Where We Are Available: Outlook Social Connector

Outlook Social Connector

I caught Steve Clayton’s piece on the beta release of the Outlook Social Connector. I had hoped that it would finally bring about the ‘Where We Are Available’ functionality that I have been championing for years now (‘Where We Are Available’, ‘Make Office Better’, ‘Where We Are Available: TripIt’).

It seems to be more focused on info about people’s ‘background’ than their activity and work – “As you read your e-mail messages, glance down at the new People Pane to see the picture, name, and title of the sender. A rich, aggregated collection of information about the sender is included”.

It does talk about ‘activity’ but this information is more about their communications (like status updates) than their logistics. – “You’ll see rich information about your colleagues’ activity such as profile updates to their MySite, documents and websites they tag, and changes to their personal status message.”)

It is extensible through an ‘open’ SDK – “The OSC in Outlook 2010 will connect by default to the new social networking experiences in SharePoint 2010. We are happy to announce that connectivity to any network, including SharePoint, is built using our public ‘provider’ extensibility platform”).

And the site LinkedIn has already exploited that interop capability – “The LinkedIn team has built a provider for the OSC using our public SDK, providing you with pictures and activity information for your colleagues directly from their network.”

Ideally, the SDK and LinkedIn work could go that one step further to an integration between TripIt and Outlook Calendar.

Where We Are Available: TripIt


The ‘TripIt’ tool has taken off in the past year as a tool to publish and share one’s calendar which does starts to set the foundation for ‘where we are available’ collaboration (‘Where We Are Available’, ‘Make Office Better’). It does require a manual process of checking out the TripIt alerts of connections to see if they are relevant or intersecting with your own plans. The ideal solution will be an alert that hits you when a connection and you are going to be within X miles of each other for a period of at least Y hours.

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Transport Hitting Shrinking Household Budgets

Consumer Spending Changes

It’s not just the businesses that pay a price for commuting with their extended carbon footprint, lost hours and energy for staff, exposure to disruption from travel delays, etc. But, obviously, the workers pay a huge price. It’s not just the idle time spent time sitting on carbon monoxide filled tarmac. But the very financial costs of ‘Transportation’ is now both the fastest growing part of the household budget and the second biggest behind only ‘Housing’. The graph above comes from the Alltop post “Consumer spending changes over 100 years” (thanks again Hugh)


Accenture Vodafone Carbon Connections 1

Accenture and Vodafone collaborated on a report titled ‘Carbon Connections’ which looked at a range of business strategies for carbon reduction. Given Vodafone’s mobility focus, the report naturally centred on a number of distributed and remote working scenarios…

  • Dematerialisation – replacing physical goods, processes or travel with ‘virtual’ alternatives, such as video-conferencing or e-commerce (online shopping):
  • Mobile telepresence – connecting ‘virtual meeting rooms’ to mobile devices would allow workers to join conferences from anywhere
  • Virtual office – using wireless telecommunications products means people can work remotely or from home
  • Mobile delivery notifications for e-commerce – businesses can use mobile communications to contact customers for more efficient order placement and delivery.

The last three are pretty conventional and the report has lots of good material on these topics. But what really caught my fancy was the concept dubbed ‘dematerialisation’. What a great poly-syllabic buzzword for the ‘anti-neutron bomb’ approach to downsizing.

Accenture Vodafone Carbon Connections 2