Tuesday, 21 July 2015 10:45

Keeping it Real: Remembering Michele Masterson

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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.

This isn’t anything new. Avaya also holds the same opinion of me, which is probably a holdover from the Nortel acquisition combined with Avaya management musical chairs. I was on Nortel’s “A” list of analysts when I was with Dataquest and In-Stat. The day I went out on my own as independent in 1999 I was immediately relegated to the “B” list. It takes a special kind of company to think outside the box, as it were, when it comes to contact center industry analysts. My 16 years of business as an independent analyst have made it painfully clear that there are still many contact center vendors that lack that ability.


As I was nursing my slightly bruised analyst ego I was violently jolted back into reality when news reached me of the sudden passing of Michele Masterson. Michele was an editor at Speech Technology Magazine and someone with whom I spoke many times regarding trends and issues in speech and related technologies in the contact center industry. I liked her style. She had the ability to cut through the crap and market-speak of many companies and get to the heart of the matter when it came to technology developments and marketing gymnastics. Michele knew how to keep it real.


While we spoke on the phone many times since she joined Information Today in 2011, we never actually met until last month. We were both among a handful of analysts and members of the international industry press that were invited to Verint’s customer event, Engage, in Las Vegas. I regret not spending more time with her then but with over 1,200 people in attendance at the event we had little free time to chat. We did, however, connect afterward by e-mail.


The week after Engage we both went to the Contact Center Week event in Las Vegas. Comparing notes both before and after the event made it clear that Michele and I both viewed the industry and its events through similar lenses. With her critical eye and balanced skepticism, Michele would have made a good industry analyst. She definitely wouldn’t have been mainstream and I probably would have had some company on the “B” list.


Michele passed away unexpectedly on July 10th. I saw an e-mail she sent from her hospital bed on July 7th that led me to believe that she was recovering but it was not to be. She left us way too soon.


The contact center industry is richer for having Michele’s contributions over the years, and now poorer in her loss. Michele did me one last favor when she passed away by reminding me of what’s truly important in this life, and it’s not analyst briefings. Thanks for helping me keep it real, Michele.


Michele was an animal rights advocate and supporter. Those who wish to remember her are asked to make a donation to The Humane Society of her hometown, Savannah, GA (www.humanesocietysav.org).

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