Centre stage with Dave Michels, Principal Analyst, Founder, at TalkingPointz…

Centre stage with Dave Michels, Principal Analyst, Founder, at TalkingPointz…

A topical Q&A with a leading light within the unified communications community.


Born – A resident of Boulder, Colorado.

Studied / Education background – I studied M.S. in Telecommunications, and focused my continued studies of enterprise communications for over 30 years. I have also worked in technology leadership at larger enterprises, start-ups, and channel.

Current role / bio – I am an industry analyst focused on enterprise communications including UC/UCaaS, messaging, video, and contact centre. I have also been known to have a provocative point of view.


Who do you work for and what does your role entail?

I am independent analyst covering enterprise communications. The broader analyst and media tend to report how great things are, but I don't always agree. As a result, some of my colleagues say I am a contrarian, but it's not true - I just prefer non-fiction. But, that's not necessarily negative. I try to fill the role of narrator in the complex and developing story of enterprise communications. For news and events, I offer quick takes on why it's good, bad, or ugly via my media posts, blogs, and monthly newsletter. I do deeper dive analytics on longer term trends via research reports and public white-papers. Technical developments, vendor capabilities, and user requirements provide the ingredients to a compelling story.

What made you choose a career in UC?

The wand chooses the wizard. I made the jump from corporate IT to reseller in the early 2000s with the advent of VoIP. It was the disruptive opportunity that got me hooked. It wasn't about making calls, but the disruptive potential that the new technology would bring - and I've never looked back. The story keeps getting better - we keep changing the tools, but the broader story of connection and collaboration remains unchanged. Though, I've never liked the term UC, nor has the industry ever (or ever will) deliver a unified communications experience. It's an example of what we say being totally different than what we are actually doing - and there's plenty more (customer engagement). It's important to truly understand the drivers, benefits, and costs to things like messaging, video communications, and even voice.

What do you think is required to be successful in the UC industry?

The quick answer is story telling. It's not the best technology or price that wins, it's the story that captures the hearts and minds of our users. For 50 years, this industry has been all about restricting communications. We limited long distance, we locked-up the video equipment and generally frowned on anything that consumed network services. Suddenly, the network is effectively free, and the restrictive industry is grappling with how to drive adoption. After decades of hitting the users over the head for using technology, we are wondering why users won't engage in the new technologies we provide them. We have explained it in the context of a story.

What’s been your biggest work achievement of the last 12 months?

I’m just a passenger. I am content when I can keep up with the relentless pace of the industry. A few years ago, I launched my own subscription service which has steadily grown and that's satisfying.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

To remove the coins from your pocket before presenting. Especially in the UK where coins and lifetime savings are conceptually similar. Also, wear sunscreen.

What are your predictions for the UC industry for 2019/20 or beyond?

There are two answers that seem contradictory, but aren't. The first is nothing will be different, and the other is everything will be different. This has been and will continue to be true. For example, the IP phone today has virtually nothing in common with the analog phone of yesteryear, but they are really the same thing. Communications are as basic and instinctual as it gets. Babies learn it on their own. What the UC industry is, extends this basic function to situations where it was previously impossible. First it was voice, then we expanded into wireless, asynchronous messaging, and now video. We may move from toll-free telephones to Apple Chat, but the broader story remains the same.

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