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In this Industry Buzz podcast, the UCStrategies UC Experts discuss Gartner's new Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications. The podcast is moderated by Marty Parker, who is joined by Experts Dave Michels, Kevin Kieller, Russell Bennett, Michael Finneran, Jon Arnold, Phil Edholm, Don Van Doren, Art Rosenberg, and Steve Leaden.
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Marty Parker: Hello everyone, this is Marty Parker with UCStrategies. Today I will be moderating our discussion about the new Gartner 2012 UC Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications. As most of you know, this has been published annually since 2003, and each year it has evolved. This year it has had some interesting though somewhat subtle evolutions. We're going to talk about that in our commentary today.
I’ll just say a couple things to open up. One is that the Leader’s Quadrant highlights four players. We have Microsoft and Cisco, or Cisco and Microsoft, depending on what order you want me to say them in – and Avaya and Siemens Enterprise Communications. I think members of our group will comment on that as we go along so I won’t say more. I will add just two thoughts for you. One is that UC Magic Quadrant contains quite a bit of evidence that the UC market has matured to where it really is the primary decision criteria for communications in the enterprise; and the PBX, I would say, has been reduced to the equivalent of an email server. Both of them are very important, but neither of them is unified communications on its own.
So I think there’s a very important theme to watch for in this Magic Quadrant as you read it. By the way, I put a post-up on UCStrategies.com where you can find links from Microsoft or Cisco or Siemens – all three of them are offering you a copy of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for download if your company is not already a subscriber to Gartner services.
The second comment I’d make is in terms of market highlights. Gartner really puts an important statement up there that the stakes are exceedingly high for the venders in the UC market right now. We’re going to comment on that. It appears that Gartner believes that if you're not succeeding in the UC market you have some pretty big risks in your business. They also say the stakes are high for enterprise decision-makers, obviously because the path you choose as a decision-maker is something you'll have to live with for five or more years. There are some comments on that in my posts that you can read.
They do talk about four major risk characteristics related to mobility, to openness, to cloud, and to breadth of solution appeal. The only one I’d like to mention an opinion on here is on openness. I really think Gartner would have been better to call that interoperation. Very few of our UniComm Consulting enterprise customers or clients tend to want to get in and mess with the code. They’re less concerned about openness than they are about will it work with what I already own? Will it interoperate with my PBX, with my video assets, with my email servers and clients? That’s more the question we see on the table. But I think that may be what Gartner meant by openness. You can read for yourself and decide.
With those introductory comments, I’m going to ask the team of UC experts to add their perspectives, which I think will make this a really valuable podcast. I’m going to call first on Dave Michels. Dave, what are your comments on the Magic Quadrant this year?
Dave Michels (3:24): Thanks Marty. I love the Magic Quadrant. I think that what Gartner does – or at least attempts to do – in this document is obviously compare every vender on a level playing field, which is an inherently extremely complex thing to do. I would also say a little dangerous to do because we’re often picking a vender based on a non-level playing field. We often want very specific attributes in our purchasing decision. This is a very complex document. I know that in my research reports I tend to focus on just one vender trying to tell their story. That’s a much easier thing to do admittedly. What Gartner attempts to do – and this is staggering and I respect what they’ve done. I think that it raises a lot of questions. I’m just going to throw out a couple of things that I find when I read this report, questions that I have in mind that I think need to be answered or addressed before making some sort of purchasing decision.
In the stakes section starting on page two, they talk about the stakes for venders are exceedingly high and they need to have a couple of these things under their belts. One of the first things they talk about is mobility. They don’t really explain what they mean by that, though. I look at what the venders are talking about, and every vender has a mobility solution. Every vender has at least one or two mobile clients. Pretty much every vender is supporting an iPad. Some venders are supporting a PSTN phone where you can just make that your primary phone wherever you happen to be. They don’t really explain – in my opinion – what a good mobility solution is, or how to differentiate the mobility solutions. Should it represent voice or conferencing? What type of mobile devices? Does anything matter more than Android and IOS these days? I don't know. Where does Microsoft mobile fit in? So, I think there are a lot of questions around mobility. Just saying mobility is an important consideration is tricky because every vender has got that.
The other one that falls in that same category is openness. They describe openness as very important. They specifically say "avoid walled gardens." Who has a walled garden? Every vender out there is trumpeting openness, adherence to standards, and I know that when I say, "who has a walled garden?" that some of my colleagues on the phone here are champing at the bit to answer that. But reality is every vender is positioning themselves as a champion of openness and interoperability. There are lots of holes in the stories, but I don’t think that this report necessarily helps identify those.
Third, along the same line there, they talk about cloud. They actually say that hybrid UC solutions will play an important role. I find that kind of hypocritical because they don’t talk about the UC as a Service models. Those are a separate report you have to get. I think that the hybrid model makes a lot of sense and that more and more customers are looking at UC as a total solution, which may or may not involve on-premise equipment, may or may not involve hosted services, may or may not involve virtualization. I’m not sure how or why Gartner keeps on separating the reports for UC as a Service verses UC premise-based. I don't know if that’s a distinguishing factor for a lot of people in their minds.
Then, I just want to go to the graph briefly – the famous Magic Quadrant, I should call it. Rather than talking about some of the individual vender placements, which I think will be well covered in this podcast, I just wanted to point out that the two axis are also equally ambiguous. The two are the Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. I look at – for example – ability to execute. What does that mean? In the previous reports they did a better job of defining that. Is it profitability? Is it revenue? Is it their brand recognition? Is it their momentum? Obviously the answer is some sort of combination of those factors. I look at the graph and I see things like Mitel and ShoreTel being in the same place. These are two very different companies, very different revenues, very different international footprints, very different capabilities. I find that hard to fathom why they would be at about the same point in ability to execute. I see Siemens Enterprise even higher. The biggest news out of Siemens earlier this year at Enterprise Connect and other events was their little video camera that they were allowed to license from Biscotti. It was promised in three months and here we are in September and it still hasn’t come out yet. And, they’ve got a really high ability to execute? I question that. Aastra is even lower. They’ve had some 60 quarters of profitability. I wonder why they’re so low. Digium is even lower than that. They’re the only vender with cloud-sourced R&D. They get a tremendous amount of innovation every year. Arguably, the biggest R&D department of any of these companies or all of these companies combined. I don’t really understand that axis.
Then, I look at the other axis – completeness of vision – and I think this is also a little misleading. They all have complete visions. Some of them are in niches. A good example of that is Interactive Intelligence. They have a very comprehensive vision around call centers. ShoreTel has got a very low rating in the completeness of vision, but they’re doing cloud. They’re doing mobility. They’re doing UC features – a very broad portfolio. I would like a little more discussion/clarification on these axis and how they determine them because they mean a lot. People look at these dots and they conclude that so and so has got a more complete vision than the other, but I caution customers into really understanding how these solutions fit into their particular portfolios and complement their requirements. So, I’ll turn it back over to you. Thank you.
Marty Parker (9:01): Dave, those are good points – especially on the two dimensions of the Magic Quadrant. I’ll just say to our listeners, page 18 of the Magic Quadrant report defines the criteria on those two axis and pages 23 and 24 have written descriptions on them. It takes careful reading of the vender commentary, however, to really understand how Gartner might have scored against those various criteria – even that careful reading doesn't go as far as Dave has suggested would be helpful.
I’m sure Gartner would suggest that you become a subscriber to the Gartner service and they would be happy to tell you, which is part of why they publish this. And they do give good advice. So with that, I’m going to move on and call on Kevin Kieller. Kevin, what would your comments be about this?
Kevin Kieller (9:52): Thanks very much Marty. So, for everybody listening, I certainly encourage you to read Marty’s post because I think he’s drilled down into some important areas. I think Dave brings up some good points in terms of the criteria and how it’s evaluated. From my perspective, it’s important for a reader to understand that whether or not Gartner has done an adequate job of defining the criteria in terms of the evaluation across the axis, understand that they’re evaluating against some generic criteria. I really believe that you need to look at that, and if that criteria aligns well to your organization’s priorities, then you can kind of just take the dots as they are. I have to laugh because – as Marty pointed out – all of the people in the Leader’s Quadrant are certainly willing to allow you to download this report and will see this Magic Quadrant reproduced many, many times. But, it is – as most things with UC – the devil is in the details.
A couple of things I want to comment on specifically are – as Marty pointed out – Gartner says, “The stakes for the venders in the enterprise UC market are exceedingly high. The stakes for the enterprise decision-makers is also high. Four UC characteristics will have an important effect on the success of a UC product.”
I agree with that. Nobody wants to be the enterprise decision-maker who makes the wrong choice, who invests in the wrong technology, who picks a technology that isn’t aligned with what their business priorities are. I do think that where it says, “These four characteristics will have an important effect,” it really should read “may have an important impact,” because what happens is they go to list the criteria – they list mobility. In many, many organizations mobility is of critical importance and even becoming more important. But I still certainly run into organizations...they’re a manufacturing organization, a retail organization... The workers are not needing to be mobile. So having all the different modalities of communication on every potential mobile smartphone or mobile device is not really that critical to them. I do think that this is a particular case where analysts for the most part – the people that write these reports, and like us, who talk about these reports – our jobs are mobile. So we often score mobility higher than all organizations. You need to really look at, is mobility of critical importance to your organization? If it is, fantastic. Gartner makes a point that they’ve rated that very highly and so that’ll skew some of the ratings.
Then they follow with openness. They say with regard to openness, “Support for standards is a critical consideration as enterprises wish to integrate their UC deployments with business partners, customers, business applications, and third party products.” That may very well be the case, but I’m going to argue similar to what Marty said in terms of interoperability as the key. Integrating with business partners really has nothing to do with supporting standards. Certainly I’ve talked about it before, Lync federation – the Lync federation directory – there are thousands of organizations that support Lync and you can federate with. Certainly in the marketplace of mid and enterprise customers, that’s where I’m certainly seeing federation opportunities. Really, at the end of the day, these organizations don’t care if that federation relies on any standards because they’re all using the same product and therefore business partners, supply chain, customers – they can all federate. So, the words "standard" and "openness" are often misconstrued and they take on too much of a marketing spin.
Then they go on to talk about some additional characteristics like cloud. I really think now were in the “cloud is over-hyped.” Many organizations, many customers I speak to, they want cloud because they think cloud is less expensive. But that’s not a given. I think you have to do the math. You have to do your homework. Really, organizations are looking to the cloud because a lot of times if you push on what they’re looking for – what are their objectives?, what are their success criteria? – they just want a managed solution. So that can still be an on-premise solution. They just don’t want to be in the business of managing this complex and increasingly complex communication environment.
Then they talk about broad solution appeal. That’s kind of a bit of a motherhood statement. Certainly you do need to get, for UC, a whole bunch of groups inside the organization lined up and all singing from the same song sheet. Certainly the way that I’ve seen (this) be effective is evaluate several viable alternatives. Do it in a transparent way. Involve the network group, the application group, the voice group, the other key stakeholders in the organization. And don’t just recommend a particular platform, but look at the pros and the cons – specifically the cons – and get a consensus inside the organization. Otherwise, what I’ve seen is, there is no UC decision.
That’s really where one of the key things, and Marty points this out in his post, is that the cautions in the Gartner report – which really equate to what I call the "cons" of a solution. This is an important section to read to see if you're comfortable with the cons that Gartner calls out for the vender or venders that you're considering.
The last thing, where I’m going to disagree with Marty’s intro and his post is, I do still see that it’s important to look at this – the UC Magic Quadrant – as compared to the corporate telephony Magic Quadrant – because there are some organizations, and I know it may be blasphemy, but there are some organizations who are in this day and age still well served just by voice. If you don’t need UC, if that doesn't meet your business’s objectives, then to be honest you should be looking at the other Magic Quadrant and evaluating your decisions accordingly. With that, back to you Marty.
Marty Parker: Alright Kevin, I’m not a religious biggot. So I’m fine if there are two Magic Quadrants. But I still think UC will rule – just my own opinion. Russell Bennett has some thoughts he’d like to share, and the ball is to you, Russell.
Russell Bennett (16:36): Thanks, Marty. I’d like to echo Dave’s comments that the Magic Quadrant is a great concept. I think it is very well implemented, and in general, I love it. I think that people should not just look at the actual quadrant itself. They should read the entire report – as Marty pointed out earlier – and then you'll understand all the points that are being made and why various different venders are in the quadrants that they are.
Overall, I think that paying attention to the pixel placements of the different venders in the quadrants isn’t that helpful, but the placement within the quadrants certainly is a positive indicator. I often wonder why anybody who is a niche player in any Magic Quadrant or in any particular evaluation would be a serious contender in a customer’s short list, but obviously that’s up to them.
In terms of the four that are in the leader’s quadrants – Cisco, Microsoft, Avaya, and Siemens. There is one reason why they’re there that isn’t reflected – in my opinion – in the Gartner assessment, and that is federation. Kevin already mentioned this, and let me expand on that a little bit. Federation is the ability for one UC implementation to communicate from company to company with another. This is all about communications, after all. If 10 years ago, a PBX salesmen said, "I’ve got a great PBX for you, but you can only phone internally. You can only call other extension inside the company. You can’t call another company." Would you have bought that PBX? The answer is no. It’s almost useless. It’s a bit like an intercom system.
I think in this day and age, a UC system that can’t be used to communicate from one implementation to another, from one company to another, isn’t really a communication system. And if you don’t support federation, then in my opinion, you don’t really have unified communication. Now, we know there are standards and interoperability issues with regard to inter-vender federation. However, in defense of the particular venders, they can’t control what the other guys do. They can only control what they do. What they should be doing, above all else, is making sure that customer A can interoperate with customer B on the same vender implementations.
It turns that the four venders who have implemented federation or are on the verge of it or are partially implementing it are the ones that are in the Leader’s Magic Quadrant. Arguably the others don’t think it’s important. I’ve spoken to a couple of these guys about it, and they’re just focusing on the modality issues. I think that’s a mistake. In 2012 – as I’ve already said – when one UC system doesn't communicate with another it isn’t a communication system.
That’s my take on it. I think the four venders that are in the Leader’s quadrant are very well placed to continue to succeed. The ones who are lagging behind have got some catching up to do. Thanks Marty, and back to you.
Marty Parker (19:41): Thanks Russell. Those are some great insights. I appreciate them very much. I’m going to call next on Michael Finneran. Michael, Bern Elliot and Steve Blood went quite a ways down the road of importance of mobility but I know your experience from actual fact is a little bit different. You probably have some good comments for us on that, please.
Michael Finneran (20:00): Well, I have some comments – good or not, we’ll find out. Marty, thanks for hosting and thanks to the folks at Gartner for such a fine piece of work. Also, I should mention to everyone that the report itself is available online from all the venders in the Leader’s Quadrant and the links to all those pages are in Marty’s post that he put up this morning.
But, on mobility specifically – well, first I agree with Dave that a little closer definition of what they mean by mobility would be a bit helpful. But the bigger question I had was while the Gartner guys were stressing the importance of mobility brought my first question to be, why? Now, that might seem somewhat blasphemous given the overall importance of mobility, but as has been pointed out a couple times now, all of the venders do have mobile UC clients, and the big thing they have in common is, none of them sell. If nobody is using the product, how does it differentiate anything?
Of course maybe that’s some depth in there that I’m missing, but clearly the uptake of those mobile clients – what the UC venders have offered – has been close on nil. Of course I do see it as important, but what I don’t see is anything that really differentiates one vender from another. They all have the same thing. Nobody buys any of them. There are some differentiators. It was probably just in the size of the amount of time they could spend with each vender that the Gartner guys really couldn’t pull out some of the differentiators. Some of the mobile clients are dual mode. Some only run on cellular networks. Some run on both and have an automatic hand off between the two. You have things like the range of operating systems supported – the features. It’s a 50/50 split about today when we look at whether presence is available through a mobile device. Some of the clients now are moving on to a second generation. They did make a positive mention of Avaya’s Flare, but the conversation interface from Alcatel-Lucent also has a lot of those same very appealing features as does the new OpenScape Mobile from Siemens.
I do agree that mobility is important. How important or how well that’s being executed upon though, I think, is a key differentiator. That’s something we should look at more closely. Back to you, Marty.
Marty Parker (22:02): I think that’s a very nice summary on some of the mobility points Michael. I think you reinforced the points that Kevin made, which is that it only matters when you get specific to your enterprise’s requirements. Maybe if more enterprises went to that level, more mobile clients would be sold, I don't know. But, thanks for your points. I’m going to call next on Jon Arnold. Jon, what would you say about the Magic Quadrant?
Jon Arnold (22:28): Thanks, Marty. There’s been a lot of good stuff here from many different perspectives. I think the listeners are going to get a pretty good take on this report. Just a couple of quick points. With all the focus on mobility, we know it has had limited deployment with success so far. I’m a little surprised in this list of functions how little emphasis there’s been on video. It’s kind of lumped in with the conferencing. I realize that’s a big part of how video is used, but it certainly is not the only way to use video, and it certainly doesn't speak to personal levels of video use.
That of course leads over to the mobile space and even social media. This kind of pushes out towards some of the more advanced applications. I know it’s early days yet, but I was just kind of surprised to see so little emphasis on video as part of the overall UC value proposition. I think within a year or two it will be just as important as everything else listed here in their six applications for the mix. That’s one thing I would like to comment on.
I agree with the earlier comments about cloud and there’s certainly a lot of value for hybrid out there in these solutions. Just on to the Magic Quadrant – along the lines of what Dave was saying – just some questions about what they really mean by visionaries and niche, etc. I was kind of surprised but pleased to see NEC up there rated quite high. They’re not a company North Americans would normally associate with UC, but they’ve clearly made a lot of progress. And of course, Huawei is becoming the unnamed player in the room. I think every vender in this quadrant has good reason to be concerned.
I think Gartner has done a good job sizing up where Huawei needs help in penetrating the North American market. Seeing them in the picture is, I think, pretty important because it speaks to where the players from outside of the space are starting to make some headway. I wouldn’t be surprised in a few years’ time to see Google on this matrix as well. Similar to Dave’s point about vision, Interactive Intelligence definitely…for me, it’s hard to say that Mitel is more visionary than Interactive. Similarly, you look at where Siemens has gone. Are they really that much more visionary than IBM or even Digium? It’s really kind of hard to compare them fairly because they’re so different in their business lines.
I’m with Dave. Certainly some of these could be subjective in terms of how they arrive at these distinctions. But certainly to see Avaya this high up in the matrix at this point, they’ve obviously addressed the concerns. I think we all would expect over time for Avaya’s standing in this space to drop a few points if things continue as they are. I expect we're going to see some changes next year, but certainly no surprise to see Cisco and Microsoft neck and neck. I think that’s kind of the reality of the business and how this Magic Quadrant kind of business model itself kind of plays out.
But anyways, I just wanted to comment on that. I think the matrix can be misleading a little bit. Of course there’s nothing to add comment on the missing link between the venders and the customers and that is the channel in the middle where it’s probably a bit less of a factor for the large enterprises. But, I think that’s another key success factor – that some of these venders can have very, very good technologies, but if they don’t have the right partners – and that was commented on in a couple of the venders. If they don’t have the right channel partners that good technology is not going to reach its potential at all. I’ll leave it at that for now. Thanks, Marty.
Marty Parker (26:02): Thanks Jon. I agree with you that the channels are so important. Gartner did mention that primarily as cautions or concerns in the Ability to Execute dimension. But, it is really an important topic. Phil Edholm, I’m sure you have an interesting perspective on this and I’d like to hear what it is. Would you provide your comments for us?
Phil Edholm (26:25): It’s interesting this being the first time I’ve actually had the Magic Quadrant come out when I wasn’t on the other side of the fence waiting with baited breath to see how we faired.
Marty Parker: I know that, so I’m interested in what you say now.
Phil Edholm: I think it is an interesting perspective here. What you're seeing in this industry is – I think – in many ways a reflection of the maturation of the industry. You have a bunch of niche players down in the lower quadrant who are really quite frankly focused on either a channel, a market segment niche, or potentially the open source technology niche. I think what you typically see is that those venders now are trying to define their position in the market in a very different way.
I would almost say that in some ways as an enterprise they are probably not of a huge potential focus for you to a great extent. What I also find very interesting is that they’re a couple of people here that kind of don’t fit in exactly. I’d argue that both IBM and Interactive Intelligence, are less UC vendors than they have a UC component to something else they do.
What’s interesting, when you look over on the Visionary side is that the ranking really is broken down into the folks that have lots of money up at the top – lots of capability to invest. What’s really interesting is that the two venders at the top, Cisco and Microsoft, are the venders that actually are offering UC in conjunction with a broader solution. I think that’s really one of the key attributes of what’s happening in the industry.
Cisco, by integrating first VoIP and then UC with the underlying data network, has created momentum that’s very strong. That has really driven a lot of their ability to execute and compete as well as their vision of an overall system. Obviously Microsoft has approached this from, how do you integrate with productivity tools, and with the other Microsoft components that they deliver? Then of course has really added on – as has been pointed out before – the Lync federation, which has been, I think, a real lead for them.
The other three venders that are over to the right side of completeness and vision – all three are unique in that they are truly UC venders. That is their predominant product they sell. The interesting question I think begs out of this is as we look forward – not just one or two years down the line, but three or four years within that economic lifetime of investment – it’s very important to ensure that as you make your enterprise decision it aligns well with those two very different kind of venders at the top of the capability set.
I think it’s a great tool to use to understand venders and how you should consider them. I think then the next step is to really understand how do those venders apply to your specific situation and your specific implementation.
Interesting data. What I don’t see on this and it actually used to do is to take the years and do a transaction where you can actually see how things move over time because that tells you a much more effective view of the transition that’s happening and how to predict the future.
Marty Parker (29:58): Phil, thank you very much for that. You're right. It’s often interesting to stack them up and kind of do the movie of the vectors of different venders. I think that Jon’s comment on Huawei is an example of that. It wasn’t even on the Magic Quadrant until maybe two years ago and now kind of moving up. But yes, the dynamics are always interesting.
Don Van Doren, what would you like to comment on about this UC Magic Quadrant?
Don Van Doren (30:25): Thanks Marty. Two areas I’d like to comment on. One is about the discussion about openness, federation, and interoperation. I think that there are some important distinctions among those three elements – open being largely about standards, interoperation about how do you hook up to others through API’s perhaps or some other things, and then federation in terms of ways that different systems can get together.
Kevin made the point about Matt Landis’ Lync federation directory of course; all the enterprises that are associated and are signed up or indicating that they are part of Lync’s overall network. But, I think the thing that’s important here is that federation is, usually when we talk about it, people are usually thinking about collaboration with their partners or their suppliers or their customers. I think the reality is that many enterprises of course have disparate systems internally, especially when we're talking about things like PBX’s.
So, the ability to interoperate or federate even within an organization is going to become increasingly important. Again, I’m sort of reminded of the early days of email when there were all these islands around and we couldn’t get between the two of them. We have some of those same kinds of challenges, I think, in larger enterprises today. That frankly, I think, is a severe drag on some of the ways companies are using and deploying UC effectively. So, just another perspective I think to keep in mind here.
It’s a big challenge, and I think we’re going to continue to have an ongoing conflict about how open or interoperable or how federated different venders are going to want to be. Other places we’ve talked extensively about those particular challenges and the things that cause venders either to want to or not to want to do that kind of linking.
The next point I’d like to talk a little bit about is as Dave Michels’ point about (how) hybrid solutions are going to increasingly become an important issue in the future. There are lots of places that we can see that sort of thing. Art Rosenberg is probably going to talk about contact centers. Clearly the use of cloud services for remote workers or home workers in an ACD/call center environment is something that can be extremely important. Well, it’s going to happen in UC as well.
Gartner of course has a separate UCaaS report. The most recent one that I’ve seen is from December of 2011. Interestingly, there (in that report) there are no leaders. Several are close to the axis. There are only three companies that are on both that report and on the current UC Magic Quadrant: Microsoft, Siemens, and Cisco. It’s interesting, M5 is there and of course now they’re part of ShoreTel. Yet, the M5 capabilities, I understand, are not currently integrated into the ShoreTel offering.
So, even within one company where you're having both a cloud and a customer-premise offering we still haven’t quite got the integration. I think a lot more work has yet to be done in that whole area. Back to you, Marty.
Marty Parker (33:39): Thank you Don. Art Rosenberg, Don pointed to you as wanting probably to comment on contact centers, but what else would you like to comment on relative to this UC Magic Quadrant?
Art Rosenberg (33:51): Well, the Magic Quadrant – as a number of people have pointed out – it’s a question of the needs of the organization and the different groups within the organization. Then, taking it above the organization between organizations. Those are very valid perspectives of interoperability and functionality and so on because wherever people need to communicate, exchange information, etc. you don’t want any barriers regardless of organization.
I think that from the perspective that I’d like to point out, is that customers are part of an organization in the sense that the organization needs them and the customers deal with them even though they’re not internal. So, it’s like business partners in some sense but they’re a different kind of business partner – they’re buyers. I think that the technology for communicating between the different groups, between people within one group or another is going to benefit from the UC capabilities and especially as users become mobile, the need for UC increases.
If you're sitting at a desk with all your different devices and so on, it’s not as big of a problem as when you're in an environment where you can only choose particular modalities of use. This is where UC comes into play. Mobility has always been a big driver. The more that user groups are involved in mobility, the greater the value and need for UC. I would like to include the customer group as part of that because they’re increasingly going to be having access with CEBP, self-services, and so on. They’re going to be accessing information without people. But, whenever they do need people, they want that ability to click-to-contact/click-for-assistance. It’s all part of the UC capability to be able to get that assistance and the modality of choice.
Marty Parker: Great, Art – thank you very much and I think that’s really important to include customers and maybe even business partners, but especially customers in the mix. That may be why Gartner talked about openness or the ability to build UC into things like web pages and portals and so forth. That often is the way that comes forth. I think federation – as people have suggested – is also important. More and more of us are starting to find our customers or business partners out there on anything from Skype to Facebook to maybe even Jabber. We’re starting to see those kinds of connections being made.
Steve Leaden, I know you've got a lot of customers in your consulting practice who are making big investments. How do you think they’ll look at the UC Magic Quadrant and what would you like to add?
Steve Leaden (36:48): Thanks, Marty, I think it’s an interesting time for all of us as we closely monitor the Gartner report that comes out annually here. From my perspective, Gartner has once again provided excellent guidance to the industry for those competing manufactures in the UC market. I can tell you that they are really the source that many of our clients, if not all of them, at least take a look at in terms of trying to figure out who are the venders that should be bid in the process and who they should be focusing on, etc.
I also wanted to share with you, Marty, the fact that I appreciate your comments in your article including market maturity, breadth of the solution, the openness of the solution, and the financial considerations which are all part of the way an enterprise really needs to take a hard look at UC.
Interestingly too, I find that UC is really now the – for lack of a better word – the replacement, or in the hierarchy of the way telephony operates. Telephony is now a subset of the UC definition that our colleagues over at Gartner include. For example, they include voice in telephony, conferencing, messaging, presence, and IM clients, communications enabled business processes, etc. Those are all components within the UC suite. The enterprise really needs to take a hard look and say that UC in general is the larger venue that now IP telephony is comprised of in the larger suite. Interestingly too, I find that I think they’re right on point in many cases with most of the manufacturers. We closely follow Cisco, Avaya, Microsoft, Mitel, ShoreTel, NEC, Siemens, and Interactive Intelligence amongst others. I think in most cases they were right on point with a lot of the benefits as well as the cautions on each of the venders being looked at.
The other interesting point though is that there are other components that go into the UC suite, enterprises need to take a close look at, including BYOD, call center integration, the cloud and managed solutions, video – which Jon had mentioned a little bit earlier, ROI factors – Google, as one of our other colleagues mentioned, Google integration too, which, I think again they are starting to show up but not really seriously being considered.
With all that said, I wouldn’t really take a look at the Gartner report as the only resource to look at when considering an enterprise solution, but definitely as one of those resources as enterprises are making these major, multi-million dollar, multi-site, multi-endpoint decisions going forward. Thanks, Marty. Back to you.
Marty Parker (39:30): Great, Steve. That’s a really valuable perspective. I agree with you about the importance that many customers assign to the Magic Quadrant. With that, I would like to echo the compliments that many of the speakers have paid to Gartner for providing this market perspective on an annual basis, and the difficulty and challenge of putting it together and the value it provides. Thanks again to the Gartner team, Bern Elliot and Steve Blood. We really appreciate their help and their insights.
With that, thanks to all the experts for their many and diverse perspectives on this. If you have any comments on this please post them below this transcription. We would love to hear from you. Thanks again to everyone, and we’ll talk again next week on the weekly UCStrategies Industry Buzz podcast. Thank you.
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