I’ve been a huge advocate of Xobni for a long, long time. When I started using it, it was a powerful tool to fix a specific problem; now it’s an app that every smartphone user should be using.
I first discovered Xobni around five years’ ago when it was in its infancy. It was initially a turbocharged version of search for Outlook that lived in a special side bar. It handled threaded conversations and generally made managing mail simple, as well as collating info about my contacts together for me. It showed me how many emails, links and files I had exchanged with the contact. I could click on a link and open that file or email from within the sidebar. Very clever and helpful: making your life easier by putting all your data in one place.
Xobni would find stuff that would defeat classic Outlook search in the older versions of Office (2003). Over time, it added integration to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter so that it would discover and link that live update data to the contact in the Xobni tool bar. So up until about 18 months’ ago, it was a great tool to maximise your use of Outlook and put lots of useful data at your fingertips. It was like a “get out of jail free” card for finding stuff!
One of its lesser known features was how it created relationships between contacts: it could find all the people you had ever been cc’d into an email with and make them a Xobni contact. It would know who you had directly contacted and who you were just in a cc’d mail with, so you could establish relationships, search for connections, get introductions and generally be a smarty pants on your email communications.
It also offers email analytics. For example, you can measure almost any aspect of your email volume, response time or effectiveness. You can see how many emails you’ve exchanged with someone, how long it takes you to reply or them to reply to you. You can see who emails you the most, least and at what time of day/week/month you get the most/least emails. The business intelligence this gives you is very powerful if you need to measure the effectiveness of the communications in your business and which business doesn’t need that? You know who jumps to attention and who needs a shove on email. Maybe it’s better to give them a call?
This was great and a common part of the toolset in the Efficient Thinking training I deliver. But what changed everything and made it an essential tool was the launch of the Smartr Contacts apps for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android handsets. At the same time, Xobni rolled out the Xobni Cloud service. This glued all of my emails in Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo Mail together with your phone and other contacts. Suddenly all your contacts from everything you used were in one place, searchable with relationships and basic email history/data analytics built in!
It meant there was a cloud back up of all my contacts if I needed them, all my disparate contact sources were merging into one powerful, searchable address book and I could see all of the top level email history of our interactions. I could call, email, Facebook or Tweet them from the one app.
So where’s the downside? There’s always a downside. The first is that the “special sauce” is only really in the paid for version at $48 a year or $7.99 a month; the free version ties itself into the auto-complete on email addresses and “allegedly” hijacks your auto-completes unless you pay for the full version. It doesn’t really do that but certainly gives that impression to end users. Some of the funky cloud syncing/back up doesn’t play ball unless you pay for it. Plus some of the nice sidebar features around links and appointments are disabled. Xobni Free is certainly functional, has its place and will suit many users but Xobni really does benefit from a full subscription.
The other downside: it’s reportedly a resource hog in some set-ups As it uses the Outlook PST file, some IT managers are nervy about using it in case it causes corruption or hogs memory. Arguably, Outlook is as likely a culprit of data corruption and memory hogging!
Other than that, I don’t see why not to use it. The apps are free, there’s a free version to trial so you can see if it works for you and your business. You can try it on your personal email first in Gmail/Yahoo Mail and then extend out to business use.
Download a trial now and see how Xobni can make you work Smartr. If you want to learn more about how Outlook and smarter thinking about email can help your workload, look at the training on offer from our sister brand, Efficient Thinking.