Sunday, July 1, 2007

Your email address book: it’s not just for email anymore


By Brenda Coxe

The computer age has made many things easier for everyone, and the thought of making a simple telephone call for many people is obsolete. Businesses have taken to recording employees' time online and applications for employment are processed on Web sites instead of in person for many other firms.

A historical perspective

What has happened since the birth of the office email is quite historical, to say the least. Those old enough to remember when it first started can probably relate to the fact that it was not as widely used as it is now -- companies who had email for their employees often limited it to a local intranet so that employees could communicate with other employees within the company's locations.

Emailing anyone outside of the company was either impossible or forbidden. Companies who had the ability to send email outside of the company retained that privilege for supervisors and management who may need to communicate with vendors or customers.

The days of simply having limited interoffice email has gone away with many other 20th Century institutions. In fact, the use of mainframe computer networking to link office locations began to phase out in the late-90s as companies began to rely on the Internet, instead of mainframe servers such as Novell.

That doesn't mean they aren't still used -- Novell, in some form, surely is -- but not to the extent that they were in those pre-Internet days. The turn of the 21st Century found many companies making their businesses Internet-based, thus allowing employees to communicate with other locations, vendors, customers, and even begin the transition to using vendor Web sites to order supplies and materials.

Keeping track of contacts

You may be a master at sending messages, but do you really think about how you keep track of your contacts?

As the concept of Internet Web sites for companies began to blast through the economy, so did the concept of an email readers such as Outlook, Outlook Express, and Lotus Notes, just to name a few. With the introduction of these email readers, business people gained the capability to create more than a list of email names and addresses. Outlook, Outlook Express, Gmail, and Lotus Notes all have the capability to allow a user to create a contact list. Although this is more common with business-based email readers such as Outlook and Lotus Notes, Outlook Express supports this function as well.

Creating a contact list or email address book within an email reader or email program gives you access to information on business contacts within your email program instead of having to carry a personal or electronic address book when you want to contact a business associate, customer, vendor, or client. In addition, it's possible to add personal and business information including addresses, fax numbers, other email addresses.