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Proactive Out-of-the-office E-mail Manager

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000028233D
Original Publication Date: 2004-May-05
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-May-05
Document File: 2 page(s) / 64K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is software for proactively managing out-of-the-office e-mail contacts. Traditional e-mail systems automatically notify senders that the recipient is out-of-the-office up to several hours after the e-mail has been sent. Upon such notification, the sender will often need to spend more time to readdress and resend the e-mail to an alternate person. Where timely communications are required, the traditional system is not effective.

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Proactive Out-of-the-office E-mail Manager

Disclosed is software for proactively managing out-of-the-office e-mail contacts. Traditional e-mail systems automatically notify senders that the recipient is out-of-the-office up to several hours after the e-mail has been sent. Upon such notification, the sender will often need to spend more time to readdress and resend the e-mail to an alternate person. Where timely communications are required, the traditional system is not effective.

When a user is going to be out-of-the-office (OOTO hereafter), he may enable an OOTO e-mail agent. The user must configure the agent to run during specific times and/or dates. Additionally, the user can configure which senders the agent should reply to and input custom text for the agent to deliver. An example of custom text is a name and phone number of a person that people can contact in an emergency. Subject to the OOTO agent configuration, the agent will automatically reply to the sender that the recipient is OOTO. Such a reply will clearly state to the sender the recipient's OOTO start and end dates plus any custom text.

Some popular e-mail systems employ a Name and Address Book (NAB hereafter) or similar functionality. The NAB stores many fields for each e-mail user known to the e-mail system. For example, the NAB may store a user's first and last name, their phone number, their external e-mail address, and their internal e-mail short and long name. Some NABs permit name resolution. For example, a user is using an e-mail client connected to a NAB. In the e-mail's "TO:" field, the user types "jdoe,". When the comma key is pressed, a NAB request is sent. The NAB locates this short name and resolves it to an address suitable for delivery. For example, "jdoe," is replaced with "JohnDoe@xyz.com".

Using similar logic to NAB name resolution, the NAB could determine whether the user was OOTO. For example, in addition to the fields in the NAB noted above, the following OOTO fields could be added: start date/time, end date/time, backup name, backup e-mail, backup phone, manager name, manager e-mail, manager phone, comments. When the NAB performs a lookup for name resolution, it would check to see if OOTO dates exist for that recipient. If they do, and the current date falls within the range, it prompts the sender with an OOTO dialog or otherwise indicates that the recipient is OOTO. Additionally, the...