Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, 2007 by Gartner
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.
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.