September 18, 2009, 10:39 PM — Nowadays, I bounce between two different worlds in e-mail. In one, I support and work in an Exchange/Outlook environment, and in the other I manage my non-corporate life using Gmail. While I like Outlook, its old-school design can be a bit frustrating to me. To be precise, I'm annoyed that Microsoft has yet to implement conversation threading into its flagship mail client.
This is precisely why I'm thrilled with Xobni. Xobni is an Outlook plug-in, which vastly extends the functionality of Outlook. Not only does it organize e-mails into threaded conversations, but it is an incredibly useful contact and e-mail management tool. It pulls contact information from several different sources, including your database of Outlook e-mails, Linked-In profiles, Facebook, Hoovers, and Yahoo mail. Xobni is available in both a free version and a $30 Plus version.
At the very top, you'll notice a search bar. This does exactly what you'd expect. Type in the contact or text you want to locate and Xobni will find it nearly instantly. The search feature in the free product is effective, yet stripped to the bare minimum as to nudge people towards the $30 Xobni Plus product which implements advanced search features.
Below the search bar is the very basis for Xobni. You'll find an information profile created for each person you communicate with. This is automatic for every individual with whom you exchange e-mail. If there is a phone number, address, or company name in an e-mail from a contact, that contact's information profile automatically gets populated. It's the same thing if one of your contact's e-mail addresses matches a profile on Facebook, Yahoo or Linked-In. Company information is automatically pulled from Hoovers.
Just below the contact window are icons for Contact Statistics, Xobni Actions, and the social networking sites. Contact statistics features a graph showing what times people send you e-mail so you can quickly identify when it's best to contact them. Additionally it ranks that person with regards to the number of e-mails exchanged and displays the balance between sent and received e-mails.
Xobni Actions supplies you with quick temples for asking a contact for their phone number or to schedule a meeting. Icons for Linked-In, Facebook, and Hoovers allow you to quickly pull information from these sites including Facebook updates.