Monday, December 13, 2010

Google Contacts Synchronization

Synchronization has become a dirty word around here. Last week, Nick Carter shared his thoughts on the insanity of synchronization--much to the audiences delight (surprisingly)--during a panel discussion with InfoSmack. It's clunky. It's error-ridden. And it should be used as a last resort only.

That said, yes... AddressTwo does sync. To keep things simple, we allow contacts to be synchronized to Google Contacts. Why? First, because so many small businesses are moving to Google's docs, email, and other business solutions. Second, because Google Contacts synchronize with so many other platforms -- like iPhones, blackberries, and even Outlook -- that it's silly for us to create those ties individually. Instead, sync to Google and let Google sync to everything.

But, there are a few pitfalls to avoid that will reduce some of this inevitable error we've come to expect:
  1. Use AddressTwo as the primary point of data entry. If you're going to use AddressTwo, then resolve to make it you primary database. You only sync to other devices for ease of access, but do not expect additions through your Outlook or your phone to find their way into AddressTwo with any sort of intelligence. Why? Because, we track more. Your cell phone won't ask for the contact's industry, or their role in the sales process. Rely on A2 first and you'll avoid a lot of headache.
  2. Make sure your data is clean. Many of the "errors" that get reported about synchronization have to do with poor data. For example, mock first names like "John Doe" or "None" can actually cause false matching. If there are 40 "none's" in your database, how does Google know they're different people? They're not! The old maxim "garbage in and garbage out" holds true.
  3. Check the integrity of the sync the first time. After your first successful sync, check a few contacts to make sure that data was mapped as you expected it. It is much easier to correct issues after the first go-round than after multiple bad sync's.
Finally... and most importantly... just try not to sync. Seriously. Broadband is available in every corner of the earth, practically. Synchronization is most often used as a crutch to help people avoid actually changing their practices and using AddressTwo to it's fullest. Consider using the mobile edition of AddressTwo instead of synchronization. Consider using AddressTwo in lieu of Outlook Contacts, not in conjunction. The bottom line is: you can't have two databases without trouble. It will only cause problems.

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