Centre stage with Dave Mailer, Director and Principal Consultant at 4C Strategies Ltd…
A topical Q&A with a leading light within the unified communications community.
Born – Edinburgh. Who’d have guessed?
Studied / Education background – BSc (Eng) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bristol. My final project was in networking and I’ve been in the telecoms and networking space ever since.
Current role / bio – I’ve worked in enterprise communications all of my working life with the past 25 years as an independent consultant advising and supporting large institutions with strategy development, procurement, implementation and benefits realisation for major voice, unified communications, collaboration and infrastructure projects. I’ve taken many clients on the journey from traditional telephone systems to unified communications and have experienced the ups and downs of the journey from the customer' perspective.
In addition to client consulting work, I am Board Member of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants International (SCTC) and find myself regularly speaking at events such as UC EXPO.
Who do you work for and what does your role entail?
I founded 4C Strategies with my colleagued Brian Cawley and Mark Sayers in 1998. As a director and principal consultant at 4C I work as an independent ICT consultant advising a wide range of clients with their communications and collaboration needs. I aim to bridge the gap between business challenges and technology. Independence is fundamental to our approach at 4C. My job is to ensure that my clients understand their business needs and the range of solutions available to them well enough to have the confidence to make their own decisions. But I’m not shy about expressing an opinion either!
What made you choose a career in UC?
I’ve been around too long to have chosen a career in UC. It didn’t exist when I entered the industry. But I like to think that I have always recognised the pace of change in telecoms and the need to be prepared to explore and adopt new technologies and solutions. It’s the variety that keeps me here. No two assignments are the same and there’s always something new to learn.
What do you think is required to be successful in the UC industry?
That has to depend upon your role. But as an independent consultant I would have to say that it takes a healthy dose of scepticism! Our industry has moved a long way in the past quarter century. Many aspects are now marketing led rather than being about delivering technologies to meet proven business needs. And many of those messages are contradictory. I won’t go as far as to say that you shouldn’t believe a word you are told. But be prepared to challenge and seek your own evidence.
What’s been your biggest work achievement of the last 12 months?
The same as last year, and the year before – in this industry it’s an achievement just to get through another 12 months. I’m immensely proud that 4C Strategies remains a constant source of advice and guidance for our clients whilst the UC world appears to be in turmoil around us with acquisitions, market churn, continual innovation and premature obsolescence of technologies we all rely upon.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Listen…………………….” Delivered by both my parents on a continual basis. It probably took 10 years of being reminded before it eventually sunk in. But there is nothing more important for an independent consultant. Listen to your clients, listen to your colleagues, listen to the industry. The more listening we do the more informed our advice to clients will be.
What are your predictions for the UC industry for 2019/20 or beyond?
To predict the future, you need to look behind you. Technology changes but trends remain the same. Yes, there will be change but, I predict that it will not be at anything like the pace that the industry tells us it will happen. Look to the consumer space for what will come to the enterprise space – but you might have to wait a while.
Join Dave at UC EXPO at ExCeL London, 15-16 May 2019
Attend my sessions about Microsoft Teams and cloud UC deployments at UC EXPO to learn how to take control of your own projects and services rather than being dictated to by the industry.