Throughout the history of GroupWise, there are few features that are as full of controversy and are as divisive as the Frequent Contacts address book. This feature has created a love/hate relationship with several users of the product. In fact, some of the most passionate supporters and users of GroupWise have regularly told me that they completely disable this feature for themselves, their organization, and even their customers. This feature, for one or more specific reasons, has caused so much grief.
The history of the Frequent Contacts book is actually quite fascinating…well at least for me. I was one of the original engineers that worked on the Address Book and consequently the Frequent Contacts. My responsibility was more localized and focused to the Name Completion Control (NCC), however, the NCC is powered by the Frequent Contacts. As you know, the NCC makes addressing an email or appointment significantly easier as it quickly searches and provides suggested Contacts for the user as they type each character of a contact’s name. The books that are searched have been controlled by a setting in the Address Book called the Name Completion Search Order. By default, the first address book that is searched is the Frequent Contacts. Note: In GroupWise 2014, the Name Completion Search Order has been removed and you no longer have to manage this order. Relevance determines the order.
It seems obvious that the contacts you would want to search first and find the quickest would be the ones that you use/address most frequently. To this end, GroupWise, by default, automatically captures any address you successfully complete a ‘send’ action and saves it in your Frequent Contacts book. You can also configure the Frequent Contacts to automatically capture and save email addresses of contacts who send you email. Searching the Frequent Contacts book first also, over time, helps to remove duplicates which exist more frequently in larger populations of contact data. The idea being that when you search the System Address Book, you are searching your largest pool of contacts, increasing the likelihood of finding multiple people with the same name…(i.e. two more people in your organization named John Smith) and therefore creating the possibility of sending a message to the wrong person.
In theory, all of these options work together to create an optimal solution that automatically captures email addresses, keeps your searches small, and disambiguates contacts with the same name. With GroupWise 2012, we introduced relevancy to the search results to further improve the likelihood of finding the exact address you use the most often. In GroupWise 2014, we have expanded this even further with features like Quick To, searching first, last, full name and email address fields automatically and by searching all address books simultaneously. Searching all address books simultaneously specifically means: all personal books from your existing Name Completion Control Search order, plus the System Address Book, and then any other books you manually included, except for shared books.
There is just one problem with all of this goodness. What happens when you have an email address that is either entered improperly and creates an undeliverable contact or which becomes undeliverable because the email address is obsolete or changes. In GroupWise 2012 and previous versions, that address continues to Name Complete and without end user intervention causes emails to not be delivered as expected. Apparently, there are few experiences that cause more pain, more calls to the helpdesk, or more problems for the system administrator than that of receiving an undeliverable email in your mailbox. It is for this reason that so many organizations and users have thrown the baby out with the bath water and disabled Frequent Contacts. All of the effort and work we have done to improve a user’s experience completely wasted because of this single flaw.
Note: I will mention one more limitation if you have added Shared Address Books to your Name Completion Control Search order and the Frequent Contacts book is searched first. Any external addresses in a Shared Book that gets moved to the Frequent Contacts book and then has its email changed would become stale in the Frequent Contacts and subsequent sends from the Frequent Contacts would fail or deliver improperly. Now with GroupWise 2014, if that did cause an undeliverable, the Frequent Contact entry would be marked and no longer be auto-completed or relevant sorted into your results. Good practice is to keep Shared Address Books with external entries ‘first’ in your Name Completion Search Order for GroupWise 2012 and previous users.
We want you to give Frequent Contacts another try!
With GroupWise 2014, we are ready to invite you back to the table and hopefully convince you of all of the benefits that the Name Completion Control, the Address Book, and especially the Frequent Contacts address book can bring your end-users and your organization. We know that in order to convince you of that we have to solve the one remaining problem of ‘Undeliverables’…..which I think we have!!!
New with GroupWise 2014, once an email address has been determined to be undeliverable, that address is automatically flagged/marked such that it will NEVER again appear in any Name Completion or any contact look up. Note: The flag can easily be reset by simply selecting the contact from the address book and attempting to send again. This will clear the flag and if it is undeliverable again, then the flag will once again be set on that contact.
Now you can get all of the benefits of the Frequent Contacts book without the one single headache of having undeliverable email addresses show up in your Name Completion Control! Of course, to get all of this great functionality you will need to not only deploy GroupWise 2014, but you will also need to deploy GroupWise 2014 clients!
I hope you will give the Frequent Contacts a second chance. Let me know what questions you have and if there is anything else we can do to help you and your users get the most out of your GroupWise experience.