As I was skimming through technology articles this week, I noticed a company that has put what seems to be a new twist on email. But unlike a subject I am typically familiar with, email marketing, this product hits a different topic regarding business email. For those of us who have struggled with Outlook to manage our email correspondence, a new software plugin called Xobni has created an interesting approach on good old business or even personal email. Xobni, which is “inbox” spelled backwards, provides a robust analytics tool for your Outlook inbox.
While I haven’t tried Xobni myself, as an analytics aficionado, I am interested in anything that attempts to bring a story to numbers. The plugin extracts contact information (telephone numbers, addresses, etc.) automatically and provides an enhanced inbox search feature. Xobni uses a social network approach by giving Outlook a nice dashboard showing who is connected to whom. Some of the coolest features promise to display patterns regarding the time of correspondence, frequency of contact, and also social/business groupings of related contacts turning your regular inbox into an intelligent inbox.
Another big plus is that the download is available for free. Of course, I wonder how long the service will last before being snatched up by Microsoft since it provides a service to Outlook users currently not part of their application.
Can our social patterns be determined via email correspondence, and how useful can a tool like this be for small and medium sized businesses?
My initial feeling says this could be a fun addition for Outlook customers (especially those who love statistics). Yet, I have doubts that the intent to define social behavior, like whether or not to send an email to someone, will prove immediately life-changing in terms of business efficiencies.