Welcoming Xobni to the ring

As the problem of information overload continues to grow in the workplace, we’re seeing more entrants into this space with their own twist.  One example is Seriosity, a recent entrant with a novel concept for the enterprise.  They have created a system of email credits that people use to signify the importance of emails and compel recipients to pay attention.   Multi-player gaming for email!  Today we welcome another entrant to the space as the guys over at Xobni (a Y Combinator company) launched today at TechCrunch40.


Xobni is focused on contact-based organization, analytics and search within email.  They utilize a number of concepts similar to that in a product from Microsoft Research, SNARF, to rank the importance of contacts and provide analytics about your email traffic with each individual.  They also provide threaded views of email conversations, something we also do in both our Inbox views and RelatedView.  Another focus of their product is search, though with indexed search in Outlook 2007 as well as free desktop search tools we’re not sure how important that area is for further independent development.  Overall Xobni looks like an interesting product, sort of a slicker, updated version of Nelson Email Organizer integrated within Outlook to provide some interesting statistics about your email to help you be more efficient.


There are two main differences between our take on the solution to email overload and Xobni’s.  While we share their passion for analytics and organization, more of our focus with ClearContext IMS is on effective ways to process incoming email.  Secondly, their organization capabilities revolve around the contact.  While we do a lot of things based around the contact, a key area of focus for us is relating and viewing information on a complete project basis, encompassing multiple to-dos, appointments, and emails from various contacts.


We’ve also been quite busy with new developments ourselves.


Having worked with thousands of customers over the past few years to help them be more productive in email, we’ve developed our own unique perspective on the best solution for the space.  Like Xobni, our ClearContext IMS Pro product automatically identifies the highest priority contacts and your email relationship with then.  We use that to prioritize incoming email messages, then provide functionality to take action on these messages and keep all of the information organized.   While that is enough for many customers to love the product, we’ve also found that for many people the technology is just part of their whole solution.  Productivity methodology gurus like David Allen (GTD), Michael Linenberger (Total Workday Control), and many others provide a structure for working with email that for many people goes hand-in-hand with the technology to provide a complete solution.


Over the past year, we’ve been working with a number of customers to distill the most high-impact techniques for managing their workday into a streamlined system that can instantly help anyone be more productive and get more done.  We’re excited to show you how simple it can be to stay in control of email when, later in the year, we announce the next release of ClearContext IMS, a complete solution integrating best practices and software automation to help people be more productive and get more done with less stress.  We’re in the midst of beta testing right now and will be expanding the beta group soon, so let us know if you’re interested in an early preview.  It’s exciting to see more awareness building about the magnitude of the information overload in the enterprise, and we’re looking forward to seeing even more innovation in this space.


The ClearContext Team


  1. Very, very interesting work, Brad. I think you’re leading a possible technical revolution around self-management, and the failure of current email tools as the pace of work scales up.
    Thanks very much for the link – much appreciated.

  2. I am happy to hear that the beta is on its way!

  3. Interesting perspective. I am both a user of IMS and of Xobni and frankly I don’t think I would want to live without either of them.
    Contacts is an area for me that IMS is serverely limited. I want and need to be able to find information quickly about individuals, not just email. Since Outlook is where they live and not necessarily in my Outlook CONTACTS Xobni gives me a way to get to them.
    Also the search in Xobni is incredible. I am not a user of the “DESKTOP” search programs from google or MS and I am still on the 2003 version of OUTLOOK per corporate directive. For me to do a search in Outlook is painful so I have been using Nelson Email Organizer. Now with Xobni it is integrated and extremely fast.
    In order to make me more productive in my email I need it all in one place. I don’t want to have to launch new programs. I want OUTLOOK to be my trusted source. Integration is key. IMS and Xobni do that for me, they work well together and they compliment each others capabilities.
    When or if IMS does something with Contacts and Search I may go back to a single tool but without that functionality I have to have something more. Additionally, since IMS handles email and projects so well, enhancements to that engine is really what I would like to see… perhaps things like multiple topics for a single piece of email.