One the major selling points of something like Microsoft Exchange Server is that it not only allows you to send and receive emails, but it also has a calendar that in a network environment you can share with others. This allows people to see when others are busy, schedule meetings and so on. Very handy. The problem now is that this type of functionality is locked inside a business’s network and also it typically doesn’t work with people using other calendaring platforms like Google Calendar.
A potential solution to this issue that I have discovered is Tungle. In summary here’s what it offers:
Schedule - Send invitations proposing multiple times and let Tungle find the time that works for everyone. Tungle handles everything from time zones, to double booking, to updating your calendar.
Publish - Customize your personal scheduling page. Show only the times you want to be available. Invite others to schedule meetings with you. Meetings get booked on your terms and others don’t have to sign up.
Share - Share calendars across companies, systems and time zones. You control who you share with and what you share – free/busy or full details
Tungle works from Outlook, Google Calendar, iCal/Entourage and Lotus Notes. I have created an account and published my calendar at http://tungle.me/ciaops. If you visit the you’ll see all the available times I have. If you wanted to have a meeting with me then you could simply select a time and make a request via the web page. All the details, once approved, get sync’ed to everyone’s calendar.
I’ve already used Tungle to schedule couple of meetings and I have to say that so far it was worked really well as most requests I get are ‘I’d like to meet when are you free’. So rather than bouncing requests back and forth via email email I can simply get the person to select a time in Tungle and it’ll end up in my calendar. All very nice and easy.
Once you have something like Tungle, then why would you need Exchange calendaring? I could simply use Outlook and sync my calendar with other members of my team no matter what calendar they use. I can let external parties view my availability directly from the web or their iPhone. I don’t you can do that as easily from Exchange.
Now I must admit I can’t see how these guys are going to make money (hello premium services I’ll bet) but this ‘proof of concept’ is certainly a great step. Of course there will always be concerns over privacy but these can be worked around (like only publishing a ‘business calendar’), however if the business value grossly outweighs this then it is less of a concern.
If you need a tool to allow people to schedule appointments with you and reduce the amount of time wasted finding a convenient free slot for everyone concerned then I’d suggest you take a look at Tungle. If you are interested to see how Tungle could be another nail in the coffin of the traditional Microsoft Exchange calendaring, I’d also recommend you take a look.