SYSTEM, METHOD AND COMPUTER PROGRAM PRODUCT FOR LEVERAGING A CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT SYSTEM TO SEND MEETING INVITATIONS

US 2011 99 042A1

drawing #0

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There are provided mechanisms and methods for leveraging a customer relationship management system (CRM) to send meeting invitations. These mechanisms and methods for leveraging a CRM system to send meeting invitations can enable identification of invitees to which to send the meeting invitation using customer information stored by the CRM system. The ability to leverage the CRM system to identify the invitees can provide a more efficient technique for scheduling meetings.

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Claims

1. A computer program product embodied on a tangible computer readable medium, comprising:
computer code for receiving, from a requestor via an interface of a customer relationship management system, a request to schedule a meeting;
computer code for identifying at least one invitee to the meeting, utilizing the customer relationship management system; and
computer code for sending an invitation to the meeting to the at least one invitee.

Show 17 dependent claims

19. A method, comprising:
receiving, from a requestor via an interface of a customer relationship management system, a request to schedule a meeting;
identifying at least one invitee to which to the meeting, utilizing the customer relationship management system; and
sending an invitation to the meeting to the at least one invitee.
20. An apparatus, comprising:
a processor for:
receiving, from a requestor via an interface of a customer relationship management system, a request to schedule a meeting;
identifying at least one invitee to the meeting, utilizing the customer relationship management system; and
sending an invitation to the meeting to the at least one invitee.
21. A method for transmitting code, comprising:
transmitting code to receive, from a requestor via an interface of a customer relationship management system, a request to schedule a meeting;
transmitting code to identify at least one invitee to the meeting, utilizing the customer relationship management system; and
transmitting code to send an invitation to the meeting to the at least one invitee.

Description

CLAIM OF PRIORITY

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 61/254,534 entitled Advanced Scheduling, by Ron Yerkes, filed Oct. 23, 2009 (Attorney Docket No. SFC1P056+/150PROV), the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

The following commonly owned, co-pending United States patent application, including the present application, are related to each other. Each of the other patents/applications are incorporated by reference herein in its entirety:

U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/584,924 entitled Method and System for Providing In-Line Scheduling in an On-Demand Service, by Yerkes et al., filed Sep. 14, 2009.

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

One or more implementations relate generally to scheduling meetings, and more particularly to meeting invitations.

BACKGROUND

The subject matter discussed in the background section should not be assumed to be prior art merely as a result of its mention in the background section. Similarly, a problem mentioned in the background section or associated with the subject matter of the background section should not be assumed to have been previously recognized in the prior art. The subject matter in the background section merely represents different approaches, which in and of themselves may also be inventions.

Conventionally, applications have been provided for electronically scheduling meetings between people, such as calendaring applications, etc. Unfortunately, these conventional applications have exhibited numerous limitations. For example, scheduling applications have typically not leveraged, and specifically have been separate from, existing customer relationship management systems. Thus, customer information used for scheduling meetings has generally been required to be imported from other systems or manually entered, thereby slowing the process of scheduling meetings.

Another exemplary limitation includes calendaring systems which do not facilitate the negotiation of meeting times (e.g. such that meeting organizers must use other mechanisms, such as phone, email, etc. for negotiating times), but instead require the organizer to propose a single specific time for the meeting. This dramatically increases the amount of time and effort required to set up a meeting, especially when attendees are typically on different calendaring systems and cannot access one another's free/busy information. In addition, since organizers are oftentimes required to use email to arrange times, the cumulative conversation about a meeting is usually lost in the Inbox and not associated with the meeting. This is problematic if an organizer needs to reschedule a meeting and use time preferences expressed by invitees during the original negotiation.

Another exemplary limitation includes calendaring systems which do not give users the ability to share free/busy information between disparate calendaring systems, such that identifying a specific time to propose the meeting, as described above, is either not based on known availability of the invitees or requires extraneous communications with the invitees to discover their availability. Yet another exemplary limitation includes calendaring systems which do not allow organizers to brand and personalize the invitation experience. Accordingly, a more efficient technique for scheduling meetings having increased functionality over the traditional scheduling applications is desirable.

BRIEF SUMMARY

In accordance with embodiments, there are provided mechanisms and methods for leveraging a customer relationship management system (CRM) to send meeting invitations. These mechanisms and methods for leveraging a CRM system to send meeting invitations can enable identification of invitees to which to send the meeting invitation using customer information stored by the CRM system. The ability of embodiments to leverage the CRM system to identify the invitees can provide a more efficient technique for scheduling meetings.

In an embodiment and by way of example, a method for leveraging a CRM system to send meeting invitations is provided. In use, a request to schedule a meeting is received from a requestor via an interface of a CRM system. Additionally, at least one invitee to the meeting is identified utilizing the CRM system. Further, an invitation to the meeting is sent to the at least one invitee.

While one or more implementations and techniques are described with reference to an embodiment in which leveraging a CRM system to send meeting invitations is implemented in a system having an application server providing a front end for an on-demand database service capable of supporting multiple tenants, the one or more implementations and techniques are not limited to multi-tenant databases nor deployment on application servers. Embodiments may be practiced using other database architectures, i.e., ORACLE®, DB2® by IBM and the like without departing from the scope of the embodiments claimed.

Any of the above embodiments may be used alone or together with one another in any combination. The one or more implementations encompassed within this specification may also include embodiments that are only partially mentioned or alluded to or are not mentioned or alluded to at all in this brief summary or in the abstract. Although various embodiments may have been motivated by various deficiencies with the prior art, which may be discussed or alluded to in one or more places in the specification, the embodiments do not necessarily address any of these deficiencies. In other words, different embodiments may address different deficiencies that may be discussed in the specification. Some embodiments may only partially address some deficiencies or just one deficiency that may be discussed in the specification, and some embodiments may not address any of these deficiencies.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the following drawings like reference numbers are used to refer to like elements. Although the following figures depict various examples, the one or more implementations are not limited to the examples depicted in the figures.

FIG. 1 illustrates a method for leveraging a customer relationship management (CRM) system to send meeting invitations, in accordance with one embodiment;

FIG. 2 illustrates a method of a CRM system for scheduling a meeting, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 3 illustrates a graphical user interface (GUI) for allowing a requestor of a meeting to leverage customer information within a CRM system to identify an invitee to which to send an invitation to a meeting, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 4A illustrates a GUI for allowing a requestor of the meeting to propose multiple times for the meeting to be included in the invitation to the meeting, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 4B illustrates a GUI for allowing a requestor of the meeting to request the CRM system to automatically propose multiple times for the meeting to be included in the invitation to the meeting, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 5 illustrates a GUI presenting a branded invitation to a meeting, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 6 illustrates a GUI presenting an invitation to a meeting which includes proposed times for the meeting that are selectable by the invitee, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 7 illustrates a GUI presenting meeting times selected by invitees, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 8 illustrates a GUI presenting information for a scheduled meeting which may be downloaded into an invitee's calendar system, in accordance with yet another embodiment;

FIG. 9 illustrates a block diagram of an example of an environment wherein an on-demand database service might be used; and

FIG. 10 illustrates a block diagram of an embodiment of elements of FIG. 9 and various possible interconnections between these elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION
General Overview

Systems and methods are provided for leveraging a customer relationship management (CRM) system to send meeting invitations.

As used herein, the term multi-tenant database system refers to those systems in which various elements of hardware and software of the database system may be shared by one or more customers. For example, a given application server may simultaneously process requests for a great number of customers, and a given database table may store rows for a potentially much greater number of customers. As used herein, the term query plan refers to a set of steps used to access information in a database system.

Next, mechanisms and methods for providing leveraging a CRM system to send meeting invitations will be described with reference to example embodiments.

FIG. 1 illustrates a method 100 for leveraging a customer relationship management (CRM) system to send meeting invitations, in accordance with one embodiment. As shown in operation 102, a request to schedule a meeting is received from a requestor via an interface of a CRM system. With respect to the present description, the meeting includes any scheduled event during which at least two parties communicate. For example, the meeting may include a teleconference, an in-person meeting, or any other session during which communications between parties occurs. To this end, scheduling the meeting may include determining a time, place, etc. for the meeting which is agreeable to the parties to the meeting.

Optionally, the requestor from which the request to schedule the meeting is received may include one of the aforementioned parties. Of course, as another option, the requestor may not necessarily be a party to the meeting. For example, the requestor may request the meeting for (e.g. on behalf of) other parties to the meeting.

Also, with respect to the present description, the CRM system includes any system (e.g. applications, service, etc.) which manages relationships with customers. It should be noted that such customers may be customers of any provider (e.g. service provider, product provider, etc.). For example, the customers may be customers of the requestor, and the requestor may utilize the CRM application for managing its relationships with its customers.

In various embodiments, the CRM system may store profile information for the customers (e.g. contact information, customer transactions, demographic information, etc.), and may further be utilized to convert leads into customers, view account-related information and activities, respond to customer calls or emails, capture information about customer interactions, manage tasks and follow-up activities, etc. In one embodiment, the CRM system may include a synchronization component that synchronizes an invitee's CRM system calendar with another calendar (e.g. Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple iCal, etc.). One such synchronization component is described in co-pending U.S. Patent Application No. 61/320,184 entitled Sync API, by Markham et al., filed Apr. 1, 2010. Just by way of example, the CRM system may integrated within a multi-tenant on-demand database system, such as that described below with respect to FIGS. 9 and 10, such that the requestor and/or other parties to the meeting may include tenants of the multi-tenant on-demand database system.

As noted above, the request to schedule the meeting is received via an interface of the CRM system. In one embodiment, the interface may include a graphical user interface (GUI) with a selectable option to schedule a meeting, such that the request may be received in response to selection of the option. In another embodiment, the interface may include a GUI with fields for receiving configurable parameters to be used in scheduling the meeting (e.g. a time for the meeting, etc.), such that the request may be received based on the receipt of the configurable parameters.

Additionally, as shown in operation 104, at least one invitee to the meeting is identified utilizing the CRM system. With respect to the present description, the invitee includes any of the aforementioned parties to the meeting which is separate from the requestor. In particular, the invitee includes a party desired by the requestor to be invited to the meeting.

It should be noted that the invitee may be identified utilizing the CRM system in any manner. As described above, the CRM system may store information associated with customers. Thus, in the present embodiment, the invitee may be a customer, such that the invitee may be identified from customer information stored by the CRM system (e.g. a list of customers maintained by the CRM system).

In one embodiment, the invitee may be identified in response to selection by the requestor of the invitee (e.g. an identifier of the invitee) from a plurality of invitees for which information is maintained by the CRM system. Accordingly, the CRM may include a GUI for allowing the requestor to select which invitees are to be invited to the meeting. In another embodiment, the request to schedule the meeting may be received from a GUI displaying details associated with (e.g. a profile of) the invitee, such that the invitee may be automatically identified as a result of its profile being the source of the request to schedule the meeting.

Moreover, identifying the invitee may include identifying, via the CRM system, any information associated with the invitee. For example, an email address of the invitee or any other contact information associated with the invitee may be identified, the reasons for which are set forth in more detail below.

Further, as shown in operation 106, an invitation to the meeting is sent to the at least one invitee. In the present embodiment, the invitation may include any notification requesting participation of the invitee in the meeting. Thus, the invitation may include various information associated with the meeting.

In one embodiment, the information may be included (e.g. by the requestor) in the request to schedule the meeting. Of course, such information may be received separate from the request, in another embodiment. Still yet, the invitation may be configured utilizing the information. Optionally, the information may include a logo, proposed times for the meeting, a location of the meeting, a list of parties to the meeting, etc.

It should be noted that, in one embodiment, the invitation may be sent by the CRM system. In yet another embodiment, the invitation may be sent utilizing the above described information associated with the invitee (e.g. the email address, etc.). In a further embodiment, the invitation may be sent to a scheduling application (e.g. a calendar application, etc.) utilized by the invitee for managing appointments, meetings, etc. Optionally, the scheduling application may be provided as a component of the CRM system, or may be an application separate from the CRM system.

To this end, a CRM system may be utilized at least to identify an invitee to a meeting in response to a received request to schedule a meeting. In this way, customer information maintained by the CRM system may be leveraged to identify the invitee. Such existing customer information may be utilized such that manual entry of the invitee by the requestor of the meeting or importation of the invitee from a remote system may be avoided.

More illustrative information will now be set forth regarding various optional architectures and features with which the foregoing technique may or may not be implemented, per the desires of the user. It should be strongly noted that the following information is set forth for illustrative purposes and should not be construed as limiting in any manner. Any of the following features may be optionally incorporated with or without the exclusion of other features described.

FIG. 2 illustrates a method 200 of a CRM system for scheduling a meeting, in accordance with another embodiment. As an option, the method 200 may be carried out in the context of the architecture and environment of FIG. 1. For example, the method 200 may be carried out utilizing the CRM system described above with respect to FIG. 1. Of course, however, the method 200 may be carried out in any desired environment.

As shown in decision 202, it is determined whether a request to schedule a meeting is received from a requestor. With respect to the present embodiment, the request may be received via an interface of a CRM system. For example, a GUI of the CRM system may include an option for scheduling a meeting that is selectable by the requestor.

If it is determined that the request to schedule the meeting has not been received, the method 200 continues to wait for such a request to be received. Once it is determined that the request has been received, at least one invitee to be invited to the meeting is identified. Note operation 204. In the present embodiment, the invitee is identified utilizing the CRM system. For example, the invitee may be selected from a list of invitees, or may be automatically identified in response to the scheduling of the meeting being requested from within a profile of the invitee provided by the CRM system.

In addition, a plurality of times for the meeting may be identified. Note operation 206. In one embodiment, the times may be identified from proposed times entered by the requestor (e.g. via a GUI of the CRM system, with the request, etc.). The proposed times may include specific days and/or times during at least one specific day for the meeting.

Optionally, such proposed times may be manually determined by the requestor based on free and busy information associated with the requestor, the invitee, and/or a location of the meeting. Such free and busy information may be provided to the requestor from a calendar application (e.g. of the CRM application or separate from the CRM application) for use in determining the proposed times. The free information may include times during which other meetings/appointments are not scheduled, whereas the busy information may include times during which other meetings/appointments are scheduled.

In another embodiment, the times may be identified automatically by the CRM system. For example, the times may be automatically identified based on parameters input by the requestor. Such parameters may include a duration of the meeting, a time period during which the meeting is to be held, a location of the meeting, etc. As another example, the times may be automatically identified utilizing free and busy information associated with the invitee, requestor, and/or location of the meeting (such as the free and busy information described above). In one exemplary embodiment, the times may include times meeting the parameters and/or during which no other meetings/appointments are scheduled (e.g. as determined from the free and busy information).

Further, an invitation to the meeting is sent to the invitee, where the invitation includes an indication of each of the times. Note operation 208. The invitation may be sent to a calendar application utilized by the invitee, via email, etc. Optionally, the invitation may be sent based on information associated with the invitee (e.g. the email address of the invitee, an identifier of the invitee associated with a calendar application utilized by the invitee, etc.), as determined in conjunction with identification of the invitee.

In one embodiment, the invitation may include a GUI for notifying the invitee of the request that the invitee attend the meeting. Moreover, such GUI may be interactive. For example, in the context of the present embodiment, the indication of each of the times in the invitation may be selectable by the invitee for notifying the requestor of one of the times preferred by the at least one invitee.

Thus, the invitee may select on the invitation one of the times indicated in the invitation at which the invitee prefers the meeting to be held. To this end, it is determined whether a selection of one of the times is received from the invitee. Note decision 210. For example, it may be determined whether the invitee has selected one of the times on the invitation. Optionally, the invitee may select one of the times and further select an option on the invitation to submit the selected time to the requestor, such that the selected time may be received in response to the selection of option.

If it is determined that a selection of one of the times has not been received from the invitee, the method 200 continues to wait for receipt of such a selection. However, once it is determined that a selection of one of the times has not been received from the invitee, the selected time is sent to the requestor. Note operation 212. In one embodiment, the selection may be sent to the requestor via the application utilized by the requestor to submit the request to schedule the meeting (in operation 202).

Moreover, the requestor may utilize the received selection for confirming to the invitee one of the times for the meeting. For example, for each invitee to which the invitation with the times is sent, the requestor may receive a selected time from such invitee. Further, upon receipt of a selected time from all of the invitees to which the invitation was sent, the requestor may determine at which of the times included in the invitation the meeting is to be held and may further confirm the same to the invitees. Just by way of example, the time determined by the requestor may include a time commonly selected by all of the invitees, a time commonly selected by a majority of the invitees, etc. In addition, the requestor may confirm the determined time to the invitees by sending the invitees a notification of the confirmed time (e.g. which the invitees may download to their respective calendar applications, etc.).

In addition to the operations described above, the CRM system may provide additional functionality. In one embodiment, support for rescheduling meetings may be provided, such that at any time the requestor can re-enter the method 200 described above to facilitate the identification of a new time for a previously scheduled meeting. In another embodiment, natural language parsing may be utilized for allowing invitees to propose other times for the meeting not included in the proposed times provided by the requestor or automatically by the system. The other proposed times may be translated into structured data that can be used by the requestor.

In another embodiment, invitees may sign-up for a scheduling application in order to share free/busy information with other customers which may or may not be a part of the same organization. This may enable a network of users that can plan, execute, and follow-up on events across companies. In yet another embodiment, the method 200 described above may be employed on a mobile device, such that both requestors and invitees may be able to interact using their mobile devices to schedule meetings. In still yet another embodiment, phasing of meeting time confirmation may be provided, such that a requestor may receive confirmation (e.g. via multiple confirmation steps) from at least a subset of invitees of their availability prior to proposing times for a meeting to those invitees. For example, in the selling scenario, a request may want to get confirmation from the requester's sales team initially before proposing times to customers.

FIG. 3 illustrates a GUI 300 for allowing a requestor of a meeting to leverage customer information within a CRM system to identify an invitee to which to send an invitation to a meeting, in accordance with another embodiment. As an option, the GUI 300 may be implemented in the context of the architecture and environment of FIGS. 1-2. For example, the GUI 300 may be provided by the CRM system described above with respect to FIG. 1. Of course, however, the GUI 300 may be implemented in any desired environment.

As shown, the GUI 300 may present information associated with a particular customer (e.g. which is maintained by a CRM system). The GUI 300 may be displayed upon selection of the customer from a list of customers, in one embodiment. The GUI 300 may further include an option 302 to request that a meeting be scheduled with the customer (hereinafter the invitee).

Upon selection of the option 302, another GUI may be displayed for use in identifying times at which the meeting is proposed to be scheduled. Examples of such other GUI are described below with respect to FIGS. 4A-B.

FIG. 4A illustrates a GUI 400 for allowing a requestor of the meeting to propose multiple times for the meeting to be included in the invitation to the meeting, in accordance with another embodiment. As an option, the GUI 400 may be implemented in the context of the architecture and environment of FIGS. 1-3. For example, the GUI 400 may be provided by the CRM system described above with respect to FIG. 1. Of course, however, the GUI 400 may be implemented in any desired environment.

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