Having an up-to-date and fully populated address book means company staff can look up contact information from their mail client as well as smartphones and tablets out on the field. It means the printed company phone directory can be generated without lengthy administrative time spent on maintaining an always-out-of-date spreadsheet or document.
It means e-mail signature can be constructed for users upon login and with no manual intervention. This enforces consistency and accuracy - and even makes the whole system self-policing. If the GAL drives e-mail signatures, staff are motivated to advise of changes and updates because it affects them directly.
I spoke of why this was so important but left the "how" for today. Clearly, this is not a moment too soon because some reactions to the previous story give me concern for the state of systems administration in various sectors.
Specifically, on certain external forums so-called sysadmins complained, "oh great, so we're supposed to do data entry, hey?" Ironically, this is the very type of IT worker I criticised, who blissfully remains unaware of business problems and the opportunities IT has to transform the organisation's culture.
At the risk of arrogance, to my mind a reaction such as that reflects not only unwillingness to tackle problems but also in fact shallowness about how to perform their own job.
After all, let's face it - if you are a technical person, but when faced with the task of updating a body of data can only see one option, namely manually keying in the information, then something is wrong.
Nevertheless, I'm here to help. Here are automated tools you need to know. One caveat: these are geared towards Microsoft Windows Server. Linux admins can certainly follow along and will be able to find equivalents online.