Thoughts on ACT! 2010 beta (#ACT2010) - The good, the bad and the ugly

There have been a number of posts from people on ACT! 2010 (due soon) and as we at GL Computing have been running our production data on the new version for a while, I thought I would posts my thoughts on it so far. Here is a list of what’s new in the up-coming build.

Here is the ACT! by Sage Version Comparison Chart - Compare your version to ACT! by Sage 2010

Note: The following are my personal views on the beta and features may change in the release.

  • Welcome Screen – A start-up screen displaying useful help links. This will be nice for new and upgrading users to learn the new functions quickly
  • New Look and Navigation
    • While the left-hand Nav bar has some nice functions (Quick Lookup and a context-sensitive list of Related Tasks), it’s less customisable than previous versions and doesn’t allow adding of direct links to the List views or the different calendars.
    • The Top icon ribbon is too large and takes up valuable screen real-estate for little value.

ACT2010 - Welcome and Navigation

  • Customisable Opportunities – these have been given a major overhaul including:
    • The ability to add custom fields to both the opportunity and to the products and services table
    • Personalise the layout of the opportunity like the Contacts, Groups, Companies layouts
    • Track activities, history, notes, documents and other items tied to the opportunity
    • New reports and more security options

ACT2010 Opportunity

  • Web 2.0 Technologies – this is a nicer version of the free Contact Web Context Browser
    • See your contacts’ information on a variety of Social Media and other sites, such as: LinkedIN, Facebook, Plaxo, MySpace, their web site, Google, Google Maps, Google News, Yahoo and others. It also allows you to create your own links.
    • Noticeably missing from the default list is Twitter, although it’s very easy to add.
    • For the Social Media sites, the links are just a search based on standard fields. To really work, this function needs to be able to enter a direct link for the contact (once found) to a “system field” and then use this link. If nothing in the field, then revert to the search. In a similar way to how Xobni does for Outlook
    • Additionally, there is no way to store specific “status updates” to these sites to a history or to view a combined feed for a company or group.
    • There is no way to update ACT! contact information from these sites (or at least highlight when they are different), which would be a nice option, especially from sites like LinkedIN.
    • Finally, there should be an ability to post updates from ACT! to the Social Media sites and store the posts in ACT! – this would allow a company to report on and review posts made by staff across multiple sites
    • I had previously posted some of these ideas in this blog post:

ACT2010 Web Info

  • E-MarketingSwiftpage has been incorporated out-of-the box to provide:
    • Better mass/merged emails
    • Survey and web forms
    • Drip marketing
  • Reports and Dashboard Components
    • There have been many new reports and nice report selector with option to select favourites – it would be nice if the Favourite Reports were added to the Reports menu, even to a sub-menu.
    • The Dashboard has some new components, including a Data chart (like the previously available Data Chart control) and a Facebook Friends List.
  • More Integration
    • The ability to email activity invitations in iCal format (a function missing since ACT! 6.0 had vCal) to users of Outlook, Gmail, Apple iCal, Windows Live, Facebook, GroupWise or Lotus Notes
    • Create an ACT! activity when you accept an iCal meeting request in Outlook
    • Share contacts with the vCard format. Also a nice addition missing since ACT! 6.0
  • Administration
    • Create up to 50 remote database simultaneously for easy roll-out of larger sync implementations
    • Support global environments by being able to set the currency when creating the database and allowing different international versions to share the database
    • New Admin Dashboard to see user information, logon and sync status and more.
  • Platform support – including SQL 2005 64 bit and SQL 2008 with Premium and Corporate.

Sage have obviously been very busy over the past year and there are also, as one would expect, many more enhancements and improvements that will improve your ability to use ACT! to assist your business.

Overall, this is been a good beta. The product has been very stable and there is much to entice current users to upgrade, especially the opportunities area. However, I think some of the new functions could have been implemented to provide a better use of the product (the navigation) or more power (Web 2.0 Tab) 

Connecting to ACT! by Sage data

A PowerPoint covering the different options to export and import data from ACT! by Sage or later versions

ACT! 2009 11.1 Hot Fix 2 Released.

Who Should Install This Hot Fix
Hot Fix 2 for ACT! version 11.1 may resolve your issues if:

  • You are using the ACT! for Web Client and see an error message when attempting to open an attachment that has a Microsoft® Office extension (such as .doc, .xls, and so forth.)
  • You are an ACT! for Web user who has installed 11.1 Hot Fix 1 and sees a deterioration in the speed ACT! List View information is updated.
  • You are experiencing compatibility issues with eGrabber or other 3rd party products.
  • You are seeing date/time on template names after a database synchronization when there isn’t any file conflict.
  • You are an ACT! for Windows® or ACT! for Web user seeing a "No records found" message after sorting on a custom field in the Contact, Group, or Company List view.
  • You are upgrading from any of the following versions of ACT!: 3.x, 4.x, 5.x (2000) or 6.x (2004) to an International English version of 11.1, and have not yet converted your database.
  • You are an ACT! Premium for Web user and all of your activities do not appear in the task list.
  • You are an ACT! Premium for Web user and have problems loading list views.

The following table list the areas affected by the hot fix, description, and the effect of the hot fix for each known issue.

New in Hot Fix 2
Area Description What the Fix Does
Attachments ACT! for Web users operating in an environment that uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) are unable to open an attachment if it has a Microsoft Office extension such as .doc or .xls. Enables users to open Microsoft Office documents in a SSL environment.
Performance ACT! for Web users find that List View information updates slowly after 11.1 Hot Fix 1 has been installed. Removes the performance degradation.

Fixed in Hot Fix 1
Area Description What the Fix Does
Contact Records In databases upgraded from version 3.x, 4.x, 5.x (2000) or 6.x (2004), the create date on Contact records changes to the current date instead of retaining the original create date. Prevents the create date from being changed if the hot fix is applied before the database is converted.
Column and spillover tables Error Message "No records found" displays when the user sorts on a field. When the user sorts on a field, the sort displays the correct data.
Synchronization File synchronization is adding a date/time stamp to file names, even when there is no conflict. Layouts, queries, and reports will not be renamed after synchronizing.
ACT! for Web list views If the user has more than 10 activities, all may not appear in the task list. Also, the loading icon remains on the screen. Allows the correct number of records to be shown in the list views.
SDK SDK 11.1exceptions resulted in third party programs encountering errors. Ensures compatibility with eGrabber and other 3rd party products.

For more information, refer to the ACT! KB25056

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New Subgroups for ACT! Fanatics on LinkedIN

New sub-groups have been created under the LinkedIn ACT! Fanatics Group:

  • Sales and Marketing for ACT! users
    A group to discuss general sales and marketing strategies and processes, especially as they apply to users of ACT! by Sage

  • ACT! and Social Media
    A group to discuss ACT! and Social Media (Social CRM) - LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo and any others

  • ACT! Add-ons
    Group for ACT! users to ask questions of add-on vendors and for add-on vendors to ask users what they would like or to ask each other questions related to the SDK

  • ACT! Resellers
    A group for ACT! Certified Consultants and other resellers to discuss best practices for selling, implementing and supporting ACT! by Sage

  • ACT! International Advisory Council
    Council of ACT! Fanatics to discuss and evaluate technical issues within ACT! by Sage that effect international users

See the full list in the ACT! Fanatics Sub-groups

Please let me know if you have any ideas for other groups that would be useful to add

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Handheld Contact Announces New Editions including a free sync service

The guys over at Handheld Contact have been busy working on new wireless syncing solutions for ACT! and they have just announced Entry and Basic Editions for Windows Mobile smart phones and Pocket PC.

Handheld Contact is known as the best solution for wirelessly syncing information between ACT! by Sage and Blackberry or Windows Mobile smart phones. It's easy, convenient, secure, and makes any ACT! user more productive.

Unlike the current version of Handheld Contact (now renamed Handheld Contact Professional), these new versions sync ACT! Contacts and Calendar (Basic Edition only) to the contact list and calendar on the phone – all wirelessly, no cables. Here are a few details:

Handheld Contact Entry Edition:
This version is free!
It limits syncing to once per day, syncs ACT! Contacts only and operates on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ support plan.

Handheld Contact Basic Edition:
This version syncs ACT! Contacts and Calendar, includes unlimited syncs and is fully supported.

Both products are certified by Microsoft’s Mobile2Market program and independently tested by NSTL and guaranteed not to create duplicate contacts or calendar entries in ACT!

Discover which edition of Handheld Contact is perfect for you.

Versions that support BlackBerry smart phones are expected later this year.