We’ve all been there. Countless emails, slow responses, and not knowing other’s calendars when it comes time to schedule a meeting. The amount of time it takes just to find a time to meet feels a little ridiculous sometimes. Surely there must be a better way, right?
Microsoft recently released a new application to solve this very problem. This project is called “Calendar.help” and is assisted by Cortana – Microsoft’s AI digital assistant, whose mission is to help you get things done. To now schedule a meeting with either a group or individual, simply CC: Cortana in an email and ask her in the email to set up a meeting! Cortana will automatically respond to those you invite and take care of all the back and forth emails by accessing anyone’s shared calendar or responding to emails of those who haven’t shared their calendar with Cortana. Not only will this save time and make meeting times more efficient, but it will also allow your organization to be overall more productive.
Calendar.help is a Microsoft service that can sync with Office 365, Outlook.com, or Google calendar. Cortana can use Calendar.help and preferences that you set to find the best meeting time for those you invite. Cortana will listen to and respond with natural language in emails – so there is no need to use a certain set of syntax when setting up meetings or responding.
Since this service is new, you will need to sign up for a preview of the service at Calendar.help. Once you have been accepted into this program you will be able to send emails out right away with Cortana in the CC: line of your email. Cortana will take care of the rest and can automatically add the agreed-upon meeting time to each party’s respective calendars.
You will need to set up parameters for the meeting when writing your email such as a location, duration of meeting, and a parameter for when you want to meet – for example, you could say “this upcoming week” or “either this Tuesday or Wednesday”. Set preferences can also be established so you don’t have to put a location or duration of a meeting every time you send an email invite. Once you send the email, Cortana will then check your calendar and ask those invited about times that work. When the invited member(s) reply either with a confirmation or a new proposed time, Cortana will continue the process until there is a meeting time agreed upon. Lastly, Cortana will send the meeting invite to all invited guests for you as well.
An example email would look like this:
We know – this sounds like a great tool! What about all the nitty-gritty details and logistics?
We’re glad you asked, and we have them here for you:
Question: What if someone is out of town or never responds?
Answer: Cortana will then send two follow-up emails to the people you invited and if they still don’t respond then Cortana will email you to keep you updated on their status of the response.
Question: Is there a way to keep myself updated through the process?
Answer: Yes, there is a meeting status page available if you want to check up on the progress that has been made.
Question: What if some people in the meeting are optional?
Answer: All you must do is CC the optional attendees and add the required attendees in the TO line. This is a preference you can enable.
Question: Is there anything Cortana cannot do?
Answer: At this time, Cortana needs to be told about different time zones if necessary. She also doesn’t take travel time into consideration. We expect improvements to be made so that this one day is a reality.
If this is a program you are interested in pursuing and utilizing, sign up for the preview of Cortana! If your organization is trying to get more value out of your Office 365 investment, contact Interlink and we can start a discussion about options so you can better access valuable tools like Cortana and more.