14 May 2013

Cisco the Innovator vs Microsoft the Strategist

In 2000, Cisco entered the communications marketplace by marketing the hell out of something new, VoIP.  Legacy vendors were caught wholly off guard with immature products they’d planned on strengthening and releasing at leisurely pace.  Cisco upended that strategy sending Alcatel, Avaya and Rolm scrambling. The result being that customers were shown a lot of famously bad and short-lived products in the first few years of this new century.

Yes, the first releases of CallManager were feature poor and fantastically, famously buggy, but VoIP was real innovation and Cisco capitalized on the technology’s promise. As an innovator and teacher Cisco thrived, eventually becoming #1 (although to be fair, it took years longer than Mr. Chambers expected).  

We’re in the second decade of VoIP, nearing a decade of enterprise chat and presence, and bringing up the rear, SIP and video are approaching their own half-decade marks.  But the market is inexplicably swooning over Microsoft Lync, a largely partner-driven “good enough” PBX with a huge installed base of Microsoft Office and LCS/OCS users. Where’s the innovation? Where’s the “new.”

I also attended the Microsoft “Living with Lync” session at Enterprise Connect like NoJitter’s Kevin Kieller who took Twitter umbrage at my being far less bedazzled.  To borrow from the withering Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, PBX consolidation, least cost routing, SIP trunking:  Groundbreaking.” (In fact Microsoft’s banging on about such meat-and-potatoes features is, to me, tacit admission of deficit.)

I simply don’t get excited by reference customers who standup and shout, “it works” with the subliminal message being uniqueness.  It’s also worth noting that I’m similarly unimpressed with ovens that get hot or toddlers who walk.  As I opined, doing what it says on the label isn’t cause for celebration.

You could say Lync’s only true “innovation” has been their use of their former partners (current competitors) to implant LCS/OCS “eggs” that are now hatching to consume voice systems from the inside.  But that’s not innovation, that’s strategy.  And so far, that’s been enough.

Just so we’re clear: 
  • Will Lync voice continue to grow quickly? Yes, there’s a lot of low-hanging Microsoft fruit.
  • Are competitors, crippled by economic forces and bad management, boosting Lync?  Yes, just as a flush Cisco benefitted from the telecom meltdown in the early 2000s.
  • Will Microsoft Lync be a dominate player for the next decade?  Yes, but an unseen competitor will challenge them eventually too.
  • Has any of Lync voice’s success been the result of any real innovation?  No, not yet.

So by all means celebrate their growth and strategy. But you won’t see me excited by reference customers doing, as Stephan King wrote “SSDD.”

30 April 2013

Auto-Update = Auto-Outage

There are two kinds of clouds; multi-tenant and multi-instance.  The first has multiple partitioned businesses operating within the same application instance while the second essentially moves premises equipment offsite either in a company-owned or 3rd-party data center.  Salesforce.com and Microsoft Office 365 are multi-tenant while Cisco HCS and Interactive Intelligence are multi-instance.

One of the key messages from cloud suppliers is the speed and automation of application upgrades.  The dirge goes that customers who still have Lucent’s red coffee stain logo on their phones really, really want upgrades if only they weren’t so darn hard and costly. Enter the cloud to whisk away their problems without IT lifting a finger.

And chaos ensues.

If you use a smartphone, you have an inkling of the problem.  Does a week pass without application update notices? No. What do you do? Either lazily set yourself for auto-update or manually update when the screen notices get too annoying.  In the smartphone world this is mostly OK because individual apps don’t really interact with each other – Robot Unicorn Attack and Virtual Dentist don’t share data. The exception being when there’s an operating system update. Some apps crash because their developers didn’t build the connection in time.  When this happens, users lose functionality until it gets fixed.

Version Control is Important for Business Continuity

Communications applications already touch and share data with many applications from differing vendors; a number that grows daily.  What happens when an application update breaks the data-sharing bridge?  It stops working.  Businesses using multi-tenant cloud services have less control when it comes to updates. As the marketing spiel goes, it just happens, automatically.  If a business has a home-grown application tied into a cloud service, they’re begging for a major outage.

Those using multi-instance applications, whether public or private cloud, have more control as to when updates are rolled out. Their applications are essentially islands offering complete control.  Businesses need to test ecosystem interoperability before releasing updates into the wild.

Uncontrolled Mobility

Mobile communications applications further increase the risk.  If you want Cisco Jabber, WebEx or Avaya Flare, you visit the Apple or Android stores, not the vendor or IT.  If there’s an update, it comes from Apple, not corporate IT.  Cisco tried to deal with this with Cius (RIP) by allowing customers to setup their own private app store that was controlled by IT. Cisco could do that because it owned the hardware, operating system and application portal.  But with increasing numbers of users providing their own personal device for business use, that control is largely gone.

Consider this your canary in the cloud mine.

11 March 2013

Your Guide to Enterprise Connect

As we get ready for Enterprise Connect it’s important to remember you’ll see nothing revolutionary, nothing breathtaking and certainly nothing you can’t live without. You’ll see the tiny steps of evolution (or God’s infinite hand, if “evolve” is a problem).  Even the Gaylord Palms has evolved since VoiceCom began its unmoving settlement with updated pools and new sushi and sports bars all while maintaining their infamously awful internet connectivity.

Here’s a smattering of what visitors will see and dilettantes will miss.

Marketing Hyperbole
Every trade show it’s the same , hundreds of manufacturers screaming “pick me.”  Here are a few of my favourites.

Any, Any, Any
The latest evolution masquerading as revolution is the word “any.”  The slide below is from the year 2000 and mentions “any” seven times on the slide.  One wouldn’t think you could get any more “any” than that, but here we are 13 years later hailing BYOD and social media as revolutionary when they’re just another “any.”  The only surprise on this slide is recalling that Aspect was once considered the “Starting Point” of “any” thing.


Solutions, Solutions, Solutions
Consider that all manufacturers make silos and that for decades have been telling the market (and themselves) they’ve evolved into a holistic, customer-embracing “solution” fount.  It’s always been a smokescreen.  Makers care about interconnectivity as long as it cuts out competitors, generates revenue and doesn’t eat into profits. Need an antique command-line driven application connected?  Cha-ching to the professional services team.  But don’t feel used, customers use makers in much the same way.  

Microsoft Lync is a silo that connects to other Microsoft silos like Office, SharePoint and Exchange. It doesn’t connect to applications it deems competitive like salesforce.com.  Ditto for Avaya, Cisco and every other supplier an organization has. Do you really believe a unicorn makes Cisco networking gear uniquely suited for Communications Manager? No, Cisco is just less interested in your business without the pull-through of the rest of the high-margin kingdom. 

To go completely off-topic, I’m loving seeing Cisco and Microsoft go at it.  Both have spent decades building their cults of certified followers and now finally the Narnian battle is ready to begin.  Which will prevail only to be crushed by the next big thing in 10 years? If Cisco helped cripple Nortel, is Microsoft helping to cripple Avaya?

Savings, Savings, Savings
Every salesperson in every booth at every trade show shouts how much money you’ll save if you buy their solution/silo. And while salespeople selling savings are as old as time (which depending on your intelligence is either 6,000 years or a few billion) it’s usually only true under very few, and sometimes scientifically controlled, circumstances. That said, if you’re employing legions of uniformed messengers to hand-deliver written notes between your staff, chances are instant messaging will save you a few dollars on salaries and shoe leather over time.

Selling Your Soul for a Chance to win an iPad (mini)
I suspect there are more fishbowls with business cards and Hershey’s kisses in them than fish.  Exhibitors too cheap to purchase a badge scanner usually resort to the “fishbowl lottery” to win some piece of hot tech.  Attendees must decide whether the resulting unending phone solicitations are worth the chance to win.  My advice is to buy a bag of M&Ms and avoid the fishbowl.

But it is worthwhile to keep track of the prizes.  Do you really want to do business with someone who can only muster a Kindle Paperwhite versus a Kindle Fire HD or an iPod nano versus an iPad?  No, I didn’t think so. (Hard candy versus chocolate goes without saying)

And finally…

 Join a Keynote Betting Pool
Be sure to attend the keynotes.  If Enterprise Connect would just move to Las Vegas, we could legally bet on which keynoter will get fired or quit in the coming year! As it is, you’ll just have to bet among your friends.


19 July 2012

The Post-Tablet Era

We’ve all read the “Post-PC” hyperbole du jour being spouted by various pundits that purports to say that the ball-and-chain of the PC will be replaced by myriad task-based mobile devices resulting in the explosive over-connection of users. 

There are several problems with this “Tastes Great; Less Filling” ploy.

To date, every mobile device uses advertising-driven operating systems from Apple or Google (OK, the popular ones).  Their raison d’ĂȘtre is fine tuning the delivery of evermore targeted ads at users, which in turn generate revenue for Apple, Google and app developers.  Because of this primary motive, advertising-driven operating systems are at odds with delivering productivity because, like phone sex services, they make money based on time spent, not efficiency.

In addition, several recent studies have shown that click-through rates for online advertising are considerably less than dusty old direct mail (better known as junk mail). Advertising may turn out to be a game of diminishing returns.  The more bombarded, the more inured we become to their effects; another boy too often crying “wolf.”  I’m not here to fix advertising, but I do wonder about the long-term fate of operating systems and apps whose revenue is derived from fostering it.

The other problem with proclaiming the post-PC world is that currently there’s nothing to replace it.  Sheer computing power and size considerations aside, mobile operating systems do not offer a platform capable of running the same richness of applications as a PC.  Tablets offer snippets of larger data sets and limited tools for interacting with it (after all, most apps are tidbits of data teased into a specialized data container for those too lazy to type a URL).

We are also in a period of device explosion or as the Italians say, throwing pasta (or “shit” if you’re in sales) against a wall to see what sticks.  In the developed world, people average three-point-something internet-connected devices and that will double in less than five years.  Device proliferation can partly be blamed for the rise of gargantuan purses, non-sporting backpacks, and the dreaded “murse.”  Even an IT geek’s cargo shorts have limits. 

It’s safe to say the ultimate winner won’t be the maker of the most device types, but rather the maker with the fewest devices required for the highest level of productivity. For this reason, it’s even safer to say that the PC isn’t going anywhere, at least for a while. 

Today’s mobile devices are a tight balance between processing and ergonomics, a battle fought by laptops years ago.  The other wrinkle is the desire to intertwine computing with communications, both with their own ergonomic needs.  As processing dynamics improve, today’s ad-driven, immature tablets will die a relatively quick death like mobile phone bricks.

For example, I got my first laptop in 1990. For sixteen years I owned both a desktop and a laptop before dropping the desktop PC for a lone laptop six years ago.  I got my first tablet nearly two years ago and never imagined it becoming my primary computer.  After getting a Windows 8 test-tablet a month ago, I guarantee it will not be sixteen years before I drop the laptop for a tablet-like device.  Speed, storage and screen size and resolution will be the key deciding factors, all of which will improve relatively quickly.

You may be thinking I’ve just negated my premise about the “post-PC era” but I haven’t.  Windows 8 extends the PC era in the same way laptops extended desktops. 

Microsoft Windows is the traditional (and bloated) operating system that’s slimmed down and become touch-sensitive in version 8.  Users can enjoy their apps and “real” PC applications without visiting the ad-driven whorehouses of Apple and Google.

Windows 8 marries the mobile with the stationary, most notably running the Office Suite on either device; a first for a (presumably) mass-produced tablet.  It turns today’s plaything tablet into a new PC form factor (FYI, the most downloaded Apple app is an Office emulator).  For Apple to compete, the extra step of the iTunes interface must go away.  Apple will have to also merge its PC and mobile operating systems to create a merged experience. 

Ease of use is an oft sited hallmark of Apple iPhone/iPad and to a lesser extent Google.  While Microsoft’s traditional operating system may not be termed user-friendly, it is engrained into the computer literate public.  Unlike Apple’s intuitive tiles, Microsoft’s usability comes from sheer repetition.  For those seeking a more tile-friendly and colorful world, there’s the Microsoft’s Metro interface. Personally it seems a little remedial to me.

Touching on Android, it’s an illustration of too many cooks spoiling the soup.  Versions have been flying out at such a pace that developers haven’t caught up.  Most smartphones run Android 2.3 while tablets are on 4.0, unless you have a tablet that was stranded on the 3.0 version.  Backing this up are Avaya and Cisco whose first iterations of tablets (Cius and Flare) were Android-based.  Both have been largely abandoned in favor of iPad.

Finally, Windows 8 tablets have standard USB plugs!  Nearly every technology reviewer has lamented about how Steve Jobs’ plug phobia resulted in some wonderful, albeit less useful, designs. 

Am I giving the win to Microsoft?  Hardly.  This is just the latest skirmish in the continuing struggle to make computing more effective.    Microsoft has also been known for as many blunders as successes, especially in recent years.  Like Star Trek movies, every other release of Windows seems to be a bomb, with Windows 7 being the latest success; Windows 8 is in a difficult position. 

Microsoft has also made a fundamentally stupid move by not enabling an upgrade from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8. Not only does this strand users, it’s another reminder that you’re not dealing with Apple.  But while Windows 8 is a Hail Mary play that will succeed or fail for Microsoft in 2013, a unified, non ad-driven operating system is the future.

Steve Jobs jumpstarted the tablet form factor, but in merging mobile and stationary operating systems, Microsoft has upped the ante.  Post-PC? No.  A new PC form factor? Yes.

24 February 2012

Electronic Brainstorming: Can Microsoft SharePoint, Cisco Quad and IBM Connections Reclaim Productivity Lost to Collaboration?

The message coming from all communication technologies, be they consumer, business or “bizumer,” is that they increase user productivity and problem-solving by keeping users connected to the larger group (herd).  Unfortunately, scientifically speaking, nothing could be further from the truth.

Behavioral study after study has proven that incessant connectivity robs people of the solitude required to solve problems while delivering the mediocre results of groupthink.  We instinctively know, and the Discovery Channel proves, that the wildebeest that strays from the herd gets eaten.  During meetings and conference calls (real-time) we agree to stupid things for fear of rejection by the group or being stoned by the boss; thus groupthink is born.  (It’s vestigial brain stuff from the stone age and middle school.)

Interestingly, artists, inventors and innovators tend to be loners.  Superman had the Fortress of Solitude, and hell, if you believe Creationist claptrap, God worked alone too.  (Additional insight can be found here, here, here and here)

Anecdotally, we see “Generation Clusterthink.” College students who should be learning to stand on their own calling parents to sort out minutia.  They are more comfortable living with their parents because they never became an individual; apron strings turned to steel.  This is the generation that sacrifices solitary individuality to simultaneously listen, watch and broadcast for fear of being left out.

This all began in the 1950s when an advertising executive (no surprise here) named Alex Osborn created the idea of group brainstorming, believing that groups led to higher quantity and quality of ideas and creativity. The irony being that Osborn was probably alone when he came up with the thought, self-defeating his own premise (but advertising and history never lets truth get in the way). 

Brainwashing on brainstorming persists and has literally been translated into office environments.  In the 1970s the average U.S. worker had 46.5m2 (500 square feet) of working space.  By 2010, that had shrunk by 60% to 18.5m2 (200 square feet) with 70% working in open-plan offices.  The subliminal belief being that proximity bred productivity.  Yes, it saved real estate costs, but remember your first open plan office?  What was said? “We’re tearing down the walls to increase productivity by encouraging group collaboration” (unless you’re an executive).

As anyone who’s ever been in a group knows, they are unproductive, stifle creativity and often deliver a lowest common denominator result.  In-meeting multi-tasking isn’t a sign of being busy, but rather equates to apathy about the topic, feelings of powerlessness, inevitability of outcome and avoidance of boat-rocking. 

Therefore, promoting SharePoint, Quad and IBM Connections Next as productivity tools due to their connected and collaborative properties is a sham. (I have to say IBM Connections Next because no one knows what Connections is – Vulcan, Calgon, whatever)

What these vendors need to do is stop marketing against science.  This application class should be positioned and used to free contributors from the endless banality of the group while enabling them to engage when needed while making the contributions and quantum leaps delivered by uninterrupted, uncompromising, individual problem-solving.

In addition to proving that brainstorming is ineffective, research shows that “electronic brainstorming” can be.  If you strip away the verbal and body language components of communication and depersonalize it, vestigial groupthink triggers weaken.  Extrapolating the concept, groupthink could be mitigated by groups using non-real-time communication (few meetings, fewer calls). 

For Microsoft, Cisco and IBM this means that instead of promoting their applications as “the next level of group collaboration,” they should be promoting these applications for their abilities to unearth the best ideas and most effective work by managing and controlling over-collaboration.

This is not to say that real-time communication is not productive, but it must be deliberate, controlled and measured for productivity to be improved.  In many ways, the realities of group and individual dynamics undermine the arguments for video communications.  The argument for ubiquitous video resurrects AT&T’s “the next best thing to being there” slogan and that may very well be the problem (a proposition Cisco might grit their teeth at). 

18 January 2012

Twitter: What I Didn't do Over the Summer

For those who lack reference, the TeleContrarian Twitter persona is an outgrowth of my “calling bullshit” as a commenter on several blog sites, most notably No Jitter.  When I started my Twitter experiment I devised a pair of questions I hoped to answer:

·    Could Twitter enhance and simplify my personal monitoring of the enterprise comms market?
·    Would anyone want to follow and interact with someone anonymous and snarky (but informed)? In other words, would my “personality” and point of view enhance others’ Twitter goals?

I set myself a goal of a year to find out and slightly overstayed.  Along the way I expanded the Contrarian “brand” by creating this blog.  In doing so, I could also begin to see the “six degrees of separation” brought about by social media (how many of my Twitter followers would re-tweet my blog link and where would readers come from?).  I thought it more interesting than releasing a sex tape (as so many have) and documenting its internet voyage.

Some may wonder why my first goal wasn’t obvious from my non-anonymous Twitter profile.  The answer is that my public profile has become so enmeshed in marketing, promotion and relationship-building that its goals couldn’t be completely separated for this experiment.  And then there’s the ribald personality of TeleContrarian which is not allowed in polite business.

Is Twitter measurably helpful?

I use several methods to monitor the UCOM market including RSS feeds, Google Alerts, push email services, vendor AR/PR and the like.  Could Twitter replace, unify and expand the reach of those services?  Would any additional information posted by my followers enhance my knowledge?

The short answer is “no,” Twitter did not do the job better.  Those articles not part of my traditional monitoring systems, while sometimes interesting, did  not uncover a lodestone of unforeseen knowledge. 

What Twitter did excel at was speed (items posted to Twitter in minutes) and the occasional sound bite of opinion (though usually gleanable by reading the linked document).  So, is the simple speed of knowledge helpful?  Again I say, “no.”  Knowing about Avaya’s IPO or Alcatel-Lucent’s Enterprise yard sale a few hours earlier doesn’t make the information more actionable.  Similarly, experiencing Avaya’s Flare launch live, while exciting, was meaningless. 

Another dimension of Twitter use in business is the fallacy that following opinion and vendor leaders would somehow reveal useful unvarnished thoughts.  Twitter for business is a marketing channel where meaningful thoughts are guarded and usually either enticement or corporate puffery.   Unfortunately candid thoughts limited themselves to the minutia of daily life.  For example, I now find myself requesting hotel rooms Charlie Isaacs hasn’t slept in (harder than you’d imagine!).

This brings me to an unfortunate side-effect of following some, bearing witness to their over sharing.  To the untrained eye, Vanessa Alvarez may appear to be a confident woman swanning her way from jet to beach swaddled in Gucci and shod in Blahnik. I, however, see shallow trappings and self-importance.  I’ve always thought her work lacked depth and now I understand more completely why.  I also more rapidly seek better company at cocktail parties.  Given the private messages sent to me, I am not alone in my opinions, just in expressing them.

The bottom line is that Twitter is helpful for those needing to be breathlessly first (and my public persona needs this perception for many reasons).  It may also help those with a more casual interest stay abreast of the market.

Goal 2: Did this persona help you?

I have no idea.  Certainly over time my following has slowly increased, so I can assume that some of what I said was interesting, useful or at least entertaining.  My primary goal began with a desire to unveil truths obfuscated by corporate marketing or those dependant on it.  To ask the questions others only thought but couldn’t diplomatically ask (including my public persona).  Most have understood that I am not necessarily malicious, just frank with a sprinkle of bitch.

The bitchery may be the most attractive part of TeleContrarian.  In a world of buttoned-down business-speak banality, someone should prick the balloon.  As proof of this, several of my tweets were the result of private messages sent asking me to tweet something the sender couldn’t.

Some have engaged with me on this journey, others ignore my existence.  It has been interesting to have dual “relationships” with most of my followers.  I appreciate the fact that it’s unsettling to interact in an inherently unbalanced relationship and appreciate their mostly jovial participation.  Most funny have been the marketing-drone Twitter accounts who must grit their teeth to answer me.  But a few times I’ve been wrong and have apologized and corrected where I could.

While I expected some bemused speculation about my identity as TeleContrarian grew, some have made the quest their raison d'ĂȘtre, as though unmasking me would finally gain them a seat at the “popular” lunch table. This has been especially amusing when I have been asked if I know who “I” am. But this hunger has also limited my ability when seated near a roving-eyed colleague. For those still playing the game, no, I have never heard anyone correctly speculate on my identity. Jim Croce sang it best, “You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger” because when the mystery is solved, the game is over.  And it’s the game that makes it all worthwhile.

Lessons Learned

People are, and always will be, sheep.  Corporate marketing Twitter accounts often see a story and retweet it again for wider distribution without reading the referenced article.  Because of this, on several occasions I have been retweeted by vendors I’ve been critical of.  I cringe when this happens, but it’s human nature to trust as much as it is to be lazy.  A dangerous combination.

TeleContrarian is addictive.  It’s a wild ride to be clever and have a forum to say what you think.  It’s also self-competitive as I found myself looking for ways to “out do” myself.  This persona has been largely silent since October 2011, and I didn’t miss it.  In fact, I enjoyed the rest.  What started as a vacation became more.  The future will bring a more focused voice with less bitchcraft.

TeleContrarian is a crutch.  While I shed light on some truths, those truths are there for anyone to find.  If you find yourself believing the “increased productivity and reduced spending paradigm of a cloud-based OpEx model” mantra of this week’s marketing campaign, it’s your job to take a step back and evaluate.  Like any religion or belief, if you unchallengingly follow, you can’t complain about view or the destination.

09 August 2011

Social Media: Lip Lock or Lip Service?

Social Media is the latest marketing porn from enterprise communication and contact center vendors designed to titillate users’ pocketbooks.  But unlike other business tools, social media enables us to see if the propagandists are users or insincere shills.  Put another way, should users place faith in the recipes of those who don’t cook?
What got me started was a June 15th Avaya webcast where Jorge Blanco (Product Marketing VP for Contact Center) gave a talk about the need for social media adoption by contact centers. He ended 15 minutes early and took no questions from the audience.  After I Tweeted this, he answered offering to answer any questions I had.  My response:  “@av_jblanco My first question may be why do I have a larger Twitter presence than someone trying to enlist customers into Social Media?”  (Blanco’s total Twitter usage as of that day – 17 Tweets, 63 Followers, 15 Following.)  Not surprisingly, my question went unanswered.  In the meantime Blanco has changed his Twitter handle but stands at a measly 22 Tweets, 62 Followers and 32 Following.  His last Tweet was July 14 and his Tweets are locked.
Before you think this is a Blanco Bash, he is not alone in not practicing what he preaches.  It turns out that social media usage is sporadic among “thought leaders.” But shouldn’t thought leaders by definition be leading, not abstaining? 
Since every other word out of these “guru’s” mouths is Twitter or Facebook, I checked Twitter usage by senior executives, key management and selected analysts within the enterprise communications market as of August 7, 2011. I have concentrated on those vendors with significant contact center portfolios as this appears to be the niche where social media product integration is centered.
 Because every vendor has Twitter accounts run my marketing/advertising/PR departments, I have ignored those.  I have also ignored the product managers and marketers. What I’m measuring is the usage of the tools by those preaching from podiums, webcasts and conference tables.
Alphabetically, I’ll begin with Alcatel-Lucent where we see CEO Ben Verwaayen largely absent from Twitter.  This is a very common occurrence as no CEO has a Twitter presence.  But what Mr. Verwaayen does illustrate perfectly is the “moth to the flame” effect of Twitter. While he has an account, he’s sent one Tweet, Follows two but has 121 Followers. If Twitter can be thought of as a stream of consciousness made of many minds, clearly he offers no value to the “conversation,” yet people cling to him.
Charlie Isaacs, who leads eServices and Social Media, illustrates another Twitter effect.  Mr. Isaacs is a smart guy and great to hang around with but there’s no way he can “Follow” 9,187 people with any cohesion.  I conclude that he has Following sub-lists with the rest being courtesy Follows.  But with 9,178 Tweets, he and his 9,611 Followers, clearly “get” what social media can do for personal enrichment and professional goals.
Global Sales Leader Tom Eggemeier also “gets” Twitter with 934 Tweets but like Mr. Isaacs, gratuitously Follows many people.  But he’s in Sales so we forgive him. J
Most surprising is Paul Segre, EVP and President of the Applications Group which includes the Genesys contact center application.  He has no Twitter account that I can find.  Chief Marketing Officer, Nicolas de Kouchkovsky appears to be new to Twitter but has become a semi-regular Tweeter.

Twitter Handle
Last Tweet
Ben Verwaayen, CEO
Oct 28
Tom Burns, President of ALU Enterprise
August 6
Paul Segre, EVP. President Applications Group

Charlie Isaacs, eServices and Social Media Leader
August 7
Nicolas de Kouchkovsky, Chief Marketing Officier
August 7
Tom Eggemeier, Global Sales Leader
August 2

Aspect Software
Considering contact center is pretty much all Aspect Software does, its Twitter presence is as virtually non-existent as its social media product strategy. Of all the relevant executives, just one has a Twitter account I can find, EVP of Sales Mike Sheridan.  Neither the SVP of Marketing Laurie Cairns (now gone) nor Director of Product Marketing Nancy Dobrozdravic appear on Twitter.  But at least Aspect isn’t hypocritical.

Twitter Handle
Last Tweet
Jim Foy, CEO

Mike Sheridan, SVP Sales
July 26
Michael Regan, SVP Engineering/Technology

Nancy Dobrozdravic, Dir Prod Mktg

Avaya, Inc.
WW Marketing honcho Chris McGugan has an honest set of numbers with over 1,400 Tweets and realistic numbers of “Followers” and “Following.”  Newish Twitterer, Steve Hardy is also trying to make an honest go of it. But as I noted above, Product Marketing VP for contact centers Jorge Blanco appears uninterested in engaging in what he’s telling customers to buy.  Others in the executive team are dabblers.  This inconsistent showing is especially dissonant given Avaya’s release of Social Media Manager for the Nortel Avaya Aura Contact Center.

Twitter Handle
Last Tweet
Kevin Kennedy, CEO

Jorge Blanco, VP Prod Mktg Contact Cntr
July 14
Lawrence Byrd, Dir of UC Architectures
June 21
Chris McGugan, VP, WW Mktg - Contact Cntr
July 22
Steve Hardy, Dir UC Prod Mktg
July 27

Cisco, Inc.
I figured Cisco would be all over social media and they are with Marketing-driven anonymous personas for every type of potential Cisco customer.  However, like other contact center social media solution vendors, their internal Kool-Aid pitcher remains mostly untouched.  CTO Padmasree Warrior is mythical in her numbers of followers.  Unfortunately Cisco’s social media participation by UC and contact center executives is pretty low with Contact Center GM John Hernandez squeaking out just 15 Tweets in 22 months.

Twitter Handle
Last Tweet
John Chambers, CEO

Padmasree Warrior, CTO
July 21
Ross Daniels, Director UC Marketing
July 14
Barry O’Sullivan, SVP Voice Tech. Grp.
August 3
Laurent Philonenko, VP/GM Cust. Contact
August 7
Blair Christie, SVP Corp Communications
July 29
John Hernandez, GM Contact Center
August 4
Michael McNally, VP Software Dev. Contact Center BU
May 22
Alex Romero, Social Media Bus. Analyst
August 7
Lynn Lucas, Sr. Director Collaboration
August 7

Interactive Intelligence
Everyone’s favorite at Interactive, Tim Passios is the only executive I could find using Twitter personally.  CMO Staples and sales leader Blough don’t appear to have accounts.  Unsurprisingly, it’s the Social Media manager who’s knocking it out of the park in participation.  (It’s always the manager layer that’s really doing the work)

Twitter Handle
Last Tweet
Gary Blough, EVP Sales
No Profile Found

Joe Staples, CMO
No Profile Found

Tim Passios, Dir. Solutions Mktg
August 1
Denise Meyer, Social Media Comm. Mgr.
August 4

Siemens Enterprise
Siemens told the world social media was coming so many years ago that the critical integration was to MySpace!  Their product execution mirrors their executive participation.  We see Eve Aretakis, the senior executive for product development who has re-Tweeted someone else’s thoughts in all but 7 of her 59 Tweets.  The relatively new outside CMO hire, Chris Hummel has just 5 Tweets under his belt.  Contact Center Director Don Greco,  on a panel discussion at EnterpriseConnect for social media in contact centers, doesn’t even have an account.  Oh, and who stood on the podium touting integration with MySpace?  Mister 4 Tweets, Mark Straton (who hasn’t Tweeted in nearly two years).  The lone winner is Adrian Brookes who not surprisingly came from Cisco.

Twitter Handle
Last Tweet
Hamid Akhaven, CEO
No Profile Found

Chris Hummel, CMO
Eve Aretakis, EVP Prod Mgmt & Dev.
March 30
Gerald Kromer, EVP/GM Services
July 25
Mark Straton, SVP Marketing
Paul Lang, VP Marketing
July 21
Adrian Brookes VP CTO
August 4
Paul McMillan, Dir. UC
June 21
Don Greco, Director Contact Center
None found

By and large, the analyst community “gets” social media.  They understand that social media used well can generate business but also provide synergistic insights from the communities they maintain.  Obviously there are exceptions. 
Gartner’s UC and Contact Center practices are non-existent with no Twitter account found for Bob Hafner, Steve Blood, Bern Elliot, Drew Kraus and Jay Lassman.  Whether this is a policy or not, the result is the same.  Likewise, old-timers like Marty Parker, Ken Landoline and Jim Burton reflect the aversion of their generation. Their credibility is questionable.  Similarly, I would call out Sheryl Kingstone from Yankee.  She wrote a research report on social media but her own experience is pretty light.  At the other end of the spectrum, we give Vanessa Alvarez our Mavis Beacon award for her stunning 20,968 Tweets!

Twitter Handle
Last Tweet
Brian Riggs, Current Analysis
August 5
Ken Landoline, Current Analysis
Jerry Caron, Current Analysis
No Profile Found

Vanessa Alvarez, Forrester
August 7
Henry Dewing, Forrester
August 2
Rob Arnold, Frost & Sullivan
August 7
Elka Popova, Frost & Sullivan
August 7
Melanie Turek, Frost & Sullivan
March 1
Audrey William, Frost & Sullivan APAC
@ Audrey_William
August 7
Adrian Ho, IDC
August 7
Christine Bardwell, IDC
August 7
Maribel Lopez, Ind.
August 4
Sheila McGee-Smith, Ind.
August 7
Stephanie Watson, MZA
August 7
Ian Jacobs, Ovum
August 7
Blair Pleasant, UC Strategies / CommFusion
August 7
Jim Burton, UC Strategies / CT Link
Marty Parker, UC Strategies / UniComm
No Profile Found

Don Van Doren, UC Strategies / UniComm
May 5
Nancy Jamison, UC Strategies
August 7
Zeus Kerravala, Yankee
July 21
Sheryl Kingstone, Yankee
July 12

And there you have it.  A representative sample of who uses social media and who’s just trying to talk customers into buying  into it.  Given the consumerization of the enterprise, I think it’s more than fair to question vendors' and presenters' use of the tech and toys they’re selling.  In decades past, it was understandable that an analyst or executive didn’t have a PBX running under their desk, but today that’s changing. 
As I have said repeatedly, as an end user exploring a new technology, I’d talk to those who use it and those who have NO vested interest in you buying it. “Do as I say and not as I do” is not a convincing mantra.