AUTOMATED ANALYSIS AND MECHANIZATION OF SCHEDULING

US 2012 150 581A1

drawing #0

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Systems and methods for cross-domain calendaring are described. A plurality of invitees is identified in response to an event scheduling request and scheduling information for each invitee is obtained. The scheduling information includes information obtained from at least two different types of calendaring system and comprises information regarding other events associated with each invitee. A priority is set for each invitee based on the scheduling information and the event scheduling request.

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Claims

1. A method, comprising:
identifying a plurality of invitees in response to an event scheduling request;
obtaining scheduling information each invitee, wherein the scheduling information includes information obtained from at least two different types of calendaring system, and wherein the scheduling information includes information related to other events associated with each invitee;
assigning a priority for each invitee based on the scheduling information and the event scheduling request, wherein assigning priorities includes determining the level of necessity of attendance by each invitee; and
selecting a prospective event date based on the assigned priorities and the event scheduling request.

Show 9 dependent claims

11. A system comprising:
a server configured to maintain calendaring information related to a plurality of users and a plurality of scheduled events;
a universal scheduler coupled the server and further coupled through a network to a plurality of different calendaring systems, wherein for each calendaring system, at least one of the plurality of users maintains a calendar on the each calendaring system,
wherein responsive to a scheduling request identifying certain of the users, the server causes the universal scheduler to query a calendaring system corresponding to each of the certain users and to provide scheduling information related to the each user to the server, and
wherein the server is configured to select a first available time for all of the certain to meet regardless of location or telecom conditions.

Show dependent claim

13. A non-transitory computer-readable storage medium encoded with data and instructions that, when executed by a computing system, cause the computing system to:
identify a plurality of invitees in response to an event scheduling request;
obtain scheduling information each invitee, wherein the scheduling information includes information obtained from at least two different types of calendaring system, and wherein the scheduling information includes other events associated with each invitee;
assign a priority for each invitee based on the scheduling information and the event scheduling request, wherein assigning priorities includes determining the level of necessity of attendance by each invitee; and
select a prospective event date based on the assigned priorities and the event scheduling request.

Show 7 dependent claims

Description

The present application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/390,520 filed Oct. 6, 2010, which is expressly incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to scheduling and more particularly to tools that automatically determine common availability across multiple domains and Calendar system types.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Certain embodiments of the invention provide cross-domain and cross-application scheduling tools which enable a user to automatically determine the common availability of multiple persons and/or resources across multiple domains, to determine the first available time for all attendees to meet regardless of location or telecom conditions, and to be able to automatically suggest the next available time should any invited party declare an unavailability.

Certain embodiments of the invention provide systems, methods, processes, and tools for determining the cross-domain and cross-application scheduling availability. Discrete, strategic capabilities enabled according to certain aspects of the invention may include an ability to identify all meeting invitees, an ability to identify all schedule availabilities for each invitee, an ability to identify the nature of all scheduled events of each invitee, the ability to differentiate between teleconferences and in-person meetings, and to determine the physical location of all in-person scheduled events. Discrete, strategic capabilities enabled according to certain aspects of the invention may also include an ability to identify the relative importance and/or priority of each scheduled event of each invitee, and to determine the relative priority between existing scheduled events and the event under analysis to be scheduled. Discrete, strategic capabilities enabled according to certain aspects of the invention may also include an ability to identify and record the nature, desired length, desired location, desired priority, desired participants, and desired relative date range of the to-be-scheduled meeting. Discrete, strategic capabilities enabled according to certain aspects of the invention may also include an ability to analyze all facets of each invitee's schedule to determine actual effective availability, including factors such as travel time required to reach the requested schedule event and the travel time required from the to-be-scheduled event to the next scheduled event.

In certain embodiments, the discrete, strategic capabilities enabled according to certain aspects of the invention may include an ability to analyze various determinations and findings enabled by aspects of the invention to determine the best possible match or matches for the to-be-scheduled meeting against the availability of the invitees and/or to make the best recommendations for invitee schedule changes in the event no common availability exists across one or more invitees' availability within the requested parameters provided by the meeting organizer. Discrete, strategic capabilities enabled according to certain aspects of the invention may also include an ability to reserve and/or hold as tentative earliest commonly available schedule time on each invitees' schedule for the to-be-scheduled event until each invitee declares the meeting time acceptable or unacceptable.

Certain embodiments determine availability and related attributes of scheduled events of each attendee via a sub-function attached to each invitee's scheduling data, and can then determine the best available time for the to-be-scheduled event.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is simplified depiction of one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a simplified block schematic depicting a centralized scheduling system according to certain aspects of the invention.

FIG. 3 is simplified process functional block diagram according to certain aspects of the invention.

FIG. xx is a simplified block schematic illustrating a processing system employed in certain embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described in detail with reference to the drawings, which are provided as illustrative examples so as to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. Notably, the figures and examples below are not meant to limit the scope of the present invention to a single embodiment, but other embodiments are possible by way of interchange of some or all of the described or illustrated elements. Wherever convenient, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to same or like parts. Where certain elements of these embodiments can be partially or fully implemented using known components, only those portions of such known components that are necessary for an understanding of the present invention will be described, and detailed descriptions of other portions of such known components will be omitted so as not to obscure the invention. In the present specification, an embodiment showing a singular component should not be considered limiting; rather, the descriptions herein are intended to encompass other embodiments including a plurality of the same component, and vice-versa, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Moreover, applicants do not intend for any term in the specification or claims to be ascribed an uncommon or special meaning unless explicitly set forth as such. Further, embodiments of the present invention encompass present and future known equivalents to the components referred to herein by way of illustration.

Certain embodiments of the invention provide a centralized calendaring system that performs a variety of automated analysis and mechanization processes deployed as a universal scheduling system that can operate across network domains and between a variety of calendaring systems found on those network domains. In one example, a central calendaring system may be employed to facilitate scheduling of events for a plurality of users of different calendar and/or Email systems. In certain embodiments, resources such as meeting rooms, satellite availability, teleconferencing facilities, projectors, support staff, etc. can also be scheduled, including when the resources are tracked using a calendaring system. For ease of description, resources will be considered a user that can be schedules and prioritized. In the simple example depicted in FIG. 1, central calendaring system 10 communicates with multiple devices 140, 142 and 16, that are typically connected to different network domains and that can operate in different calendar domains. For example, computing device 16 may be located on a business network and, where the device is notebook or other portable computing device, may connect from a user's home, or from any location that can provide wireless or other network connection. Moreover, computing device 16 may employ one or more calendaring systems. For example, the user may conduct business using an enterprise system, and may use a personal Email account or social networking application for non-business use. In one example, the enterprise system may be implemented using Microsoft Outlook, while the personal system may be accessed through Google Calendar. It will appreciated that the selection of a system for enterprise and personal use is entirely a matter of user choice and it is contemplated that any suitable calendaring system can be accommodated by a central calendaring system constructed according to certain aspects of the invention.

Continuing with FIG. 1, certain devices, including personal communication device 142 and tablet computer 140, which connect through wireless network transceiver 14, may have internal calendars that can interact with a central calendaring system 10 according to certain aspects of the invention. Personal communication device 142 can be a cellular telephone, a smart phone, a multimedia player, a gaming device or any other potable device configurable to communicate wirelessly with a network. In addition to personal communication device 142 and tablet computer 140, other computing devices that may be connected using wired or wireless networks can be supported in certain embodiments of the invention.

Certain embodiments of the invention may be used to coordinate, organize and manage calendared events across multiple calendaring domains, independently of the physical network domain upon which user devices are located. With reference to FIG. 2, central calendaring system 10 may be configured to perform any of a plurality of functions, including maintaining a central calendar for identified users and/or scheduled events; and creating and coordinating events by interrogating and negotiating with two or more different calendar systems 22, which can be implemented using the same or different calendaring systems. Central calendaring system 10 may employ a customized, adapted or configured universal scheduler 20 that communicates with each of the calendar systems 22 to determine availability of proposed participants of an event and to request reservation of time for the event and/or to request notification of the user that the event has been calendared. Scheduler 20 may be embodied in the same physical computing device as central calendaring system 10 and/or may be implemented in a plurality of different computing systems that can be physically remote from one another. In certain embodiments, central calendaring system 10 may be configured to provide notification directly to participants and to directly receive response confirming or declining the event. Typically, central calendaring system 10 can be configured to update each of calendar systems 22 (using scheduler 20, for example) when a communication is received from a user in relation to the calendared event.

In certain embodiments, central calendaring system 10 can be adapted and/or configured to monitor, track, and analyze historical scheduling trends for individual users, groups of users and resources. Information obtained from such monitoring, tracking and analysis may be used to predict the viability of a given timeslot. In one example, central calendaring system 10 monitors, tracks, and analyzes historical scheduling trends associated with each user of the system and/or for each participant in a selected event or event type. Central calendaring system 10 can predict the viability of a given timeslot regardless of the availability at the time of scheduling consideration.

In one example, certain timeslots may be reserved for another event of a type that has a high percentage of cancellations. In another example, central calendaring system 10 can use historical data associated with an individual participant, and trends derived from such data, to project the probability that the participant will actually be able to attend a desired meeting at the actual time of the meeting, although the participant may have other commitments at the time the event is calendared. Therefore, certain aspects of the invention can account for volatile calendars associated with users and resources. According to certain aspects of the invention, events can be scheduled even when one or more proposed participants have not reported availability, but where historical information is available to enable reliable estimates of probability of availability of the non-reporting participants.

In certain embodiments, scheduler 20 can act as a proxy for a user of calendar systems 22; in certain embodiments account access information related to users can be maintained on scheduler 20 but cannot be viewed or accessed directly by central calendaring system 10. In certain embodiments scheduler 20 can be defined as a delegate for the user and typically is granted limited permission to view, create, modify or delete certain calendar events. Accordingly, the central calendaring system 10 and/or scheduler 20 can be configured to maintain account access information or the individual calendar systems can be configured to permit certain accesses by scheduler 20, thereby allowing a wide range of security options to protect calendar information. Additionally, scheduler 20 may mirror information provided by calendar systems 22 in response to individual requests for information. For example, scheduler 20 may request availability information for a user over a given time frame and this information may be maintained until a calendared event is agreed and confirmed. In certain embodiments, scheduler 20 may provisionally reserve certain time periods in order to find a commonly acceptable date and time for an event.

In certain embodiments, calendaring system 10 can automatically create an event calendar by personal network, region, topic, etc. enabling meeting planners (event, seminar, conference, wedding etc.) to discern the best time to hold an event that doesn't conflict with other key events. Certain aspects of the invention can optimize meetings for people traveling to a region. For example, the system may be configured to analyze contacts, relationship management system, Facebook, LinkedIn and other components that manage relationships to identify potential contacts that the traveler can meet while in the area. For example, analytics systems can be configured to determine how a maximum number of people in a region can be contacted and/or visited and the scheduling system can arrange and optimized business and/or personal trips to achieve optimal connections according to user preferences and system rules.

In certain embodiments, the system can reach into social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. in order to perform analytics that deliver a world class social secretary in virtual form.

FIG. 3 depicts certain functional components of a system constructed according to certain aspects of the invention. Scheduler 20 can function as conduit for scheduling activity between a scheduling engine 302 that is responsive to meeting organizer scheduling tool 300. A plurality of systems and applications can interact with scheduling engine 302. For example, one or more customized scheduling tools 300 can be deployed to implement scheduling rules for an enterprise or group of users. One or more social networking systems can interact with scheduling engine 302 and one or more analytics systems can receive scheduling information in order to facilitate improved and optimized scheduling functions within an enterprise.

In certain embodiments, scheduling engine 20 can be configured to maintain historical data for one or more or all individual users and can typically be adapted to aggregate historical data for groups of users and/or for frequently occurring events and event types, Information that may be captured can include invitation acceptance rates, which may be categorized by time-of-day, by weekday, by month, etc. Information that may be captured can include cancellations after acceptance and actual attendance at events. Historical data captured, maintained and aggregated by scheduling engine can further include geographical location of individual users. The historical information maybe used to correlate acceptance rates with time and date of meetings and/or location of invitees and/or meeting place. In this regard, method of participation is typically captured and can indicate preferences for in-person attendance or attendance by teleconference.

For each calendar system 320-323 registered or incorporated in the universal scheduling system, an agent 330-333 may be deployed in the calendar system 320-323. The agent may include software plug-ins, libraries, scripts, macros or any component that can be integrated with the calendar system 320-323. Agents 330-333 typically perform various functions that enable certain aspects of the invention. For example, agents 330-333 may intercept Email or SMS messages received from universal scheduler 20 and may perform queries, issue invitations, provide status information and/or reserve calendar dates on the host Email system 320-323. Accordingly, users of the system may be shielded from communications related to negotiation of an event date or format. For example, a user may respond to an invitation by indicating preferred dates which are often prioritized. Thereafter, the user receives only Emails or SMS messages that confirm a date, time and location of the event or that request an alternative date or time. In another example, some portion of the scheduling process may be performed without user notification and in order to identify high-potential candidates for meeting dates.

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