My 2015

by Dave Michels

It’s that time of year again for reflections and evaluations.

2015 was an interesting year because the conversation about enterprise communciations (finally) changed – or at least started to change.

It was a bit overdue. The rise of VoiP, UC, and UCaaS were all a blur with overlapping timelines and value propositions. I was getting bored with “you can now make a work call from a smartphone,” extolling the benefits of working from home or the benefits of SIP, and using conferencing as a synonym for collaboration. These are all important topics, but they were getting long in the tooth.

Note: Long in the tooth is such an odd expression that I finally looked up. It has do with the fact that some horse teeth don’t stop growing, so a horse that is ‘long in the tooth’ is ready for glue.

The herd of UC value props are breaking into new splinter groups. One offshoot represents those that are getting serious about messaging. I don’t consider Slack a UC company, but I do think they stumbled on something important regarding asynchronous communications. A big part of UC vs. voice was the notion of instant messaging (IM) which is async but near real-time. IM was important to both users and the industry. Users liked it, and the industry finally had something cool again. Enterprise comms and cool are not that common – there’s been a few with sizzle such as unified messaging and in fact voicemail before that, touch-tone dialing, FAX machines, various forms of trophy endpoints, and … well that’s all I can think of. SIP wasn’t cool – if you did SIP right no one noticed. IM was so cool that it turned telephony into UC – circa 2005.

IM was a good run, and it will continue for many more years. But IM limitations created an opportunity for enterprise messaging. It’s a similar concept, but with improvements around groups, persistence, APIs, and search. The mobile consumer world figured this out first with WhatsApp and other messaging apps. Cisco ended 2014 with Project Square. In March, at Enterprise Connect Cisco launched Spark and Interactive unveiled PureCloud – we were also featuring Redbooth in the Innovation Showcase. Soon after that Fuze bought Live Minutes. There were announcements around messaging throughout 2015, though some were incomplete (O365 Groups, BroadSoft Project Tempo). Atlassian (HipChat) had a very successful IPO. There were also several messaging-related acquisitions such as RingCentral/Glip, Amazon/Biba, and TPN/Fuze. Messaging is going so mainstream that Slack even did a television commercial.

Zeus and I teamed up on research, and we dubbed the space WorkStream Communications and Collaboration (WCC). WCC is the combination of asynchronous and real-time communications (Slack doesn’t qualify- yet), and I believe WCC is the most significant development in enterprise communications in decades. For clarity, I am referring to applications such as Cisco Spark, Interactive PureCloud, RingCentral + Glip, Redbooth + many, and Unify Circuit  – expect many more.

Two other major transitions started in 2015. Cloud became a when not an if. Specifically, the prem vs. cloud debate shifted to cloud today vs. cloud tomorrow. In 2014, Cisco and Microsoft were both pushing premises-based solutions as their primary strategies. Today, they are both cloud-first – at least in terms of vision. The cloud somehow became tangible [sic] in 2015. Anybody could be a cloud provider in 2014, but the rules changed and in 2015 the gap between the leaders and also-rans significantly widened. 2015 is the year that people realized that the difference between UC and UCaaS is much more than delivery model (SLAs, portals, customer service, etc.).

The cloud suddenly matured. 8×8 announced some big wins. BroadSoft got much more serious. Cisco, Microsoft, ShoreTel, Interactive, and NEC all launched totally new approaches to UCaaS. What’s particularly fascinating to me is the UC conversation that I mentioned above more or less stopped. None of the vendors are touting making calls from a smartphone any more. For example, Mitel is talking about next-gen mobility; Cisco is talking about Messaging; Avaya is about engagement, Microsoft is talking about a very O365 cloud, and BroadSoft and Unify are talking about a new way to work. This acceptance that the cloud changes everything isn’t just within UC either. Look around the enterprise: Salesforce, Zoom, Twilio, Slack – the list goes on. At home it’s the same thing and evidently Christmas 2015 was shipped by Amazon. A tell-tale sign of denial is a purchase order for software. Prem systems still make sense in multiple situations, but the winds shifted – climate change is upon us.

One more noteworthy transition that seemed to start in 2015 (overlaps a bit), is the contact center. Anyone notice that Microsoft’s Zig did a keynote at an Aspect event? 8×8, Mitel, ShoreTel, and West have all made contact center acquisitions. Other vendors are still shopping. Why? Because for the first time ever, the advanced contact center (as a service) is becoming cost effective for any size organization. Additionally, the contact center sits at the intersection of several important trends including cloud, mobility, WebRTC, Work from home, extensibility, and IoT.

2015 was a big year, or as I prefer to say  – less dull than most.

The Year in Numbers

In 2015 I attended 11 major conferences. Down from 16 last year by design. I got more selective and diverse in the events I attended. It was the first time I attended DiData and ATT and both were great events. I think the solution integrators are going to be the big winners regarding some of the changes I described above. Three of my 2015 events were in international locations. Actually conflicts kept the list shorter than I wanted. I still haven’t been able to make Huawei’s event due to conflicts. I also regrettably missed NEC’s event. I was registered for Microsoft’s big Chicago event, but opted to attend it remotely (that was a mistake). As much as a love remote work, I do find these events valuable – largely due to the conversations between he sessions. It concerns me that the pure-cloud providers don’t host events.

 2015 Event Lineup
  • Avaya Partner Forum
  • AT&T Analyst Conference
  • Alcatel Lucent Enterprise AR Conference
  • BroadSoft Connections
  • Enterprise Connect 2015
  • Mitel AR Event
  • ShoreTel Champions
  • UC Summit
  • DiData Perspectives
  • Cisco Collaboration Summit
  • Interactive Perspectives


It’s hard to count all of the writing, but here’s the big buckets:

  • 84 posts on TalkingPointz by me
  • 27 posts on NoJitter
  • UCStrategies got 12 posts and 22 podcasts. – UCStrategies will be changing significantly in 2016 – stay tuned.

I would also like to recognize and thank Colin for 97 posts on TalkingPointz in 2015. Colin has been an inspiration, and he has a unique perspective on communications from old Bell Labs to AT&T. I’ve opened TalkingPointz to other contributors. Sandra Gustavsen started posting in October, and quickly built a strong audience. I expect more writers will join in 2016, so I’m implementing site changes to make it more friendly for multiple-authors. The site fills a niche as a commercial-free, multi-author opinion and analysis site in enterprise communications.

This year I introduced TalkingPointz 2Pagers – my interpretation of freemium industry research. I feel the traditional research model for subscription-based services is getting long in the tooth. I published 11 2Pagers in 2015. My goal was one a month, and since I didn’t finalize the concept until March – goal exceeded. TalkingPointz 2Pagers  are intended to be more durable and more in-depth than a blog post (excluding this post). 2Pagers are reasonably useful by themselves, and of course additional information, opinion, and insight is available – inquire within.

I welcome feedback on the 2Pagers – drop me a line (or 2).

2Pager downloads are steadily increasing. The Spark/SfB 2Pager was the most popular, and it’s not even a month old yet. .


Twitter is my primary social tool. I ended the year with 11,648 followers. I have no idea how many times I tweeted in 2015, so I will log here that I am starting 2016 at 24,586 tweets.

I don’t do much on LinkedIn or Facebook, but I post links to TalkingPointz there. I am told that I am missing things by not being on those other sites. I even heard a new Star Wars movie came out – incredible. Perhaps I will log in a few times in 2016.


I want to thank you, the reader, for viewing this site and I wish you a happy and healthy new year. I know you have a choice in where you consume your content, so I appreciate your lack of discretion.

There is nothing more important to a blog than readers, so thank you.

RelatedMy 2014  My 2013