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Identifying actions requiring follow up from email recieved during absence

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000236282D
Publication Date: 2014-Apr-17
Document File: 5 page(s) / 309K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a method, system, and computer program product for identifying tasks associated with email correspondence and prioritizing actions for follow up after a period of absence.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 47% of the total text.

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Identifying actions requiring follow up from email recieved during absence

In a typical office environment, it is common for people to receive large volumes of email messages. Unfortunately, there is no automated or easy way to identify email that is important for the recipient. Filtering by flags or information set by the sender only indicates that the sender deems the matter important or urgent.

This issue is compounded when there are many messages, from multiple senders. Further, if the recipient is absent for a period of time and comes back to many messages it can be difficult to identify messages that are important or need to be dealt with urgently compared to those emails that have been addressed or become irrelevant during their absence.

Currently the only option the recipient has is to review all the emails and follow up manually. In many cases though they will have to follow long threads of conversation in order to understand what is needed, or will waste time responding only to find out the matter is closed.

The sender(s) similarly suffer from this problem. Deadlines may be missed, or opportunities lost. They wish for the recipient to be aware of time-sensitive or important matters and treat them accordingly.

Most email systems provide an out-of-office capability which notifies the sender(s) of their absence and allows the recipient to provide information (optionally) about their absence and return. This capability can potentially decrease the number of emails during the period of absence and it alerts the sender to the fact that the recipient is not available, but it does not resolve the core issues - in that the recipient will still have a lot of emails to be reviewed upon their return and most importantly any tasks required by the senders need to identified and then checked to see if they are still valid.

The benefits of the described method are:


1. asking the sender specific questions to elicit data to use in order to handle the email - rather than just requesting the sender to prioritize their mail (that is, the recipient can prioritize items according to their rules/policies -rather than using the senders priority)

2. focus on the intent of the mail i.e. is their any work/tasks to be completed - and handling the work associated with a request via email rather than just filtering emails

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3. if there is work to be done during the recipient's absence, then trying to find alternative ways of getting it done

4. using multi-phase requests to identify if the task request is still valid - rather than just working off an intial reply that may become invalid after a period of time

5. when the recipient returns (or is expected to) from their absence they will be provided with a set of actions that have been calculated to be most important to follow up on - rather than just a set of emails to review.

The basic steps (see diagram below for more detail) in method are:

Using policies to define how to act upon email...