Facebook cofounder unveils collaboration software

One of the founders of giant social network Facebook has unveiled his new project, a web-based collaboration application named Asana.

Two years ago, Dustin Moskovitz and colleague Justin Rosenstein left Facebook to found Asana after spotting an opportunity to improve on current project management and collaboration software.

In a presentation unveiling the Asana product for the first time yesterday, Rosenstein argued that the information repositories companies build to co-ordinate projects and teams, be they wikis, Google Docs or high-cost enterprise collaboration applications, are rarely used by employees on a day-to-day basis.

Instead, staff use low-tech tools such as Notepad or Post-it notes to organise their working lives, and only occasionally update the central repository.“The effect is that you can’t trust the information stored in that centralised repository,” said Rosenstein.

One way Asana addressed this issue, Rosenstein said, was to focus on the responsiveness of the application. “Speed means minimising the latency between someone having a though and the system understanding that thought. We need something that is faster than Notepad if they are going to use this on a day-to-day basis.

The other was to develop a data model underpinning the application that is designed to support multiple views of the same information. “When you look at things like Google Docs, a lot of them are built on data models we’ve had since the 1970s,” Rosenstein said.

Click here to watch the full presentation.

The resulting product will be generally available later this year.

Recent weeks have seen a few significant developments in the so-called ‘enterprise 2.0’ space, in which social networking-like features are applied to business software.

Tibco, a company best known for its application integration middleware, launched tibbr, a Twitter-like tool that allows users to follow not only their colleagues but also alerts from applications and business processes. Meanwhile, Salesforce.com pushed its Facebook-resembling Chatter product further into the mainstream with advertising slots in the US Super Bowl this weekend.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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