, with a few additional features. At Avidian.com, you can take a look at both to determine where the applicable advantages lie for you and/or your individual business.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it all comes down to selecting the right tool for the job. Since that job is primarily email, you might only need some of the features that Outlook Express can offer. Microsoft Outlook, on the other hand is now robust, secure, and versatile enough to take you to the next level.
The extra functionality are the bells and whistles that differentiate this e-mail client from its competitors. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the users to decide how often they require those additional features.