Microsoft Outlook needs an enhanced ‘location’ capability in the Calendar capability. Right now Outlook Calendar is the first and most used ‘collaboration’ by customers, but its focus is on coordinating *when* people are available. A critical second dimension of collaboration is and will become increasingly *where* people are available.
Outlook implicitly assumes the traditional context of ‘office work’ where all parties converge to work in geographic proximity at a ‘knowledge worker factory’. Increasingly, knowledge work will be as modular, distributed and flexible as web services. Think kanban/JIT/integrated-supply-chain for knowledge work. In this environment, bringing together knowledge worker resources geographically will be as important as chronological coordination.
Furthermore, Microsoft has an exceptional asset to which to apply to this area: Live Maps. Through the integration of LiveMap GIS capability, Outlook will be able to help people arrange meetings that don’t just optimise schedules, but also optimise location to minimise travel which will come at an increasing cost in future years. Specifically, when people book a meeting, they would be able to specify a LiveMaps coordinate in the ‘Location’ field of the Appointment. One could configure Outlook to default to ‘Desk’ location during work hours, and ‘Home’ location during non-work hours. The ‘Scheduling Assistant’ would then be enhanced to allow parameters which specify to propose meeting times not just ‘when’ parties are free, but also when they are already within an X mile radius of each other. Such an enhancement to Outlook would help to avoid the Long Drives that I recounted last week.