'

Everyone wants to reinvent email, workflow: Here's what we really need

The fatal flaw for the latest round of technology to help us collaborate and communicate: We don't need technology to help us communicate. We need to be taught how to communicate.

In recent weeks, email and other collaboration and workflow tools are being re-imagined with new interfaces, social components, integrated video conferencing and easy swipes to dismiss messages.

To wit:

  • IBM launched  its Verse effort with a snazzy interface that combines, social, email, analytics and mobile nicely.
  • Google floated Inbox , an app designed to help you manage your email better. For the most part, it's effective.
  • Cisco's Project Squared is an app that runs on its collaboration cloud and integrates video conferencing, messaging and other tools.
  • Facebook is pondering Facebook at Work with a news feed and doc sharing.

We could go on, but the list of tech vendors trying to deliver a workflow leapfrog is long. And we're not even counting efforts by Workday, Salesforce and others to include collaboration with core business functions.

Here's where all these efforts fall flat: These products are all pitched as magic bullets to simplify your work life, but in reality are just another item to sell or keep current customers in the fold. Another reality: These applications are trying to tackle human issues with collaboration and communications. Tech isn't going to fix those communication quirks or cure humans' need to try and keep up.

We don't need another tool. We need less of them. We don't need another app to aggregate tech functions. We need to simplify tech functions starting with a bunch of check boxes marked delete. We don't need technology to help us communicate. We need to be taught how to communicate. And we sure don't need more messaging. We need to turn our damn phones off so maybe we can really get some work done or look up and actually talk.

Here's a humble suggestion from someone who could be construed as the grumpy guy on the road to tech nirvana: Let's hold press conferences and demos of all the products vendors are going to kill right away. Then we can hold a service for these former magic bullet applications of yesteryear and maybe meditate for a few minutes before the next 400 messages (two of them actually important and actionable) arrive.

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. As a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the US.

Previously on Monday Morning Opener