Saddletree Research Blog

Saddletree Research Blog

Thursday, 06 June 2019 16:26

Getting Comfortable at SNUG 2019

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This year I received an unexpected invitation to attend the 18th annual Select Noble Users Group, or SNUG, from April 24th through April 26th. The location for Noble Systems’ SNUG 2019 was the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Having never before attended SNUG or, frankly, interacting with anyone from Noble Systems in the past, I was intrigued and curious to learn more about the company and meet some of its customers. I accepted the invitation.

I first discovered things were going to be different for me as independent analyst courtesy of Nortel. In early 1999, when I was still the communications Group Director at Cahners In-Stat Group in Scottsdale, I was attending Nortel’s annual analyst conference in Canada and was invited to sit at the CEO’s table for breakfast on the final day. What I remember most about that breakfast conversation was listening to the CEO as he talked first about his collection of Corvettes and then, about how nervous his daughter was because she was getting married soon and Martha Stewart would be attending the wedding.

Thursday, 29 March 2018 08:44

Taxing the Bots?

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This month I received an unsolicited e-mail press release from the University of Surrey in the U.K. The press release was promoting an event at the University in which a professor will discuss artificial intelligence (AI) and the challenges AI presents to current law.  Lawyers at the University of Surrey are proposing the creation of a “robot tax” that taxes the use of robotic labor the same way governments collect taxes from human workers. They argue that without such a law, companies are essentially encouraged to automate, which will reduce tax revenues and reduce the number of people gainfully employed.

In November of 2016, voters in Arizona approved Proposition 206 to boost the state’s minimum wage and require employers to provide paid sick time.  Called the Healthy Working Family Initiative, the proposition calls for the minimum wage to gradually grow from the minimum wage in 2016 to $12 per hour by 2020.  In addition, employers with fewer than 15 employees must provide each employee 24 hours of paid sick time each year.  Employers with 15 or more employees must provide each employee 40 hours of paid sick time each year.

I have to admit I was thrown for a bit of a loop when I got the news that Jim Demarest had passed away on Thursday, June 22nd.  Jim was an analyst relations (AR) guy for Nortel for many years, then for Avaya after they acquired what was left of Nortel in 2009.  It’s not like Jim and I were great friends or anything like that, more like business acquaintances.  But I always considered Jim to be one of the good guys in an industry vendor community that isn’t populated with as many really decent people as you might expect. 

I wasn’t invited.


Enghouse Systems is hosting an analyst briefing next month and I wasn’t invited. As it was explained to me, only the top contact center industry analysts were invited to this briefing. I guess after 26 years of serving the industry and with a deep reach into the end-user community through my association with the National Association of Call Centers (NACC) at The University of Southern Mississippi, I’m still on Enghouse’s “B” list of analysts.

Wednesday, 01 July 2015 09:41

Contact Center M&A Activity: About to Heat Up?

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There’s always one tell-tale sign that things are starting to heat up on the mergers and acquisitions front.  I start getting phone calls and e-mails from people at banks and private equity firms looking for free industry information and, usually, information about specific companies in the contact center industry.  The inquiries always come from the same types of people – junior researchers who I’m sure have been told by the senior analysts and bankers to research the market and the companies, and have been given zero budget to do so.  I used to try to courteously tell these junior people that I didn’t work for free any more than they did.  These days I don’t even respond to their inquiries.

I consider myself a bit of an authority on millennials.  I raised two of them so I feel I have the inside track when it comes to understanding the psyche of the millennial generation.  Most of these self-congratulatory assumptions I made about myself and how well I understood millennials were recently confirmed by the results of a study conducted by Aspect in conjunction with Jason Dorsey, who calls himself the Gen Y Guy.

The results of the study were released during the SXSW conference in Austin, TX earlier this month.  As a former resident of Houston and a member of the generation that embraced outlaw, Americana and Texas music, I was familiar with the SXSW event as an alt-country, indie-music sort of affair, which is what it was back in 1987 when SXSW began and I was a carefree, millennial-free graduate student.

My history with legacy Aspect goes back to the earliest days of the company. Jim Carreker, who was the founder of Aspect, had an office directly across the street from Dataquest in San Jose when I worked there from ’89 – ’93. I have followed Aspect as an analyst practically since the company’s inception.

While I have always greatly admired Aspect and the impact it has had on the worldwide contact center industry, the company has also had its share of ups and downs over the years. For example, toward the end of the ‘90s Aspect jumped on the CRM bandwagon and proclaimed itself to be a CRM company. That strategy backfired and Aspect had to go through some gyrations to get back on track.

Monday, 11 November 2013 15:11

Random Thoughts on Veteran’s Day

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In 1987, I was sitting with a career counselor in the student services office at Santa Clara University, where I had just received my MBA. She was reviewing my resume for me as I launched my job search after graduation. In the “Other” section, usually found at the bottom of a printed resume in the prehistoric, days, I had added that I was a veteran of the Vietnam era, honorably discharged after six years of service. The counselor advised me in no uncertain terms to remove any reference to my military service and veteran status from my resume.

This morning I took my truck in for service at the local auto repair shop. I was wearing the “Veteran” ball cap that I usually break out on Armed Forces Day and Veteran’s Day and a young man who I had never seen or met before came up to me, shook my hand and thanked me for my service.

I logged onto e-mail this morning and found an e-mail from my longtime industry friend and colleague, Ryan Hollenbeck, which simply and succinctly thanked me for my service on this Veteran’s Day. Ryan is a senior vice president at Verint and has incredible demands on his time, but he took the time to send me a personal note this morning.