Friday, September 5, 2008

Cool Technology of the Week

Today, I received several requests from customers and other stakeholders to meet with me. Some send Outlook invitations, some call my assistant, some send email, and some propose times without checking with anyone. I'll be honest that Outlook invitations just do not work with my schedule, since I'm usually in five or more different locations each day and Outlook invitations can schedule me in Boston from 1pm-2pm and Washington DC from 2pm-3pm.

Since Outlook invitations, random proposed times, and constant back and forth among assistants can be problematic, is there a create IT solution to help with scheduling a meeting?

Dave deBronkart, the famous e-Patient Dave, works for TimeTrade, which makes enterprise-scale appointment systems for scheduling driving tests with the Department of Motor Vehicles, counseling with financial advisors and even sessions with PetCo pet groomers.

Dave has used their TimeDriver product (free for 90 days, then minimal advertising is included or you can buy a license) for people to pick an open time slot in his Outlook calendar without the usual back-and-forth i.e. Dave ends every email with

To schedule time with me, click here: 15 min 30 min 60 min

showing the timeslots that folks could simply self schedule into his day for conversations, customer service, or followups. Admittedly, Dave's use of the application is novel and not precisely the original design idea of TimeDriver, which was to support eMarketing appointment timeslot scheduling.

It's a cool idea that is a kind of self service social networking application for appointment scheduling.

I like this concept a great deal, since I'm a real fan of web-based self service applications. It will be interesting to see if large enterprises which want to improve their workflow can integrate this kind of technology into their personnel "appointmenting" processes.


Jim Bresee said...

This is a cool service!

Now he needs a facebook plugin and an iPhone app and he'll have gold!

Payment Shepherd said...

Thanks John, great service and so logical......blackberry plugin would certainly help too

e-Patient Dave said...

Thanks to both Jim and Payment Shepherd. It's heartening to see people clamoring for more plug-ins – believe me, we've got a list. :) But these are the first requests for Facebook and Blackberry, so thanks!

e-Patient Dave,
who also has a day job

e-Patient Dave said...

Jim and Payment Shepherd,

We tossed this around a little and it occurred to us that we may not fully understand what you're after.

The same link that I have in my email signatures can be used in other places. For instance, this how-to page illustrates putting it on your LinkedIn profile. (Note to self: need to do that on mine!)

Re BlackBerry etc: in the appointment business we've learned that the only thing that really works is a "hub and spokes" strategy, with a single calendar that's the "real" calendar, and everything else syncs with it. It can be Outlook or Google or what have you. So the question becomes, which calendar is your hub? And if you don't want to wait for a TimeDriver plug-in, would it work to sync that device with a Google calendar?

I'm not saying "you don't need that" - as I say, we do have a list. Just exploring what folks want to do.

(I don't want to abuse the privilege on John's blog here - anyone's welcome to write to dave at (Otoh, John's the one who said it's cool. :))

We're going to add some things to our FAQ page about this - thanks.

TimeDriver Team said...

As John noted, Dave's use of TimeDriver is somewhat unconventional.

Most people use TimeDriver to schedule either phone appointments or face-to-face. If you create an invitation using the phone
option, the person who responds will be asked to provide a phone number, eliminating one more step from the usual back-and-forth.

Here's an example from our demo account, the fictional but charming Stuart Holman - go ahead and try it:

Click here to schedule a call with me

Marco Peterson
Founder, TimeTrade Systems