Virtual Assistants To The Rescue!

Yesterday’s news feeds brought me two new applications that can ably serve as assistants in your process of getting things done. The first is FellowUp, a tool that helps you make the most of your various social web connections. The second is Flow, a beautiful group task management app that puts your to do list front and center in a very dynamic way.

First, FellowUp. This CRM tool tackles a problem made almost monumental in the digital, social sharing age: how do you maintain relationships across social networks, relationships that might actually yield positive experiences and networking fruit? You connect your social networks to the application, which then mines your networks for “insights”, such as important events, happenings, job changes, etc. From FellowUp’s dashboard, you can then comment or connect over the “insight”, making a positive impression on your friend or colleague and, in essence, “following up” with them. Get quick note of important life events and even common interests, which you can then act on if you wish. Of course, like any good CRM, FellowUp affords a useful mechanism for saving and storing contact information across networks in one place for easy access. Mobile access too, with a companion iPhone application. FellowUp has a more personal feel than competitors such as Salesforce, Xobni or LinkedIn, and a more effective interface for acting on events. Another cool feature: use it as a personal “to do” application by creating a new contact for yourself and adding notes, reminders, tasks or anything else you need to bring to your frontal lobe. FollowUp currently connects with Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Outlook. The site indicates that the team is working to add iCal, Yahoo, Twitter, hotmail-live, Salesforce, MySpace and more. A plug-in for Gmail and Outlook is in the works. FellowUp is in private beta right now, but even at this early stage, it promises to be an interesting way to deal with burgeoning online communities of friends, colleagues and acquaintances,  helping us make more meaningful connections in a rapidly disconnecting world.

Next in line, Flow. Flow is all about managing and delegating tasks to your team. In their sample vid, the “team” is a group of kids (I know, aging myself here) setting about to have a party. But your aspirations with this gorgeous app can certainly rise higher. The problem Flow is attempting to solve is similar to FollowMe – how to pull together disparate tasks and to-dos scattered across various applications and platforms and localize them in one place for easy management. Use Flow from your browser or a companion Mac desktop application. Use if for personal and work related tasks, by entering a name, a due date, contacts you’d like to include in the task-completion process, and relevant tags. You can group tasks into projects. Collaborators can add content to tasks, including real-time comments, which is a huge boon on a short deadline. You can add tasks and can delegate by email and all team members get access to a single dashboard. And, of course, there is the ubiquitous companion iPhone application.

To say the interface is pretty would be an understatement. But, at $9.99 per month, it should be. Still, let it be known that $99 per year for a virtual assistant is not a bad deal, particularly if it helps you get your work done and done effectively and efficiently.

Check out these very cool new apps. And be watching for more – clearly developers are plagued with the same professional problems as us little folk and keep coming up with creative ways to solve them.


Making Your Business Card Play Fetch

I admit I have a thing about business cards. Not sure why. I guess I have always loved the graphical representation of a person’s vitals  in two-dimensional format.

I also have a thing about modern iterations of the business card, and have discussed options in previous posts here in the Studio (link here).

Today I found another modern appliance for exchanging contact information: CloudContacts (link here).

CloudContacts is an application that takes your business cards, scans them, and exports them into your email application of choice or whatever system you use for maintaining your contacts.  They also are stored on the web (handy backup). You can see images of your cards on-line. CloudContacts will either return the cards to you or will recycle them (how green!). As stated on their site, CloudContacts accepts cards in the following ways:

  • Mail – shipped via postal mail, FedEx, UPS, DHL and other package carriers
  • CloudContacts Mailer – we can send you a postal mailer – U.S. only – small shipping charge applies
  • NYC Pickup – orders of 300 credits or more – we can pickup your cards at your home or office
  • Email Upload – cards can be emailed via scan or photo using your custom CloudContacts email address
  • Mobile Email – cards can be sent using your mobile phone
  • The really cool part, though, is that CloudContacts will then take that information, go forth out into the wilds of the Social web, collect that person’s social profile information, and bring it back to you. Takes the sleuthing out of your complete connection activity. Available networks included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Plaxo. Supported email and CRM services included Salesforce, Highrise, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, Entourage, Thunderbird, Exchange, and Gmail. More are to be added.

    CloudContacts costs. One credit is good for one business card. $29.95 gives you 100 credits and economics scale in your favor as you ncrease the number of credits you purchase.

    But, if you depend heavily on securing cards and managing that information in a Web 2.0 way, CloudContacts seems a decent investment.