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Designing A Smart Calendar for Businesses

Feb 25 2014, 11:11am CST | by

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Designing A Smart Calendar for Businesses

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Designing A Smart Calendar for Businesses

For the past several months I’ve used a couple of smart calendars: Sunrise , and Tempo . I used to use Cue as well before they were bought by Apple. These tools all (kind of) automate stuff I used to do before taking calls or meetings: some background research on the person I’m meeting via Linkedin, Facebook etc. The idea I’ll describe below (we’ll call it SalesBuddy), builds on these smart calendars. It supplements them with all the private data that exists inside your company. So if you use Salesforce for CRM, Zendesk for support, and Evernote as a collaboration tool, Salesbuddy pulls in all the data about your upcoming meeting, from all the sources in your company, so you’re always prepared and never blindsided.

Since most of my meetings and calls are related to Hipmob (either for sales, BD, customer development, or just learning), I’ve found that increasingly the most relevant information isn’t available through these apps (their sources are Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Google Contacts for the most part). The most useful data is in the Saas services that we use to run our business: our helpdesk, CRM, Evernote, and email; when meeting a new potential client, you’d want to make sure you’re informed about anything going on with them that has something to do with your company: if someone on their team has sent a support query, if your account managers have had a recent conversation and made a note, etc. The simple answer is to connect all the Saas services you use, and pull from them via API. For this, we’ll call it SalesBuddy (forgive the rudimentary UI). To start, you’d sync your Saas services via SSO:

Salesbuddy syncs with your calendar, searches your system for everything related to the individual or company you’re meeting, then sends you a push with meeting prep notes 10 minutes before the meeting. As more folks within your company and team sign up, it’s able to pull information from their accounts as well, making you smarter by showing information you’d otherwise have to search extensively for, or ask for.

It also creates a forward looking feed of your upcoming meetings and calls. Each cell includes a brief summary of upcoming meetings and information inside your company related to your contact.

Expanding a cell shows you more of the data within each card – which Saas service it’s from, when it was updated and who on your team updated it, or corresponded.

So now instead of just having publicly available information (from Facebook/LinkedIn etc) to help you prepare, you have a detailed look at every interaction your contact and their company has had with you (or your company) since your last meeting.

Network Effect:
As your company gets bigger, this becomes more and more powerful. Two companies doing business together will often have multiple people communicating across sales, business development, engineering, marketing, account management, customer support, and so on. It’s impossible for each point person on both teams to track every single interaction. This tool does that job for you, (and for every other person at your company using it).

This is the biggest snag; the system would search for your contact’s name and company across your firm’s email, evernote, CRM, Support systems. Such a comprehensive search will definitely uncover things that are meant to be secret/private (for example job inquiries, love interests, transaction or contract data). There are 2 potential fixes to this:

  1. Filters; users can set a Gmail filter that limits which messages get indexed for the rest of their company to search. This is probably enough, but makes the UX pretty complicated as the folders have to be actively managed.
  2. Just don’t search email. This is gets rid of the privacy challenge entirely, but creates another one: by far the most useful “Saas” tool, in terms of the quality, relevance, and timeliness of data it contains, is definitely corporate email. Not being able to search this reduces how useful the smart calendar is as a whole.

Would you use something like this? Email – we’d love your suggestions.

Source: Forbes


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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
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