There are many factors to be weighed when selecting a primary vendor for any UC implementation.
I’m evaluating a new UC solution for my organization and have a few questions regarding how heavily vendor performance should be weighed against product performance. For instance, with the persistent bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions in Telecommunications marketplace, how much should I worry about the financial track record a vendor? After all, it seems the troubled ones will just be acquired by a larger competitor or “rescued” by some Venture firm.
Even if a struggling company is acquired by an (arguably) stronger one, there are still major business disruptions created for the 1-3 years that it can take to assimilate the acquired company. And with the enormous debt some companies are taking on, it will be a long time – if ever – before they can “sell their way out”.
To play devil’s advocate, some companies have a good track record of successfully assimilating technology & personnel. Aastra has made several acquisitions in the last 4 years and has a provided investment protection for customers by creating applications with open standards that can enhance existing solutions rather than forcing an immediate conversion.
Given that some of the long-recognized “names” in the industry are in trouble, it seems there are no sure bets. I wonder if it is really riskier to go with a lesser known vendor if they have a solution that meets the customer's needs?
Brand recognition can be as a result of large market share, but it could also be the result of a huge marketing budget. Look for vendors that invest in R&D and customer satisfaction rather than simply marketing. One great measure is of a vendor’s track record is to talk to their customers.
My CIO won’t consider a vendor unless they are highly rated by industry analyst firms. How much weight do other companies place on these independent evaluations?
If you’re going to include industry analyst reports as part of your evaluation, ensure that you have the research in context (not simply a single quote). Also, look at research from more than one firm as they each have different core competencies. Look at their comments in relation to your specific needs rather than in general; concentrate on trends rather than absolutes.
I totally agree with Anonymous about taking the research in context. This has been such a problem that even a Gartner analyst recently blogged about it. It’s just a tool, Gartner may (and often does) recommend vendors that are not in the Leader column and as the aforementioned Gartner analyst points out “an MQ reflects only a tiny percentage of what an analyst actually knows about the vendor.” One final point to think about it…last year Gartner had Nortel in the Leaders quadrant – enterprise customers need to do their own due diligence on criteria that is important to them!
Excellent post by Dave Michels "Unified Communications: Through the Magic (Quadrant) Glass" on Gartner's Magic Quadrants.