SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Dave Michels | June 09, 2015 |

 
   

Time to Schedule Calendar Upgrades

Time to Schedule Calendar Upgrades Calendar interoperability has led to a huge productivity leak that grows ever bigger as teams become more distributed and collaborative.

Calendar interoperability has led to a huge productivity leak that grows ever bigger as teams become more distributed and collaborative.

Just a few years ago, every UC solution was an island. While UC technology offered improved clarity and new modalities for rich collaboration and communication, its use was restricted to internal teams. But at the same time, work teams started to include external participants with increasing frequency, requiring that the young technology adapt to new organizational needs.

Video vendors first broadly addressed inter-organizational collaboration by adding external participant links, and now teams have a variety of options for involving remote participants in rich, collaborative UC sessions. The lowest common denominator tends to be the link with download, which enables external participants to join. WebRTC offers ways to engage without clients, and Skype for Business users can federate with each other as well as with users on the consumer Skype network.

The primary barrier to inter-organizational collaboration is no longer the collaboration technology, but in finding an available time among the participants to collaborate.

That's So Yesterday
It's a bit ironic that the calendar is the weak link because it went digital prior to UC. Remember those Franklin and Day-Timer calendar organizers? They are indeed distant memories, as most users now enjoy desktop and mobile calendar applications. This should facilitate finding and negotiating meeting times, but it doesn't help much.

It is shocking how primitive calendaring remains in the modern enterprise. Online systems generally make it easy to find a time when internal participants are available, though the approach of searching for an open slot can push appointments weeks or months into the future. Scheduling across organizations is another matter. That task remains very complex, and we've seen no meaningful improvements for some time.

Popular enterprise calendar systems have a ton of information, but little intelligence. Calendars force us to either pick a specific time or just add a note. For example, you can't use them to book a floating appointment such as "two hours a day in the office." Nor can you auto-book with a deadline such as to complete an hour-long task before close-of-business Wednesday. These are not exactly rocket science algorithms, yet may as well be for end users.

Calendar interoperability remains limited, particularly with regards to finding a suitable time to meet. Despite all the online and mobile technologies we utilize, we still invariably resort to negotiating times via manual processes. It's a huge productivity leak that is growing even bigger as teams become more distributed and we increase our usage of collaboration systems.

To be fair, it is impressive that we can send invitations to each other thanks to broad support of the iCalendar file format (.ics) across major systems, including Outlook/Exchange, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, IBM Notes, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Novell GroupWise. It's a robust achievement that works with multiple devices, time zones, languages, operating systems, and fields (who, when, where, why, confirmed, tentative).

These appointment invitations are fine when the proposed time is agreeable or for coordinating meeting details regarding a previously agreed upon time. It's the agreed upon part that does not work well. iCalendar does not negotiate. It offers a Yes, No, or Tentative -- with no Reschedule option.

Happy Days Ahead?
Listening to the vendors you might forget that this problem exists. Promises that we can spend less time in email, and that we can richly engage with customers, partners, and suppliers, ignores the scheduling overhead. Distributed teams have different time zones and holidays, and participants are all juggling priorities that range from critical deadlines to siesta breaks.

Cloud-based services make sharing calendars easier than ever, and services such as ScheduleOnce can manage team calendars, but checking each calendar manually isn't particularly productive. I had hopes for Tungle.me, one of the more promising startups in this space. Unfortunately BlackBerry acquired Tungle.me, and then forgot it. New intelligent protocols won't come until the calendar gets smarter. For example, we should be able to specify fixed and variable appointments, deadlines, locations, and priorities. Calendars should understand location and commutes. In fact, commuting type (driving or riding) can impact the type of work a user can get done -- if any -- during that time block, and the calendar should be able to understand that as part of the scheduling process.

It's time to update the calendar. If this ever comes it will likely be between implementations of the same systems -- perhaps Microsoft will update how Outlook negotiates times between organizations using the software. Eventually, it needs to come across calendar solutions. We just need to get Microsoft, Google, and Apple to find a time to meet on this. Or, perhaps, we can teach pigs to fly.

Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.

Follow Dave Michels on Twitter and Google+!
@DaveMichels
Dave Michels on Google+





COMMENTS



August 16, 2017

Contact centers have long been at the leading edge of innovation in communications technology, given their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to optimize customer interactions and sta

July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.