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New Tool From Xerox Analyzes Outlook, Helps Improve Your Productivity

Science fiction writers talk about how, in the future, we'll augment our brains with computers. Actually, we're already doing that today: take a look into your copy of Outlook to see pretty much everything you think, do, and who you speak to. That's the inspiration behind a new tool from Xerox that purports to tell you how to increase your productivity by evaluating your own Outlook data.

Business of your Brain analyzes your Outlook profile -- the e-mails you sent and received, the words you used, who you correspond with, and even the meetings you attend -- and lets you surf through the data in a friendly and visually engaging way.

There are four displays: Activity, People, Events, and Vocabulary. On the Activities page, you can see how many mails you receive per day and what the volume of mail was on an hourly basis. Yes, Xobni does more or less the same thing, but Brain of Your Business takes the data to a whole new level with a visual presentation that makes you want to drill deeper into the data. You also learn how many mails were marked urgent and what percentage were horrifically long (such as over 300 words).

On the people front, Business of yor Brain displays a tag cloud showing you, among other things, who among your correspondents were the most ignored, who wrote the shortest messages, and who was the "quickest to panic" with the largest percentage of urgent mails.

The events page summarizes your meetings -- like the e-mail activities -- with data like the density of meetings in your schedule and less obvious details like which ones were recurring and the average number of attendees at each. Snarky text helps put this in perspective -- for example, it's difficult to make meaningful progress in meetings with a lot of attendees.

Finally, the vocab page shows yet another tag cloud, this time rolling p words you commonly included in mail. Some of these will be business clichés, others words you should avoid using in business correspondence (like "LOL.").

I was dubious of Business of your Brain when I began the installation process, but after reviewing its various data views, I've completely changed my tune. It's fun, it's free, and it presents the data trapped in Outlook in new and thoughtful ways. Spend a little time with it, and you can start to see trends in your own business life, and opportunities for improvement.

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