Thursday, October 25, 2007

Magic Quadrant for UC by Gartner

Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, 2007 by Gartner

Figure 1.Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, 2007

Market Overview

The UC market and its technologies are maturing, but, overall, the market remains at an early stage of maturity, and the adoption of converged solutions remains slow. The slow adoption is the result of multiple technical and organizational issues, including:

  • Some new technologies, such as presence, are not fully understood.
  • Best practices around the use of UC are not well-defined or well-developed.
  • Many products are still at an early stage and lack functionality.
  • Enterprises have large investments in existing communication infrastructures that must be preserved; this lead to a slower evolutionary approach, rather than to the faster, revolutionary "rip and replace" approach.
  • Some applications and products can be complex to deploy.
  • The business case frequently is based on a soft return on investment (ROI), such as productivity improvements, rather than on hard ROIs, such as cost savings.

Gartner expects many barriers to slowly be resolved and that, in 2008, UC will enter an early mainstream adoption phase globally. UC offers multiple capabilities and is useful in different ways, depending on the function and users supported. Gartner research (see "Discovering the Value of Unified Communications") suggests that enterprises define their business cases depending on the problems and audiences addressed. Some UC investments are justified in personal-productivity improvements; other investments are geared toward workgroup improvements and should be justified at that level. Still other functions are geared toward broad enterprise workflow improvements and are justified at an enterprisewide-productivity level.

UC solutions often appear to take one of three general approaches:

  • One is to bundle most functionality tightly in a single solution; examples of this include Nortel's Multimedia Communication Server (MCS) 5100, Siemens' OpenScape, and Interactive Intelligence's Customer Interaction Center (CIC) products.
  • A second approach is to take a broad portfolio of separate communication functions and tie them together through shared services, such as presence, administration and directories. Examples of this include Cisco and Microsoft solutions.
  • A third approach is to offer a common communication framework, or middleware, that can be used by unrelated communication applications. IBM and Oracle are taking this approach.

Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. The bundled approach makes it easier to offer a solution at a departmental or workgroup level, and is useful for pilots and trials, because the overall expense and commitment is low. The broad, established-portfolio approach is useful to companies that already have a strong commitment to a vendor, because this approach enables infrastructure investments to be leveraged. Finally, the framework approach is particularly effective when building a communication solution that fits into a broader Web-services or business-application environment.

Another important distinction among vendor solutions is the extent to which they are open to standards and to integration with third-party communication products. Some solutions are intended primarily to enhance and operate on their own IP-PBX or presence environments. Others clearly are intended to interoperate in multiple environments. Some solutions, such as those from AVST, are designed specifically as part of a broader portfolio.

However, there is no single-best approach, and no one vendor offers everything an enterprise needs for communications. Companies must make decisions by evaluating the emerging options based on current needs and how these options fit with the business's longer-term strategies. Because most enterprises will end up with communication solutions from multiple vendors, enterprises should ensure that the different products can interoperate.


Ability to Execute

Gartner analysts evaluate UC product providers on the quality, efficacy and overall maturity of the products, systems, tools and procedures that enhance individual, group and enterprise communications. Ultimately, UC providers are judged on their ability and success in capitalizing on their vision (see Table 1).


Completeness of Vision

Gartner analysts evaluate UC product providers on their ability to convincingly articulate logical statements about current and future market directions, innovations, customer needs and competitive forces, and how well these map to Gartner's overall understanding of the marketplace. Ultimately, UC product providers are rated on their understanding of how market forces can be exploited to create opportunities for providers and their clients (see Table 2).



The Leaders quadrant contains vendors selling comprehensive and integrated UC solutions that directly, or with well-defined partnerships, address the full range of market needs. These vendors have defined migration and evolution plans for their products in core UC areas and are using their solution sets to enter new clients into their client roster, and to expand their footprint in their existing client base in new function areas.


Vendors in the Challengers quadrant offer solutions that are poised to move into leadership but have not yet done so. The reasons for this can include a solution set that covers most but not all UC functions, is full but not yet mature, or is not yet being delivered to a new client base or being adopted by new clients and is almost uniquely sold as an add-on to the installed client base.


Vendors in the Visionaries quadrant demonstrate a clear understanding of the UC market and offer a strong and differentiating approach to one or more core areas. However, these vendors have limited ability to execute across the entire set of requirements, or have marketing and distribution limits to their ability to challenge established leaders.

Niche Players

Vendors in the Niche Players quadrant offer stand-alone components in several UC areas but do not have a comprehensive product; or they have a solution that will have limited market reach. Although these solutions often perform specific functions well, they do not represent a complete solution for the broader UC market.


Slav said...

Gartner's "magic quadrants" are meaningless marketing instruments. There's no explanation, no historic data, and you have to arrange a call with Gartner to get additional info - which is still of no use.

Only full testing against defined set of requirements helps proper product selection.

Joachim Farla (MCSE2003) said...

Market Definition/Description
UC is a direct result of the convergence of communications and applications. Differing forms of communications historically have been developed, marketed and sold as individual applications. In some cases, they even had separate networks and devices. The convergence of all communications on IP networks and open software platforms enables a new UC paradigm and is changing how individuals, groups and organizations communicate.
Gartner defines UC products (equipment, software and services) as those that enhance individual, workgroup and organizational productivity by enabling and facilitating the control, management, integration and use of multiple enterprise communication methods. UC products achieve this through the convergence and integration of communication channels (that is, media), networks, systems and business applications, as well as through the consolidation of the controls over them. UC products may be made up of a stand-alone product suite or may be a portfolio of integrated applications and platforms.
UC products are used by employees to facilitate their personal communications, and by enterprises to support workgroup and collaborative communications. Products also may extend UC outside company boundaries to enhance communications among organizations, to support interactions among large public communities or for personal communications.
"A Framework for Unified Communications" provides a taxonomy for UC functionality. A useful way to understand the UC market is to view it in five communication product areas that are converging in the current generation of products:

• One area comprises IP telephony and softphones, which are replacing the traditional PBX architecture.

• Unified messaging is integrating voice mail with e-mail.

• E-mail is evolving toward a more powerful desktop knowledge and contact management tool.

• Separate voice, video and Web-conferencing capabilities are converging in various forms.

• IM solutions are expanding their capabilities to incorporate presence for multiple communication methods (sometimes called rich presence) and have become an effective way from which to initiate differing forms of live conversations.
These five areas increasingly will be bundled into combined offerings. However, they also will continue to be offered as stand-alone products. In addition to these five UC product areas, Gartner has identified four emerging UC products.

• General-purpose, communicator clients: These provide a common client for all communication functions, including voice, conferencing, presence, IM and, in some cases, e-mail.

• Rich-presence services: As presence becomes more widely used, tools and pre-built integrations for federating and integrating presence information with location-based services (LBSs), radio frequency identification, network routers, mobile networks and other sources will be useful.

• Intelligent assistants: These simplify and personalize contact routing, notification and access functions. They may provide limited administrative functions via phone or the Web.

• Notification services: These operate on multiple channels and have a wide range of uses. They can be personal and based on personal rules, or role-based (for example, a supervisor on call). They may have the ability to escalate, if no response is received, or to take action based on a response. As UC products mature and requirements are better-understood, new products are likely to appear.
Gartner's UC market model also defines four broader technology and market areas that are critically related to UC. These broader areas are contact centers, mobility (in various forms), business process integration and collaboration applications beyond Web conferencing. These broader areas are related to each product area defined above and to UC products. However, these four broader areas will remain markets in their own right and must be viewed as related but separate from UC.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To be included in this Magic Quadrant, solution providers must show all these capabilities:
• Significant market presence must occur in two or more core communication areas defined in Gartner's UC model.

• Market presence can be demonstrated in one of two ways — by significant market share or by differentiating innovation.

• Sufficient sales, revenue and operational presence must support market objectives.

• Providers must demonstrate enterprise premise UC portfolio/products with references.

• Vendor solutions must enable a complete portfolio, even if parts are offered via partnerships.
• There must be the ability to generate significant interest by leading client market segments.

Evaluation Criteria included in current post.