Introducing Tungle Accelerate

Last week Tungle Corporation, a developer of software to reduce the pain of scheduling meetings between people, released a new web-based service called Tungle Accelerate. The service has been under development for a year and half, and greatly extends the capability of Tungle’s offering to streamline and simplify meeting scheduling. Until last week, the Tungle service consisted of an Outlook-plug for calendar sharing; Tungle Accelerate is a major enhancement.

The Technology: How It Works
In essence, here’s how Tungle Accelerate works:

  1. A person wanting to use Tungle to simplify meeting scheduling with others signs up for a free Tungle Accelerate account.
  2. Their calendar becomes Tungle aware, through the installation of a plug-in.
  3. When they want to schedule a meeting with someone else, they use the Tungle Web page to create a meeting request. This involves nominating blocks of time on particular days when they could have the meeting.
  4. Tungle sends the meeting request to the invited parties. They say when they can attend, using the web page for the meeting. They do not require a Tungle account to use Tungle for responding to a meeting.
  5. Once a meeting has been found that all invited parties can attend, everyone is notified … and it’s a marvel of engineering to see what the Tungle people have pulled off with respect to how it works with the four different calendars.

Tungle Accelerate works with Outlook, Apple iCal, Apple Entourage, and Google Calendar. Lotus Notes support is coming by the end of 2009 (Tungle and IBM announced a partnership at Lotusphere 2009). People can use their mobile device to respond to a meeting request. Meeting times are automatically translated to take cross-timezone realities into account. Available times are automatically updated as other meetings are confirmed — meaning that you can kiss goodbye to double bookings. There are other technical capabilities that I haven’t noted above … this is not an exhaustive list! See the Tungle Features page for more.

There is a basic web interface for people that are not registered for Tungle that enables them to respond to a meeting request, and there is an enhanced web interface for registered users. For example, Sam is a registered user. When Sam looks at the Tungle web interface, he can see his own calendar and overlay it with other people’s calendar, assuming that they have allowed Sam to see their Tungle calendar. If Sam wants to share his calendar with Betty, he has one of two options: show Betty only his free/busy information, or show Betty meeting details as well–which practically speaking means the meeting subject is added to the overlay.

To learn more, see the Tungle video on YouTube:

The Implications: The People Factor
Calendaring is broken, for the reasons that I explained in Pillar 4 of the 7 Pillars model back in 2005. It works in some tightly controlled situations, but most meeting scheduling today requires going back to email messages to query others about when they could meet on what days. It’s just not good enough, and if you add team collaboration sites or places to the equation, generally it really fails.

Making meeting scheduling work better between people is a noble cause, and I commend Tungle for its work in making this happen. When I was invited to a meeting organized by Marc from Tungle, it was a really simple and transparent process: I clicked the link in the email message, I clicked a time on the calendar shown in my web browser, and I confirmed that the time was right. The Tungle service then notified Marc and I of our meeting, along with a calendar event for Marc to add to Outlook and for me to add to Apple iCal. It just worked … it just worked. What would normally be a multi-email exchange was greatly streamlined, much less stressful, and it was easy. That’s the way it should be.

What’s Next?
There are some good things coming up on the technical side for Tungle … better mobile device support (eg, for scheduling a meeting rather than just accepting a meeting), Lotus Notes support (for greater market footprint), and social calendaring (more to come on that phrase later).

I’ll be trying Tungle myself. I’ve signed up for an account, and am brainstorming ways of using it in my business. So if you request a meeting with me … don’t be surprised if you get an email from Tungle asking you when you’d like to meet with me.

What’s your current experience with calendaring? Is there room in your work life for Tungle?