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



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2017
March 27-30 | Orlando, FL
Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Special Offer - Save $200 Off Advance Rates

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

March 8, 2017

Enterprise IT's ability to innovate is critical to the success of the business -- 80% of CIOs agree. But the CIO role has never been more challenging than it is today, with rising operational respo

February 22, 2017

Sick of video call technology that make participants look like they're in the witness protection program? Turns out youre not alone. Poor-quality video solutions can give users an unprofessional ap

February 7, 2017

Securing voice communications used to be very simple since it was generally a closed system. However, with unified communications (UC) you no longer have the walled protection offered by a dedicate

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.