Clarizen integrates “the biggest social network on the planet” into project management

More than 294 billion emails are sent every single day. And if Avinoam Nowogrodski has his way, that will continue for a long time to come.

Many of us hate email. Articles abound on the “disease” of email. Entire technologies, such as Google Wave, were invented to try to kill email. And all, to date, have utterly and impressively failed.

Nowogrodski (try saying that three times quickly) is the chief executive of Clarizen, the cloud-based project management software provider, and he sees email a little differently. In fact, he’s downright passionate about it. He loves email.

Social and teens

One coffin nail for email that might stick is in the current tween and teen generation, which texts and facebooks but doesn’t really email.

While he recognizes the challenges inherent in email — mentioning that his spouse is unhappy whenever he spends an evening at the computer replying to business associates — he offers three reasons why companies should avoid the mistake of trying to kill email.

“Email is the biggest social network on earth, everyone has an email (which is not true for any other network), and email is accountable.”

Instead of trying to kill email, Clarizen is now integrating email into the essential processes and projects of a company. And while many lightweight project management tools, such as Wrike and Asana, allow you to create tasks by email, or even live in your outbox, Clarizen’s goal is to connect all the unstructured information in the correct context of the right processes.

“There is the analogy of a funnel,” he says. “The social graph is creating conversations, and some of those conversations become activities. From them you can create a shared todo list, but some of those activities become company deliverables … such as budgets, ROI calculations, and business intelligence data.”

So Nowogrodski and his team are reinventing how companies like FritoLay, Marketo, NBC — and even NASA — are using email.

Most project management or internal social network solutions deal with either social and unstructured data (think Yammer) or projects and structured data (think any project management system you’ve ever used).

Clarizen’s goal is to connect the two.

The team started with email and projects, and is rolling up social via APIs and an app store-like marketplace: find what you want, such as a SalesForce.com bridge, and plug it in.

It’s a big vision, which is part of the reason Clarizen has created a plugin architecture with plug-and-play apps. Already, users can create projects automatically in SalesForce via email, with target companies and automated management reports to various parts of the company including sales, production, and more.

But there’s much more to come. When a company’s project/knowledge management system automatically see emails flowing and assigns them to projects as appropriate, checking off tasks and moving projects forward with a high degree of reliability, he’s know he’s won.

Email, after all, in spite of all its flaws, is a massively scalable messaging system: componentized, reliable, ubiquitous. Nowogrodski’s goal is to harness it to company goals, not to change it.

If he succeeds, he’ll be one of the first.

photo credits: caribb via photopin cc, Stéfan via photopin cc

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