Email still is the main tool for communication at work. Even with all the ports of social media to the enterprise, email is the core tool.
The are several problems with email that people are trying to solve with social media such as the asynchronous aspect of email and the heavy client on the machine as well as the coolness factor.
However, social media and email for that matter have the wrong object of communication. In the social media world the communication itself is the object. In the business world the “work” is the object of communication. We are not at work to chat with each other. We are there to get stuff done and we use all these things to communicate around the work.
Email has the problem that it is associated with the person not the work. If I were to design email from the ground up then I would focus it around the work unit.
The communication should be associated with the work unit, the PPT, web page, Photoshop file or whatever else you are working on. The communication should be stored in relationship with the work unit not with the person doing/receiving the communication.
Objects of work are usually associated or organized by projects and have a team of people associated. The communication needs to incorporate the team and all the project’s work objects.
How can we design a communication tool that is associated with the context of the work you are doing?