ELECTRONIC CALENDAR AUTO EVENT RESOLUTION SYSTEM AND METHOD

US 2008 91 504A1

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A system and method for event resolution The method includes determining whether a post-scheduled event or a pre-scheduled event conflicts with a scheduled event. The method further includes extracting details of the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event and automatically populating a response with at least some of the extracted details. The method further includes sending the response with an accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event does not conflict with the scheduled event, or sending the response with a cancel indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event, or sending the response with a tentatively accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event.

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Claims

1. A method comprising:
determining whether a scheduled event is confirmed;
determining whether a user is designated as a chair of a meeting, wherein one of:
when the user is designated as the chair and the scheduled event is confirmed, for each meeting conflicting with the scheduled event, cancel or reschedule the meeting to a non-conflicting time; and
when the user is not designated as the chair and the scheduled event is confirmed, perform an action.

Show 23 dependent claims

25. A method comprising:
determining whether a post-scheduled event or a pre-scheduled event conflicts with a scheduled event;
extracting details of the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event;
automatically populating a response with at least some of the extracted details; and
sending one of:
the response with an accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event does not conflict with the scheduled event;
the response with a cancel indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event; and
the response with a tentatively accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event.

Show 16 dependent claims

42. A method for deploying an application for event resolution, comprising:
providing a computer infrastructure being operable to:
determine whether a post-scheduled event or a pre-scheduled event conflicts with a scheduled event;
extract details of the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event;
automatically populate a response with at least some of the extracted details; and
send one of:
the response with an accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event does not conflict with the scheduled event;
the response with a cancel indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event; and
the response with a tentatively accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event.
43. A system comprising at least one of a hardware and software component for providing event resolution between a scheduled event and at least one of a pre-scheduled event and post-scheduled event, the at least one hardware and software component configured to: determine whether there is a conflict between the scheduled event and at least one of the pre-scheduled event and post-scheduled event, if existing; update a calendar with a non-conflicting event; and notify a sender of the at least one of the pre-scheduled event and post-scheduled event that a recipient accepts, declines or tentatively accepts a time for the at least one of the pre-scheduled event and post-scheduled event, depending on a conflict.

Show 4 dependent claims

49. A computer program product comprising a computer usable medium having readable program code embodied in the medium, the computer program product includes at least one component to:
determine whether a post-scheduled event or a pre-scheduled event conflicts with a scheduled event;
extract details of the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event;
automatically populate a response with at least some of the extracted details; and
send the response to at least one invited attendee.

Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention generally relates to a system and method of electronic calendar automatic event resolution and, more particularly, to a system and method configured to provide event resolution for both pre-scheduled and post-scheduled events.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Electronic office tools are ubiquitous in today's business environments. These electronic office tools include, for example, calendars, appointment books, address books and contact lists, to name a few. In fact, these tools are typically an extension of features provided by time management software such as desk accessory packages and mainframe office automation systems. These tools are often packaged by original equipment manufacturers. For example, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) packages many of these features in Lotus Notes®. (IBM and Lotus Notes are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both).

Calendaring and other time management systems are very powerful tools. For example, these tools allow a user to schedule appointments such as team meetings or other appointments and notify and/or remind participants by email of such appointments. Calendar features also include automatic event reminders, including mobile phone notifications, which instantly bring up calendar events with built-in search tools.

By way of a more specific example, electronic calendars have special functionality which allows users to track scheduled events, add events to a calendar, and notify/invite other individuals of the scheduled events. In addition, many electronic calendars permit the user to denote blocks of time for scheduled vacation, either as half day vacations or full day vacations, site holidays and other customized out of the office events. In fact, some calendars permit a sharing feature to allow other users to see upcoming events on another user's calendar.

These functions are all very useful when organizing and scheduling events and, in particular managing time. However, it is not uncommon for scheduled events to conflict with one another, unbeknownst to the user. For example, a user may have scheduled a block of time for an out of office event such as a vacation, but also accepted an appointment for a business meeting during this same time. This would typically occur, as one example, by a colleague sending a recipient an email invitation requesting a meeting at a certain time and date. The recipient would accept the invitation by hitting the accept button, which, in turn, would automatically notify the sender of such acceptance. By doing so, the business meeting would automatically be placed into the recipient's calendar at the accepted time and date. However, unwittingly, the accepted invitation may conflict with a scheduled vacation. This may not be realized, at all, or may be realized only after the recipient was looking through his/her calendar for other scheduled events.

Accordingly, there exists a need in the art to overcome the deficiencies and limitations described hereinabove.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect of the invention, a method comprises determining whether a scheduled event is confirmed and whether a user is designated as a chair of a meeting. When the user is designated as the chair and the scheduled event is confirmed, for each meeting conflicting with the scheduled event, the method cancels, reschedules the meeting to a non-conflicting time or performs an action. When the user is not designated as the chair and the scheduled event is confirmed, the method performs an action.

In another aspect of the invention, a method comprises determining whether a post-scheduled event or a pre-scheduled event conflicts with a scheduled event. The method further includes extracting details of the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event and automatically populating a response with at least some of the extracted details. The method further includes sending the response with an accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event does not conflict with the scheduled event, or sending the response with a cancel indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event, or sending the response with a tentatively accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event.

In another aspect of the invention, a method is provided for deploying an application for event resolution. The method comprises providing a computer infrastructure being operable to: determine whether a post-scheduled event or a pre-scheduled event conflicts with a scheduled event; extract details of the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event; automatically populate a response with at least some of the extracted details; and send the response. The response may include an accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event does not conflict with the scheduled event. The response may include a cancel indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event. The response may include a tentatively accept indication when the post-scheduled event or the pre-scheduled event conflicts with the scheduled event.

In yet another aspect of the invention, a system comprising at least one of a hardware and software component is provided for event resolution between a scheduled event and at least one of a pre-scheduled event and post-scheduled event. The hardware and/or software component is configured to: determine whether there is a conflict between the scheduled event and at least one of the pre-scheduled event and post-scheduled event, if existing; update a calendar with a non-conflicting event; and notify a sender of the at least one of the pre-scheduled event and post-scheduled event that a recipient accepts, declines or tentatively accepts a time for the at least one of the pre-scheduled event and post-scheduled event, depending on a conflict.

In a further aspect of the invention, a computer program product comprises a computer usable medium having readable program code embodied in the medium. The computer program product includes at least one component to provide the method steps of the invention. The at least one component can also provide the functionality of the system of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows an illustrative environment for implementing the steps in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 shows a sample template used in implementing the invention; and

FIG. 3 is a flow chart of steps for implementing aspects of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

The invention is directed to a system and method of electronic calendar automatic event resolution. In an embodiment of the invention, the method and system is configured to provide event resolution for both pre-scheduled and post-scheduled events that coincide with times in which the user will (or may) be unavailable, e.g., out of the office. The system and method of the invention will save the user time by automatically resolving meeting information using a set of predetermined choices to automate the process of dealing with events that coincide with scheduled conflicts such as, for example, time out of the office. Meetings are defined broadly to encompass teleconferences, lectures/seminars, or other events which require participation from the intended user. Possible resolutions may include, but not be limited to, automatically rescheduling and/or declining meetings. Additionally, by implementing the system and method of the invention, time to schedule events and notify others will be greatly reduced, compared with conventional systems. The invention can be implemented over any distributed network or stand-alone server, for example.

FIG. 1 shows an illustrative environment 10 for managing the processes in accordance with the invention. To this extent, the environment 10 includes a computer infrastructure 12 that can perform the processes described herein. In particular, the computer infrastructure 12 includes a computing device 14 that comprises a management system 30, which makes computing device 14 operable to perform electronic calendar automatic event resolution in accordance with the invention, e.g., processes described herein. The computing device 14 includes a processor 20, a memory 22A, an input/output (110) interface 24, and a bus 26. Further, the computing device 14 is in communication with an external I/O device/resource 28 and a storage system 22B.

In general, the processor 20 executes computer program code, which is stored in memory 22A and/or storage system 226. While executing computer program code, the processor 20 can read and/or write data to/from memory 22A, storage system 22B, and/or I/O interface 24. The bus 26 provides a communications link between each of the components in the computing device 14. The I/O device 28 can comprise any device that enables an individual to interact with the computing device 14 or any device that enables the computing device 14 to communicate with one or more other computing devices using any type of communications link.

The computing device 14 can comprise any general purpose computing article of manufacture capable of executing computer program code installed thereon (e.g., a personal computer, server, handheld device, etc.). However, it is understood that the computing device 14 is only representative of various possible equivalent computing devices that may perform the processes described herein. To this extent, in embodiments, the functionality provided by computing device 14 can be implemented by a computing article of manufacture that includes any combination of general and/or specific purpose hardware and/or computer program code. In each embodiment, the program code and hardware can be created using standard programming and engineering techniques, respectively.

Similarly, the computer infrastructure 12 is only illustrative of various types of computer infrastructures for implementing the invention. For example, in embodiments, the computer infrastructure 12 comprises two or more computing devices (e.g., a server cluster) that communicate over any type of communications link, such as a network, a shared memory, or the like, to perform the process described herein. Further, while performing the process described herein, one or more computing devices in the computer infrastructure 12 can communicate with one or more other computing devices external to computer infrastructure 12 using any type of communications link. The communications link can comprise any combination of wired and/or wireless links; any combination of one or more types of networks (e.g., the Internet, a wide area network, a local area network, a virtual private network, etc.); and/or utilize any combination of transmission techniques and protocols. As discussed herein, the management system 30 enables the computer infrastructure 12 to provide electronic calendar automatic event resolution.

In embodiments, the invention provides a business method that performs the process steps of the invention on a subscription, advertising, and/or fee basis. That is, a service provider, such as a Solution Integrator, could offer to perform the processes described herein. In this case, the service provider can create, deploy, maintain, and support, etc., a computer infrastructure that performs the process steps of the invention for one or more customers. In return, the service provider can receive payment from the customer(s) under a subscription and/or fee agreement and/or the service provider can receive payment from the sale of advertising content to one or more third parties.

In one embodiment, the invention is configured to reconcile both pre-scheduled and post-scheduled events. Pre-scheduled events may include events that are pre-scheduled prior to a time being denoted as out-of-office or other event blocked on the schedule. Post-scheduled events may include events that are scheduled after an out-of-office or other conflicting event is already blocked on the scheduled. A conflicting event may denote any event in which there is time blocked on the calendar, whether that is a meeting or other scheduled event on the calendar.

In embodiments, the system and method is configured to determine if the out-of-office or other conflicting event (hereinafter referred to as conflicting event) is definite or tentative. This may be accomplished by creating a profile that allows a user to indicate the number of days prior to an event to confirm the conflicting event. The system will prompt the user several days or other predetermined time period prior to the conflicting event to confirm the conflicting event. If the conflicting event is confirmed, automatic event notifications will be sent to other persons attempting to schedule an appointment, which would otherwise conflict with the conflicting event

In further embodiments, in the event that the user cancels the conflicting event, it is possible to retrieve the pre-scheduled or post-scheduled event. By way of one example, pre-scheduled or post-scheduled events may be saved in a log file for future reference. Additional details can be included in the log file such as the original meeting date and the date rescheduled meeting date. The system and method further provides the ability to automatically restore the meeting details to the calendar after they have been removed. The log file will be utilized to allow this functionality.

In the case of a pre-scheduled event (e.g., an event is listed on the user's calendar prior to scheduling the conflicting event), the system and method can perform certain functions when a conflicting event is later scheduled. For example, for events that are chaired by a third party, the system and method of the invention is configured to perform the following functions:

    • 1. In the case that the conflicting event (e.g., vacation) is tentatively scheduled, system and method of the invention is configured to update the response from accept to, e.g., tentative accept pending vacation determination. The system and method may also send an update note (email) to the chair indicating the changed status.
    • 2. In the case that the conflicting event is definite, the system and method of the invention is configured to update the response from accept to decline. A prompt, via an email, for example, may be sent to the chair indicating the changed status.
    • 3. In the case that the conflicting event is canceled, the system and method of the invention is configured to use the log to retrieve the scheduled information and restore the meeting details to the calendar. The system and method of the invention is configured to send a prompt, via an email, for example, to the chair indicating the changed status.

For events that are chaired by the user (recipient), the system and method of the invention is configured to perform the following functions:

    • 1. In the case that the conflicting event is tentative or definite, the system and method of the invention is configured to delegate the meeting to someone else to chair. The system and method may retrieve information about the invited attendees from the log, and select one or more of these invited attendees as the chair. In the alternative approach, the system and method may parse an email sent to all invited attendees to determine attendee information such as, for example, names and contact information. The system and method can then notify such person(s) via email, for example. In the case that no chair can be found or a requested chair has declined the responsibility, the system and method is configured to automatically or via user prompt provide a cancel notice to the invited attendees.
    • 2. In the case that the conflicting event is definite or tentative, the system and method is configured to cancel the meeting and send a cancellation notice to all invited attendees.
    • 3. In the case that the conflicting event is cancelled, the system and method of the invention is configured to use the log to retrieve the scheduled information and restore the meeting details to the calendar. The system and method of the invention is configured to send a prompt, via an email, for example, to the invited attendees indicating the changed status, e.g., the meeting will proceed at the scheduled time.
    • 4. In any scenario, the system and method is configured to automatically reschedule the meeting using the same invited attendees and meeting details. In one implementation, the meeting can be rescheduled is the available attendees are above a percentage of individuals that can attend the meeting.

While the invention has been described in terms of embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention can be practiced with modifications and in the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

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