Thursday, December 30, 2010

Integrating Google Contacts with Your Enterprise App for better UX

Integrating Google Contacts with your enterprise application can be more challenging than you'd think but it's critical to a better user experience.

To keep a consistent level of data quality across your contact, consider selecting an application like your CRM (e.g. Salesforce) as your "system of record" and create a one way integration to Google Contacts.

Google Contacts doesn't have the notion of a common enterprise level object which can be uniformly extended by adding custom fields. It also doesn't support data validation rules to enforce consistent data quality across the enterprise. Custom fields are supported but through "free form" key/value pairs called Extended Properties. It's up to you to maintain consistency and data quality.

  • When creating a contact through the API, you can add any number of Extended Properties but make sure that Keys are consistently named.
  • To Make the UX better, provide a Google Gadget that will allow users to directly update or create (enterprise) contacts. The Gadget will update the enterprise app's contact which in turn will trigger the sync with Google Contacts. You can place small Gadgets in the main Mail page.
  • Google's premium editions provides a Shared Contact feature which is equivalent to a Global Address Book. It's much easier to sync all enterprise data with this list vs. trying to sync with every user's Contact list.