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Saying Goodbye to Longtime Industry Guru Ken Landoline
Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This quote speaks volumes when looking back at the career of my colleague at Omdia, Ken Landoline.
In his time spent as an industry analyst/consultant and product marketing executive, Ken held many roles in business development, strategic development, and product management. But being an analyst is the role he loved the most. “I was hooked on being an analyst,” he said.
A Career Unfolded
Prior to entering the analyst world, Ken held various managerial positions at telecommunications giants, including Siemens Business Communications, Fujitsu, and Pacific Bell Information Services, among others. While in these roles, he achieved numerous accomplishments, such as when he developed a tactical approach for sales development efforts that resulted in a corporate-wide overhaul of lead-development and sales-generation programs. He also grew annual revenues from zero to more than $100 million in five years for a network-based telecommunications application product line.
His proudest accomplishment while in telephony happened at AT&T’s Western Electric Division, when he developed a strategy and a market research study to extend the life of the Dimension PBX as competitors were moving into what had previously been a monopoly position for the company, Ken told me. The project not only extended the product life five to seven years while AT&T worked on its replacement, but that achievement also prompted Ken’s promotion from Western Electric product planning to AT&T headquarters as a “third-level manager.”
Intrigued by all the new and developing telecom technologies throughout the early 1990s, Ken’s interest grew and he wanted to learn more. “These positions gave me a very focused view of specific product and markets, including the international messaging business, the PBX (business telephone systems), and ACD (call center) business,” he said.
With his combined insights into executive management, operations, and corporate strategic planning, as well as expertise in the PBX business, Ken was asked to join Dataquest (one of the two major telecom analyst groups in north America at the time). “I think the opportunity to have a position that moved my focus from very product-focused to one with a broad overview of the industry on a daily basis made that offer very attractive,” he said.
Eventually, Ken became director of telecom research for North America, managing 22 analysts covering the telecom industry’s voice, data, and video segments. “It was a great group to manage and many of those analysts remain my friends today,” he said.
Throughout the remainder of his career as an analyst, Ken established new coverage areas at different firms. In 1999, as VP and practice leader at the Robert Francis Group, he established technology research coverage in new and developing areas such as voice analytics; customer service applications, including self-service, multi-channel contact centers; presence management; and speech recognition and analytics. And as principal analyst at Current Analysis, he designed and developed a new segment of market coverage to focus on customer engagement management (CEM) strategies and consulting services.
One of his most memorable moments occurred while at Dataquest, where he served as the lead analyst in the voice research group. One day, he recounted, the VP of research asked the entire telecom analyst group to vote on who should be promoted to the open group director position to manage 25 analysts. His colleagues unanimously selected him. “It was the first time I had won an election without ever running for the office,” he joked.
Most recently, Ken has worked as principal analyst at Omdia — not to mention his volunteer work at a teenage boys’ county detention facility in Byron, Calif., or his role as an adjunct business professor at the University of Phoenix and San Jose City College. For the past five years at Omdia, he has applied his wide breadth and depth of expertise in customer engagement practices and customer care technologies/strategies to serve as an advisor to business organizations ranging from Fortune 500 firms to new industry start-ups. In doing so, he’s secured, managed, and fulfilled consulting contracts amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year with companies requiring specially-designed and focused custom research projects.
Leading with Integrity
His Omdia colleagues value his deep industry knowledge. Daniel Mayo, senior director of enterprise IT at Omdia, said, “Ken is one of our key analysts, who has become recognized globally by the industry as one of the leading specialists in his field. Ken has always been a pleasure to work with, and I wish him all the best with his retirement.”
Tim Banting, practice leader for Omdia’s enterprise IT and digital workplace practice, added, “What I have observed is a person who has integrity at his core, meets his commitments, has provided insightful analysis for many clients over his tenure in the industry, and will be sadly missed.”
In addition to Omdia analysts, Ken’s clients bid him a fond farewell. Here is a snapshot of those well-wishes from across the contact center market:
- Christine Holly, Senior Manager, Market Strategy, Salesforce — The thing I love best about my job — and why I have stayed at it for so long — are the close relationships with analysts that get built only over time and through mutual respect. Ken was one of those analysts. He is a living example of authenticity, curiosity, passion, fairness, and humility. He invested time and energy to stay ahead of his industry, which enabled him to maximize his value to others. And he did so with positivity, humor, and grace. I hope by Ken's example other analysts are empowered to embrace both their competence and their humanity, with the understanding that professional relationships are all still relationships at heart.
- Ryan Zuk, Director, Analyst Relations, Verint — Ever reliable and steady-at-the-wheel sums up Verint’s sentiments for Ken. Whether time-sensitive inquiries, office visits, spotlighting his insights for our customers, or connecting online, Ken always applied his studious demeanor and analytic skills for which we benefitted. We’ll miss checking in with Ken for his read of the market, though we’re delighted to congratulate him for such a successful tenure in the contact center and customer engagement profession. Best wishes to Ken!
- Dennis MacNeil, Senior Director, Analyst Relations, Twilio — What I appreciate most about Ken as an analyst is that he's not one to get caught up in hype. If you want to influence Ken to see your point of view, you better come up with the evidence to back it up. I would like to wish Ken all the best in his retirement and that he gets to catch up on doing all the things he didn't have time for because he was too busy helping his clients.
- Meredith Egg, Director of Analyst Relations, Genesys — Ken was always thoughtful with his advice to vendors. We always received actional insights and recommendations in our inquiry conversations with Ken. I’ve always enjoyed working with Ken. He’s going to be greatly missed. I wish him all the best for a long and enjoyable retirement.
- Christine Randle, Director of Analyst Relations, Oracle — Good luck, Ken! I’ve genuinely enjoyed working with you over the last few years. A true professional, knowledgeable, insightful, and kind. You’ve been an absolute delight, and I wish you the very best in your next adventure.
One Last Market Outlook
No doubt, Ken has seen many changes to contact centers and their supporting technologies throughout his career. Especially over the past decade, which has seen tremendous technological changes. Ken muses, “We saw the transition from hardware to software, premises-based to cloud-based systems, and the introduction of self-help, AI, machine learning and bots, and the expansion of remote workers.”
As he looks to the future, Ken says we should expect even more growing changes in industry restructure, as with the convergence of contact center and UC. This union will result in the mergers or acquisitions of five or six industry leaders, he predicts.
Ken also believes a global network of subject matter experts will eventually emerge and replace customer service agents. These live “Super Agents” will be selected by AI-driven routing processes designed to better facilitate first contact resolution based on the desire for improved customer/employee satisfaction levels and the application of empathy, if required. “Contact centers will no longer be a standalone product line offering as we see the merger of what used to be separate markets and products for contact centers, CRM, customer data platforms, and voice telephony systems (PBXs),” he says. “It will become a merged offering that will be the ‘customer engagement optimizer.’”
Author's note: For the past four and a half years, Ken not only has been my colleague, but my mentor and friend. His solid work ethic has kept me focused, his understanding of the industry and the changing environment has helped to guide my research, his friendship has been a comfort, and his humanitarian efforts have inspired me. He will be greatly missed, but I wish him the best in creating his next chapter.