What Is Outlook SMS?
Outlook SMS integrates into Microsoft Outlook and allows users to send SMS Messages directly from the Outlook desktop.
Users select recipients either from the Outlook contacts folder, or by typing recipients’ mobile numbers directly.
Sent messages are stored in the Outlook normal “sent items” folder. Replies (where supported by the cell network) are received in the form of emails in the Outlook Inbox.
Outlook SMS can be used in both on and offline modes. When online, messages are sent immediately. For offline use, outgoing messages are posted to the user’s outbox and are delivered the next time the user connects and performs a Send/Receive.
How Does Outlook SMS Work?
Outlook SMS is an “over the wire” service. In other words, an organisation makes use of the service though their existing Internet connection.
- Each user receives a link to download the Outlook SMS plug-in as well as a code to enable the software.
- Additional buttons are added to users Outlook client. Clicking the SMS button launches a new SMS window, much like a new message window in Exchange.
- Using the “To” button allows the user to define who the SMS should be sent to, and Outlook SMS automatically pulls the required cellular number form the Global Address List (GAL).
- Once the SMS message is complete, the user clicks send, and the message is sent to the Grapevine Outlook SMS Service, where it is delivered to the selected recipients.
- Sent items are stored in Outlooks “Sent Items” folder.
- Replies from the recipient are delivered directly to the user via email. The reply message is comprehensive, and includes the message the original user sent to the recipient.
The figure above shows the content flow between Outlook SMS and a recipient of SMS Messages.
Features Of Outlook SMS
Integration with Outlook:
- Outlook SMS button - Outlook SMS appears as a button on the menu bar in Outlook. Users who can use Outlook, are immediately able to use Outlook SMS.
- Contacts - Outlook SMS makes us of the Outlook address book, and Global Address List. Automatically pulling through cellular numbers from the address list. Where users have no number, the user is prompted for one. Naturally more than one user can be SMS’ed at a time using the same message. Similarly, users not listed as a contact can be sent an SMS by simply entering this ad-hoc number with all the rest.
- Sent Items - All SMS’ sent are stored in the Outbox, and then move to the Sent Items as they are sent from the Exchange server. This gives an easy record of all sent items, and integrates perfectly with Outlook.
- Reply supported - All replies to SMS’ are delivered directly to the users Inbox. The received item also contains the original message sent by the user for easy reference to the context of the SMS.
- Reminders - Outlook SMS is simple to enable for Calendar alerts. By selecting this option in the settings, the user is notified of all appointments in their Calendar in advance. Similarly, there is an option to insert a second cellular number, enabling a second person to be reminded of the users meetings, such as secretaries or other staff. Other Outlook alerts are also enabled, sending SMS alerts when tasks are due is simple to enable.
- Draft messages - Messages can be saved as drafts, and used later, and reused as required.
- Signature - A standard signature can be configured to end off all SMS’.
- Long messages - Long messages are supported by Outlook SMS.
- Work offline - When users work offline, the SMS simply waits in the Outbox until the user is back online, and the SMS’ ar sent out then.
Integration with Excel:
Outlook SMS offers more than just Outlook integration, it also automatically loads into Excel. Users can now use excel to specify cellular numbers and messages for these numbers. Selecting the numbers and messages and clicking on the Outlook SMS button (in Excel) automatically generates SMS’ as required.
- Customisation - Send to many users, all with unique messages, with the simple use of the Excel spreadsheet.
Web based Reporting Interface
- Status reports - Via a web interface, each user has access to the status reports of their sent SMS’.
- Full reporting - Via a web interface, SMS track and trace including interactions are provided.
The figure is an example of the SMS Window available from Outlook, and integrated into Outlook. Send, Save, “To” linked to Outlook Global address list, all standard supported features in the Outlook SMS service.
Benefits Of Using Outlook SMS To The Customer
Outlook SMS is a powerful SMS messaging application that leverages the most widely used email client in the world - Microsoft Outlook. Using Outlook SMS corporates can now send and receive both email and SMS messages from their Outlook client. Outlook SMS deeply integrates with Outlook accessing the Outlook address book, inbox, sent box, calendar and task components.
The tricky part of any SMS application is how it achieves network access since SMS applications (unlike email applications that connect once to the SMTP network) require connections to each mobile network. Outlook SMS uses the Grapevine Intelligent Network (GIN) to solve the SMS network connection problem. GIN represents a significant investment in robust infrastructure and technical and operation resources.
|Examples Of Possible SMS Message Interactions|
|Notify staff of important meetings||“The CEO will address all staff tomorrow at 9am. Please move meetings to attend”|
|Message negotiators with important information||“Have calculated we could drop our price to R100 per piece; use this as bottom limit”|
|Provide sales support information||“We are launching a 10% off sales promotion on our Red box product starting 31 July. See email in your inbox for more details”|
|Mobile field staff support||“Optimised job list: Broken handset at 3 Query Place, Kenilworth; intermittent line fault at 27 Pearce Road, Plumstead; No dial tone 23 Constantia heights, Constantia”|
|Delivery staff support||“Cancel delivery of order #254 at 24 Rudd Road, Claremont; the customer cannot take delivery today”|
Limitations Of Outlook SMS
The basic Outlook SMS contract is limited as follows:
- Messaging is limited to SMS messages to South African subscribers of Vodacom, MTN and Cell-C.
Other Services And Upgrade Paths
This proposal is limited to the provision of the Outlook SMS service to the customer. The customer is responsible for having the necessary licensed copies of Microsoft Outlook and SMTP connectivity. The SMS Outlook application is provided to users as a program that is integrated into Microsoft Outlook by running a setup.exe file. Any IT professional should be able to perform the installation.
Assistance in on site installation can be provided, if required. Such assistance is provided on a time and materials basis or on a fixed cost basis for larger installations.