|By Paul Miller||
|April 22, 2009 10:50 AM EDT||
One of the biggest drains on time, effort and motivation in this business is the hell of arranging physical and virtual meetings with clients, prospects and podcast interviewees. Few of those people are in my timezone, we have no shared Exchange or Lotus Notes to endure rely upon, and I have absolutely no control over the calendaring solution that they choose to use in managing their own time. For all I know or care, half of them might still retain secretaries with quill pens to keep their paper diaries.
Over the years, I have tried a lot of tools with varying capabilities. Some were full-featured overkill that attempted to assert far too much control over my workflow. Worse, some of them tried to control the workflow of my invitees — people with whom I might only interact a couple of times — and that was completely unacceptable. At the other end of the scale, some were extremely simple and didn’t even understand the notion of timezones.
Of all these tools, I probably had most success with When Is Good, but still found myself tending to rely upon manual processes and a special iCal calendar called ‘Scheduling Hell’ into which I could record all of the appointments that I was in the process of confirming with people. The sea of red spread across my calendar most weeks — a mass of tentative appointments that would eventually resolve down to a far smaller number of actual events — is becoming a little ridiculous though; the waiting for invitees to respond means I’m often left unable to tackle new opportunities when they come up.
I’ve been trying a new tool for a little while, and am happy to report that I may finally have found the answer. The tool is Tungle, and it came out of beta this week to positive coverage across the blogosphere. I spoke with Marc Gingras, CEO of Montréal-based Tungle, this afternoon to hear a little more about the product and his company’s plans.
Tungle has come a long way since its initial alpha release of a plug-in to Microsoft Outlook two years ago. A $5 Million Series A investment led by Commonwealth Capital Ventures last year provided the wherewithal for the 18-person company to learn a lot from use of the Outlook plug-in and finish reinventing its tool for the Web, free of the platform and application limitations of their first offering.
Tungle now works with the major web browsers, and synchronises back and forth with calendaring solutions such as Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Entourage and iCal. Earlier this year they also announced a partnership with IBM to bring the same capabilities to Lotus Notes, which Gingras suggests will ensure coverage for 99% of professional users of electronic calendars. I have experienced one or two glitches in Firefox 3.1b3 under OS X, and although the team at Tungle have not yet been able to reproduce my problems they are looking into it. The site works perfectly well in the latest beta of Safari 4.
As a Tungle user, you are able to painlessly import one or more calendars and then keep them in sync with Tungle itself automatically. Tungle doesn’t replace your chosen calendaring solution, and does what it can to integrate seamlessly into familiar workflows. You are also able to import contacts if you wish, making it a little easier to invite people to meetings (you can select them from your contact list in Tungle instead of having to cut and paste or type email addresses) but also making it possible to share calendars in a manner already familiar to enterprise users of Exchange or Notes; but in a software-agnostic fashion that extends far beyond the corporate firewall. I’m not sure that this feature helps with my requirements, and have not imported any contacts yet; I’m quite happy to paste their email addresses in from elsewhere when I need to, and I prefer being in control of the meeting organisation process and the sharing of ‘free’ time with others. This is actually one of the most useful things about Tungle for me; it’s not a take it or leave it solution that requires me to do a load of things that I don’t want to. The meeting scheduling capabilities were what I wanted, and they work perfectly well without me having to take the rest of the feature set (including a ‘Meet With Me‘ capability that would allow anyone with a confirmed email address to request a meeting with me) before I need it.
Scheduling is a breeze, with a helpful wizard (and a tour) to walk you through the process the first few times. After selecting a topic, duration and location (which, helpfully, can link out to search Google Local for all those meetings you want to organise ‘in the coffee shop nearest X station or Y meeting venue’) you add the names of contacts you wish to invite and are then shown a view of your synchronised calendar in which you are able to select a range of possible dates and times for the new meeting. Invitees (who don’t need to be Tungle users themselves) receive an email directing them to a web page on which your proposed times are displayed, and simply select the time(s) that suit. Once the chosen time has been agreed it is automatically synchronised back to the organiser’s own calendar software (iCal in my case) via Tungle’s connector. Non-Tungle users receive an email with details of the confirmed meeting, in a format that may easily be added to their own calendar.
Anyone who has tried to organise meetings with busy people knows that the best course of action is often to offer a lot of possible times, in the hope that at least one will suit all the people you want to meet. The problem, as I found with my ‘Scheduling Hell’ calendar, is that you end up having to hold huge sections of your week for tentative appointments in order to avoid double booking. An incredibly useful capability in Tungle removes this problem almost entirely, as the times offered for a meeting are dynamic and can change (automatically or manually) after the invitation has been sent. Say I send two separate meeting invitations for appointments tomorrow. In both cases, the invitation offers any time between 9am and 6pm. The recipient of one invitation is quick off the mark and selects a 10-11am slot. The recipient of the second invitation then clicks on the link in the email they received and visits Tungle to schedule our meeting. Despite the fact that I offered them 9am-6pm, Tungle knows that I am now busy 10-11am and automatically adjusts the invitation to only offer 9-10am and 11am-6pm. Brilliant. Maybe I can wave goodbye to my Scheduling Hell.
Tungle also offers a useful set of management tools, and I have high hopes that those will continue to evolve; it would be useful, for example, to be able to temporarily overlay all the time slots currently offered to people on my calendar (a quick and dirty equivalent to my old Scheduling Hell calendar), and to have easy tools for chasing non-respondents after a period of time.
Given all of this functionality, how will Tungle manage to remain free? As it becomes more successful, its costs are only going to increase, and the company has committed to providing free access to the current feature set moving forward. There aren’t any ads, and while Jim Courtney points to future integration with WebEx or GoToMeeting there don’t seem to be many really compelling pieces to hold in reserve for a future subscription-powered version. Location-based advertising by coffee shops keen to attract the meetings of Tungle-toting mobile workers who will buy a latte and then hog the sofa and the power socket for a couple of hours? Surely not…
Gingras and his team are clearly thinking hard about this, with plenty of money still in the bank to support their free growth for a year or more and concerted effort being expended to lower the cost of acquiring and servicing new users as the site grows. Conversations with various interesting partners are moving forward, and he suggested that there will be news of partnerships — and various optional premium offerings — when the time is right.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Tungle: mother’s little helper (accmanpro.com)
- TimeBridge takes the headache out of group meetings (venturebeat.com)
- Reminders From Out of the Blue (nytimes.com)
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
May. 27, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,259
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
May. 27, 2015 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,193
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
May. 27, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,460
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
May. 27, 2015 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,179
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
May. 27, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,796
The world is at a tipping point where the technology, the device and global adoption are converging to such a point that we will see an explosion of a world where smartphone devices not only allow us to talk to each other, but allow for communication between everything – serving as a central hub from which we control our world – MediaTek is at the heart of both driving this and allowing the markets to drive this reality forward themselves. The next wave of consumer gadgets is here – smart, connected, and small. If your ambitions are big, so are ours. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jack Hu, D...
May. 27, 2015 12:49 PM EDT Reads: 774
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data retrieval. They can easily adapt to new data sets and provide access to both structured and unstruc...
May. 27, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,374
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
May. 27, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,430
We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems – call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge. IoT is comprised of smart machines interacting and communicating with other machines, objects, environments and infrastructures. As a result, huge volumes of data are being generated, and that data is being processed into useful actions that can “command and control” thi...
May. 27, 2015 11:51 AM EDT Reads: 760
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
May. 27, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,395
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
May. 27, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,856
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
May. 27, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,519
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
May. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,295
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
May. 27, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,690
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
May. 27, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 7,182
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
May. 27, 2015 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,760
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
May. 27, 2015 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,392
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
May. 27, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,046
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
May. 27, 2015 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,714
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
May. 27, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,461