Over the past two years I have been occasionally reporting on Tungle, the meeting accelerator that facilitates scheduling meetings and conference calls. Tungle’s goals as a service are:
- bring down barriers, such as different calendar programs, between companies and work teams
- share availability (Busy/Free status only)
- respect privacy and user control
In summary Tungle wants to be “the last mile” for booking a meeting.
Since my last report a year ago on the introduction of the Tungle.me feature, Tungle has added several features including:
- a BlackBerry client available via the BlackBerry app store,
- participation in Google Apps Market Place
- addition of Plancast to its existing social networking integrations with Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn, Ning, etc. and
- integration into Lotus Notes.
Basically Tungle has been building up an infrastructure and partner relationships that accelerate meeting scheduling across your email contacts and social networks. Key to its success is that individual users of Tungle can be agnostic with respect to their calendaring program. Tungle works with Outlook, Google Calendar and Lotus Notes as well as iCal and Entourage on the Mac. And it adapts to a user’s local time zone; Tungle has users in over 100 countries across all the world’s time zones.
At the same time Tungle has evolved its various user interfaces to make Tungle much more readily accepted by both the meeting organizer and the invitees. Key here was the removal of the need for an invitee to actually be registered with Tungle. Simply receive a Tungle invitation via email, click on a link, show your available times and the meeting organizer can move ahead with scheduling a meeting, including sending meeting time confirmation emails.
But there were still many opportunities to improve Tungle and further accelerate meetings. Today Tungle is announcing Tungle.me 2.0 with several new features that “extend the application’s social networking features with the addition of a public directory, search functionality, and group meeting capabilities”.
Modify Your “Weekly Availability”
A year ago Tungle introduced Tungle.me where you could, at your discretion, show times you are available for meetings on a “weekly” basis from a URL, “tungle.me/username”, that could become, say, part of an email signature. Your Tungle.Me availability would automatically be modified as you reserved times slots in your calendar application. As the first of several new features introduced today, users can also edit or customize those availabilities on a daily basis should you decide to take time off for a golf game, have a “must attend” family event or have the boss second you into a short term project.
Tungle.Me Public Directory and Search
Since introducing Tungle.me Tungle has also discretely developed a Tungle.Me public directory accompanied by Tungle.me Search. Provided a user gives appropriate permission, you can now search Tungle’s public directory for a particular user and see if they have made their availability information accessible to schedule one-on-one meetings. Over 85% of Tungle users have given the appropriate permission; recall that only your “Free/Busy” time availability is shown – with no details of why a time slot is tied up or an associated meeting location. But Tungle Search simply becomes one more contributor to a key new feature.
Accelerating Meeting Scheduling Through Aggregation
A major issue that has held up the time taken to schedule multi-participant meetings was the need to have responses from at least a significant portion of the potential participants. This could take two or three days waiting for responses while others are tentatively holding time slots open in the back-of-their-minds if not on their calendar.
Yet, as mentioned above, the information of their availability, if a registered Tungle.me user, is accessible. Today’s announcement is about accelerating meetings through aggregation. Simply go to your Tungle.me Home page (www.tungle.me/username), select contacts who have made their information available and you have an overlay showing what time slots are available. Bingo! Set either the suggestions for a meeting time and send an invite email with pre-qualified time slots or just set a meeting time, if appropriate in context. (Another hint: cursor over an individual contact’s name to overlay a view of the individual’s availability.)
In the graphic below, purple represent my own committed time slots for this week, light blue represent committed time slots of three other invitees to the prospective meeting.
While the above process helps to set up one-time meetings, for teams or groups that meet frequently, Tungle.me’s most powerful new feature is the creation of contact Groups. Much like the Group Contact feature in Skype you can designate the members of a group and create the Group as an additional contact. Want to see when your group can get together, simply click on the Group’s name in your Tungle Contact list. You will immediately see the available times at which your Group can come together. Best part of Groups: you can create a URL, “www.tungle.me/username/groupname”, so that all members of your group can quickly see the group’s availability from any web browser.
Two overriding guidelines to Tungle.me’s new features:
1. Privacy – you only make public your available times. No information is provided about why your time slots are tied up or where you will be physically.
2. Aggregate availability to show common times available for meetings with one or two mouse clicks.
Tungle CEO Marc Gingras has provided a short demonstration video to provide a more dynamic introduction:
Bottom Line (and Full Disclosure): I have been using Tungle and Tungle.me for the past two years, witnessing its evolution into a fully featured, easy-to-use service. Consistently their goal has been to improve the user interface, making it a “no-brainer” service to use whether a meeting participant is a registered user or not.
Fifteen years ago I was taking up to a week to schedule cross-company meetings via emails. Tungle brings the process down to a few easy to follow steps that pull together readily accessible user information and time slots through one service platform such that a meeting can be scheduled within hours, if not minutes. No longer simply an aggregator of user availability, Tungle, incorporating its own social networking ecosystem, has become a key social networking tool that can facilitate the real time “social sharing” envisioned by Skype’s Jonathan Rosenberg at his recent eComm keynote.
Tungle CEO Marc Gingras has also put up a few blog posts with more details on these new features:
- Search and Directory
- Tungle.me Groups
- More new features
- Concerned about privacy? Don’t be
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