Spoke is a community for sales andmarketing professionals (home users would probably not have much usefor the site or software). Spoke makes a sales/marketing tool thathelps find contacts in companies across North America. For example, asales team can search for a company in the Spoke database and find thenames and titles of different employees in the company. This makes itclearer who to contact within that company in order to sell/market aproduct.
The Spoke database cuts down on the amount of time spent searchingonline, cold calling, and searching the phone book to find a useful andcorrect contact in a company. As well as providing information aboutcontacts within a company, Spoke also calculates relationships that youand other users have to each other, so that you can perhaps find acontact of yours who already has a relationship with someone at yourtarget company and who could possibly provide a friendly introduction.Spoke is essentially a data aggregator; the information in theirdatabase is collected from various sources amongst which they quote,“published corporate data, Web content, and user-validated data.”
The interesting part of Spoke is the user-validated data. How dothey go about collecting and validating this data? One method thatSpoke uses is ensuring that anyone wishing to access the database forfree must first validate their own address book with the Spokedatabase. If you do not wish to validate your own address book, theSpoke software is also available at a charge of $50 per month. In orderto validate your address book with the Spoke database, you are promptedto download and install “Spoke for Outlook.” This is a software packagethat integrates with Outlook and can also install an Internet ExplorerToolbar if you so wish.
What does Spoke mean by “Validate”? When installed the Spokesoftware package will send the details of your contacts from yourOutlook address book to the Spoke servers and aggregate your contacts’information with the information they already have and also form anonline version of your address book for you. In addition, Spoke candetermine how strong a relationship you have with the contacts in youraddress book by checking how often you email them.
If you read the EULA (end user license agreement) before you installthe software then you should be aware of this behaviour. Thoseconcerned with privacy and data leakage, especially enterpriseadministrators who need to enforce certain legal regulations regardingdata privacy, should be aware their contact information is being sentto a third party. The software is reconfigurable so that you can turnoff the sending of your Outlook contacts. However, it appears that youcan only reconfigure the software after you have already sent thecontents at least once. Again, if you read the FAQ on the Spoke siteyou will learn that in order to access their database for free you mustvalidate your outlook address book first. However, during theinstall/registration process it may not be immediately clear that yourOutlook address book will be sent to the Spoke servers.
If you use Spoke and you were not aware of this process then you can reconfigure the spoke software as follows:
Right click on the tray icon and select “CONFIGURE”:
Next Click Edit beside the default server:
And finally deselect whichever folders you do not want sent to the server: