|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)
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dec. 5, 2016 01:30 AM EST Reads: 715
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Dec. 5, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 1,564
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Dec. 5, 2016 12:30 AM EST Reads: 6,078
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
Dec. 5, 2016 12:15 AM EST Reads: 1,155
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 4, 2016 10:45 PM EST Reads: 1,000
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Dec. 4, 2016 10:45 PM EST Reads: 1,670
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
Dec. 4, 2016 06:30 PM EST Reads: 2,035
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Dec. 4, 2016 06:30 PM EST Reads: 2,174
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Dec. 4, 2016 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,543
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 4, 2016 04:15 PM EST Reads: 4,206
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 4, 2016 04:15 PM EST Reads: 626
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Dec. 4, 2016 03:00 PM EST Reads: 3,259
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Dec. 4, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 2,014
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
Dec. 4, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 943
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Dec. 4, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,910
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Dec. 4, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 611
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Dec. 4, 2016 01:45 PM EST Reads: 2,164
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Dec. 4, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 1,546
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Dec. 4, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 2,140
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Dec. 4, 2016 12:30 PM EST Reads: 1,680