Gartner 2011 UC Magic Quadrant -- Growth and Maturity
The 2011 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications is now published. Gartner offers the report as part of their advisory services, but vendors can license access via their web sites; Microsoft seems to be the first to offer access this year (click here).
The key Gartner finding for 2011 is that “the unified communications portfolios have begun to mature with the emergence of integrated UC suites.” This differs from prior years when most vendors had broad portfolios that were not seamlessly integrated.
Microsoft and Cisco remain in the clear leadership positions in the leaders quadrant, with Microsoft slightly in the overall lead. Both Microsoft and Cisco seem to have small gains versus the competition since 2010. Avaya remains in the leaders quadrant; Siemens Enterprise Networks and Alcatel-Lucent return to the leaders quadrant from 2009.
The Gartner perspective is very consistent with the reviews and perspectives we have provided here at UCStrategies and at Enterprise Connect (nee VoiceCon) and Interop over the past several years:
The leading providers of business desktop solutions (Microsoft and IBM
) and business communication systems (Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Aastra
, Interactive Intelligence
) have all assembled viable suites of UC functionality, as Gartner highlights in the UC Magic Quadrant. However, there are many variations in the functionality and ease of use of those suites, which Gartner also mentions in the detailed vendor reviews.
The best approach for enterprise deployment of Unified Communications is to develop a multi-year strategy from which a logical, affordable, and high-payback roadmap of phased projects can be defined and executed. Gartner reflects this best practice as, “Most enterprises take a long-term approach to UC,” and, “Often, the UC initiative focuses on a specific project, and, as some projects are completed, others are initiated.”
Cloud-based options will play an increasingly important part as enterprises consider the network cloud as a platform for some of their user communities (field employees, remote workers, supply chain partners, clients, customers and consumers). In some cases, the cloud options will blend with on-premise solutions; in others an all-cloud approach may be sufficient and effective. The UC Magic Quadrant report mentions the cloud options now available from IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, and Siemens Enterprise Networks.
Mobility has an important role in UC. The UC Magic Quadrant describes the mobility functions for almost all of the companies in this year’s UC MQ. Many of the IP Telephony vendors, such as Mitel, NEC and ShoreTel are delivering very innovative and effective mobile UC functionality.
However, there are some key points about UC choices for enterprises that may be hidden in this year’s UC Magic Quadrant.
There are big differences in the deployment options of the UC suites, and it seems those differences are not highlighted in the Gartner report. Specifically, only a few of the UC suites (IBM Sametime and Microsoft Lync for certain, and perhaps Siemens Openscape, NEC Sphericall, and Digium Asterisk) can be deployed without the latest version of the vendor’s latest IP PBX platform, including all that the IP PBX pre-requisite implies as to cost and complexity of access to the UC applications. Since many enterprises are following a roadmap of phased projects, the flexibility of UC solutions which can be installed without replacing or upgrading the existing PBX infrastructure (whether TDM or IP) will have a major financial benefits both in cost avoidance and in faster UC-based business improvements.
There are wide variations between the vendors in the integration of their UC products with the business applications and business processes of an enterprise. Gartner has called this type of integration Communications-enabled Business Processes, or CEBP. We have been recommending for some time that businesses look closely at the value of embedding communication functions directly into their business applications (CRM, logistics, health care, education, etc.), their web portals, their collaborative workspaces (e.g. Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Quickr, and others), and their day to day productivity tools (for click-to-communicate from e-mails, calendars, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.). Of course, this matters only if your enterprise has such requirements, but it is worth evaluating those requirements as part of your UC plans since the payoffs are usually very significant.
Finally, it is worth noting the entrance of Huawei into this year’s UC Magic Quadrant. As noted, Huawei is primarily serving the Asia/Pacific region and primarily the carriers and larger enterprises, but Huawei is a highly effective company based in China and has the financial strength to expand their role in UC. Their choice to compete in the IP Telephony and UC marketplaces is a sign that they see growth opportunities for the UC sector.
Again, our appreciation to the Gartner team for producing a UC industry scorecard every year since 2003. It’s been a very interesting market evolution. Based on this year’s report, there is a lot of opportunity still on the table for both enterprises and vendors in the UC marketplace and the next few years should be very exciting for the industry.
Also on UCStrategies.com on this topic: