Transcript for UCStrategies Experts on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UC - 2013
Marty Parker: Hello, everyone. This is Marty Parker with UCStrategies, and I have the privilege of being the moderator for today’s podcast on the topic of the Gartner Unified Communications Magic Quadrant for 2013. Now, most of us know what a magic quadrant is. It’s Gartner’s scoring in four boxes of the vendors that they believe participate in a certain market segment. They publish dozens of them. We're talking here about unified communications. They also will do one later this fall about corporate telephony. They’ll do one later this fall about Unified Communications as a Service (ucaas). But they also do them on a wide range of other topics. They also do market scope reports for things that aren’t as complex as a magic quadrant deserves.
They end up looking at the vendors, in this case 13 vendors are categorized into this Unified Communications Magic Quadrant. You can see a link to that report by going to the post that I have up on UCStrategies and we’ll put it here on the podcast. They organized them into four quadrants based on two axes: one axis is the ability to execute and the other is completeness of vision. And if you are above the midpoint in both of those categories, you’re in what they call the Leaders’ Quadrant. If you have the ability to execute but not a complete vision so you’re in the upper left, then you’re a Challenger. If you have lots of vision but not the ability to execute, you’re in the bottom right and you’re called a Visionary. And if you are lagging in executive and vision, you’re called a Niche Player. The vendors are spread across there.
There are four vendors in this year’s Leaders section, Leaders quadrant, and those are Cisco, Microsoft, Avaya, and Siemens Enterprise Communications, and we’re going to hear more about that from some others. I’ll just say that the Gartner Magic Quadrant, for whatever industry but in our specialty here, always gets a lot of opinions. It’s been a marvelous set of posts on our website and others about what this means – some just railing Gartner, some saying they’re wrong, whatever. But the point to remember is that Chief Information Officers and their teams read these reports and they bring them in as factors in their decision-making. So you can’t avoid it, it’s part of the world.
Gartner has some bright minds; many of us know the people who do this report personally. I’ve known Bern Elliot for a couple decades. These are bright minds and even though I might quibble a little bit with them – I did last year, quibble about their not providing enough weighting on the email portion of Unified Communications. Nonetheless, I’m agreeing with their findings, in general, especially when you view it in context of their criteria. They don’t post the scoring of their criteria but they do say what the criteria are.
So it’s interesting to look at it and finally, I’ll say, before I start calling on my friends and peers here, it’s important to notice the Gartner Magic Quadrant is not a product review. It’s more of a company and capabilities review. Sure, products are part of it but they go beyond just the speeds and feeds. So like I say, it’s something that our customers look at when they’re making decisions so it’s worth talking about what it means.
With that, let me just say one more thing. First is, there wasn’t any real change from last year, no vendor changed quadrants. So okay, it’s getting pretty stable and Phil Edholm will say more about that. I found three major factors in this year’s report. One was market maturity. I mean, everybody can say, “Well, UC isn’t mature yet,” and there are reasons Gartner agrees why it’s not. But there’s not a lot of shifting around anymore; it’s stabilized, and maybe is a better word.
Second is they call out – and I agree with some vendor challenges on getting adoption by the customers, the issue of dealing with UC in the cloud both separately and as a hybrid with premise based. And what we’re going to hear a lot about today is about the channels – just not really ready to sell and install and support adoption.
And then, Gartner talks about directions for the future – user experience, mobility, which Michael Finneran constantly reminds us is happening on the cellular networks, not on the UC systems – interoperation, cloud, and solution appeal. My view is that the user experience is probably one of the most important of all of these and that customers are tending to start to consume their unified communications from the most attractive user interface, user experience, more than from the favorite vendor. So if their salespeople like communications embedded in their salesforce.com user interface – excuse me, that’s Unified Communications and that’s what that customer is going to use.
So with that, I think Don Van Doren and Dave Michels both have some comments about the scoring factors, or the Magic Quadrant structure itself. Don, what would you say about what the Magic Quadrant is or isn’t?
Don Van Doren: Thanks, Marty. You made a great point, that the Magic Quadrant really has great value in portraying what I’ll call the overall arc of an industry’s development and therefore, the strength of various vendors, but it’s not a product review. And yet, what we see quite often is that people reading this tend to immediately interpret it as “here’s the product that you ought to have.” And I think that there’s a caution about using the Magic Quadrant as a tool for just selecting a vendor for a specific enterprise project. In mature industries, that’s probably not a bad overall guideline or even maybe a checklist for vendors to talk to. But environments that are still fluid as unified communications, where you have so many different kinds of capabilities, it’s really important, I think, to get to a slightly different place. It’s a little more complicated than just “who’s in the Leaders’ Quadrant?”
In our consulting practice, I know we find that what’s really important for a successful deployment of Unified Communications and collaboration capabilities is to match the capability selected to the specific use case that belongs within the enterprise. That whole process really defines specific business requirements and then – and only then – you get to what the technology requirements are. At that point then, you’re in a position to make a selection. But as Marty said, we’re not really at that level in the Magic Quadrant. I think that sometimes that leads for companies that are in the Leaders’ Quadrant but maybe not. Because there may be some specific capabilities that other vendors can have that would more uniquely match the particular requirements of the user community.
So my only overall comment here, Marty, is it’s just to reinforce this point that it’s not a product review. It has great value in showing where the industry is headed, some of the key factors that are important. But it’s, in the end game, not the way you’d – at least by itself – select your next implementation vendor.
Marty Parker: Good perspective, Don. Thank you very much. And Dave Michels, I know you have some views, too, on how to look at this and how to maybe critique this quadrant structure.
Dave Michels: Thank you, Marty. I agree with Don; it’s not a product review. But I have trouble identifying what kind of review it really is. You’ve made some references to it being an industry review. You know, when industries are younger, they require much more vision and so you would expect the visionaries to be very strong as an immature industry, and then as it matures, less vision is necessary and it becomes much more predictable.
So I wanted to try to talk a little bit about what this is attempting to measure. And I don’t have an answer for this. It’s more of a question.
I used to be on the IT side. And as an IT manager, we looked at the Gartner Magic Quadrant and it was incredibly helpful to us. We would look at these axes of Vision and, Ability to Execute, and we wanted to pick a company that had a very strong and complete vision and had a very strong ability to execute. That made perfect sense.
Now that I’ve been more on the analyst side and I’ve been focusing on so much of what these vendors do and how they differentiate, I find it almost bewildering how you measure companies – or products – on these axes. Let’s take the first one, execution. The ability to execute inherently means that you say what you’re going to do and you do it. And if you do that over time, then you are pretty good at executing. But that’s not really what they're looking at. According to the first page, the list of what they’re going to measure for execution includes products and services, overall viability of the business, execution and pricing, pricing and negotiation, overall effectiveness of the sales channel, market responsiveness, market execution, customer experience, operations...this is a pretty broad definition of execution. They don’t really explain the weighting. They give some clues but don’t provide a lot of detail on the weighting or the scores. And so if a company was very strong with overall viability let’s say, and their stock is healthy or their investors are happy, does that outweigh potentially a weakness in their customer experience or vice versa? For the amount of weight that this report carries, it seems to be very ambiguous.
Moving over to the Vision side, vision is an extremely hard thing to compare. And even worse, Gartner doesn’t really ask the vendors about their vision. I can only speculate what’s going on here but I believe that Gartner has a clear definition of what they think the vision should be and then they ask vendors lots of questions about various aspects: “Can you do this?” “Can you do that?” And then they’re trying to create a checklist of what a vision should look like. The report talked about market understanding and says here, the vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen and understand their buyers’ wants and needs. And that point has been refuted over and over. I mean, Steve Jobs was the best at saying “don’t listen to your customers.”
Vision and market responsiveness are different things: marketing strategy, sales strategy, the product strategy, the business model is part of Vision, vertical industry strategy, innovation is part of the Vision, and geographic strategy. And I think geographic is very interesting because again, they don’t spell out how the vendors did geographically. Aastra is probably the most geographically different of the vendors on this list and they actually got kind of penalized for it.
So I just have a tough time understanding, because this report is so broad, it covers so many things, the Gartner Report is the industry’s closest thing to Consumer Reports. It compares multiple vendors and things like that so that the buyer can make an informed decision. But Consumer Reports gives you very clear definitions. They talk about resale value, they talk about reliability, they talk about speeds and feeds or performance, things like that. And Gartner doesn’t really get into that so it leaves me quite confused. And then as you guys referenced already, you look at companies like Mitel and ShoreTel, they’ve made some pretty big moves toward the cloud as their vision, and even Cisco, too. But that doesn’t seem to be part of the vision that’s allowed in here because there’s another report called UC as a Service.
So I’ll wrap it up with a point that I think Don was making, that the key benefit to a marketplace, our marketplace – is with multiple vendors. Customers can align their objectives with the vendor. And unfortunately, this report doesn’t help you do that. There’s not enough detail in there. I think it could be so much more useful if the vision and execution was a little more narrow and a little more detailed.
Marty Parker: Those are really good points, Dave, and a fabulous challenge to that. Because the challenge, I think is a thought provoking challenge. I think anybody that just picks up the quadrant and points at a dot would be well advised to listen to what you just said and read the transcription. Because it says, “Wait a minute. Stop and look at these criteria and think about it.” The thing I wish I had was the actual scoring. You referenced Consumer Reports. At least I get those what are called Harvey Balls, I get the little circles filled in to certain degrees. If I actually had the scoring for every vendor on every one of those criteria, I might have a better view of it, right?
Dave Michels: Absolutely.
Marty Parker: Maybe we have to go back to Gartner and say, “next time you’ve got to put Harvey Balls on your report.” So Phil, you wrote a very nice piece on UCStrategies carrying forth this question of is it a mature industry or not, and what does all this mean and how do the ratings represent the industry. Say more.
Phil Edholm: Yes, absolutely. It’s interesting. I first off have to say that I’m really happy to be on this side of the table and not the other side, having been a number of years in the vendor organization. This was always one of those things that you waited for to see what was going to happen, what your position was going to be. There is, by the way, there is also a bit of a pre-publication and opportunity to come back and comment and try to get your position adjusted. For all the vendors, it’s a big deal because I think we do give it a lot of weight.
Go need to go back and just make one comment before I start on the other end on Dave’s comment, which I think is very appropriate. If you think about this just as a future from where they are today going forward, their vision and for the future and their ability to execute that vision, that really decouples this report from their current capability. And I think that’s an important thing to always remember.
But having said that, I mean, if you look for a moment at the chart – and actually, I generated some graphs for my own use that allowed me to see this – is you’ll actually see that in the past three years, really 2011, 2012, 2013, the movement has been really very minimal. With the exception of a very quick timeframe where Alcatel-Lucent moved up into the Leader Quadrant for a year and then was moved back. The Leader Quadrant really has not changed. It’s been pretty much the same set of four companies. In fact, what’s interesting is the Visionary Quadrant has only had one company in it and that has not changed. I made the comment it maybe should be called the Mitel Quadrant because that’s the only company in that Visionary Quadrant.
What’s very interesting is that while those companies move around a little bit, there doesn’t seem to be a real correlation between the movement necessarily and things. For example, between 2011 and 2012, Siemens made a fairly major move to the right in terms of being a visionary. They did not make a move between 2012 and 2013 even though within the report, Project Ansible is noted. And one would think that Project Ansible, which represents a major announcement from Siemens of what a lot of us have heralded as a very interesting vision, was made during the timeframe that should’ve been considered within the report yet it didn’t seem to have any motion. So therefore, that would say that Siemens’ completeness of vision last year and this year was essentially the same.
So I think there are some very interesting questions there around those kinds of points and the lack of movement which, to me, indicates that while I don’t think we’re a mature industry yet in terms of our capabilities, I would argue that we are becoming more and more of a mature industry in terms of the status of the companies within the industry.
I don’t have a huge expectation that things are going to change, with potentially the exception of Mitel being on the track it’s on. If they continue to have the same kind of increase over the next year that they had as an average in the last two years, Mitel actually would move up into the Leader Quadrant.
The other thing that I think is interesting when you look at this is to realize that any report like this has a margin of error. Typically, it’s plus or minus two or plus or minus four percent. What’s interesting about the Gartner Magic Quadrant is we tend to take these dots as being absolute. But the reality is if you make the dots into a 5 percent, which is a plus or minus 2.5 percent variance, you actually see some very interesting factors. For example, in terms of vision, Cisco, Microsoft, and Siemens all essentially are rated within that degree of error, margin of error, as having equivalently the same vision. Similarly, when you start looking at execution, you realize that across the different parts of the report, execution really is not that differentiated.
And then I think my final comment on this, the one thing that I am actually mystified by is the fact that all the leaders are really under 75 percent of the way to the right side of the chart in Vision. And in fact, Microsoft and Cisco are at only 75 percent in terms of their ability to execute. On the Vision side, what you don’t see is what are the vision elements that are missing from these companies’ visions that caused them to be rated at 75 percent? When I was in school, 75 percent was a pretty solid C grade, which says that the best we’re rating our vendors is C.
On the Ability to Execute, if you look at Microsoft, for example, Microsoft actually was reduced in their ability to execute between 2012 and 2013. And I wonder what this reflects. Does it reflect the lack of adoption of Lync, which we all know to be staggeringly high? Does it represent the lack of integration of Skype and Lync? What is exactly the reason for that? And when you look at Cisco and Microsoft together, companies that literally have – as I say in the blog post – both more money than the State of California, why do we think they only have C grade level at the Potential to Execute?
So I think that there’s probably some real interesting questions there that I really wish Gartner would talk to more. But overall, I think the interesting thing about this is it no longer really represents as much a view into the industry because it isn’t changing nearly as much. Anyway, back to you. Thanks.
Marty Parker: Yeah, thanks, Phil, that’s great. I mean, I like that C grade question or the question of what is 100%. What would perfection be on this scale? That's a good question to keep in mind.
But one thing that Gartner did say about execution all the way through – and we’ve heard it already – is that they were criticizing the vendors that they had to get adoption of these new technologies, that the labs had been doing fabulous work, hey, great. But if the people aren’t consuming that work, then it’s all for naught. And so Joseph Williams has some comments on that and I’m going to ask Clark Richter a little bit later also to talk specifically about this issue of the go-to-market, the channel capacities of the vendors. Gartner was pretty direct in many of their comments. Joseph, what do you think of this? Has this become the crux of the industry’s ability to grow, the ability to deliver?
Joseph Williams: Well, I think Gartner got it right here. I think there are substantial issues with the channel model that UC vendors have taken into market. There are clearly… Cisco, for example, is doing some marvelous things with the telecommunications companies in terms of using them as a way to get into the enterprise market. Microsoft is using its partner channel. But beyond those two players, the channel models are modest at best. And even with Cisco and Microsoft, both of them really struggle with what their channel model looks like for the cloud. Neither model is very effective.
So I think what Gartner’s doing here is to highlight the fact that although on the science side the vendors are coming out with good products, on the selling side, they really are falling well short of what needs to be in place. So I think that was a good call-out by Gartner.
Marty Parker: Any suggestions? I think you said you’re about to post a couple blogs. So, are you going to give the industry some marching orders here?
Joseph Williams: Not to give away too much of the blog, but I think there’s not been a lot of attention paid to how to ensure that the channel partners know how to sell this product. And UC is not an, “I’m going to sell it and it gets deployed in a day” type of an outcome. It actually, in many cases, takes two, three, four, five years to get from initial acceptance of the concept of UC all the way through to a full deployment. So that requires staying power. It requires a vision that is more than just telephony. I mean, a lot of the UC product channel strategy talks about at a high level, “Hey, we have this vision of UC,” and then what they actually incentivize their channel to do is to sell voice or to sell video or to sell some component of that. But there’s rarely a unified side to the channel strategy in terms of what’s coming into market.
I’ll take an easy one. Microsoft with Lync, what they’re trying to do is to take a software approach to unified communications and it tightly integrates with Office and SharePoint and some other kinds of things. But the channel strategy in terms of getting third party developers, in terms of getting major channel partners to do much is really more around licensing and then letting them worry about the deployment and not providing kind of a long-term view of what that looks like. And Cisco, in many ways, does the same thing. And I’m very concerned about what Siemens, Avaya, and the others are doing because it’s almost as though they are not investing in their channel. It’s almost as though what they’re saying is, “Here’s the product and...go with God.”
Marty Parker: Well, those are really important points. Those are really important points. I once heard a channel leader at one company remind me us that salespeople are coin-operated. But I think they can be idea-operated and vision-operated, too. So I think you bring to mind the word “roadmap,” which is often a term used with Unified Communications so you can have this multi-year experience, as you suggest. I’m looking forward to those blog posts. Do you want to say more, Joseph, about this at this point?
Joseph Williams: Well, the other thing I would say – you know, everybody can pick apart Gartner because any kind of model has shortcomings as well as flaws – but I think the value of what they do is it stimulates conversation. And I think a responsible CIO is not going to look at who is in the upper side of the quadrant. That’s what the sales guys are going to focus on. But the responsible CIO or his or her staff is going to look at who are the players. And the players, it’s not an ABC thing. It’s really the people who are in the upper right hand quadrant, these are people who we probably should be talking to if what we want to do is adopt a mature product with some kind of a mature vision. And I don’t think it’s really designed to – and it shouldn’t be misrepresented as kind of a best bet on the market. This is really more of a “here’s who you should consider playing with.” And I think by and large, they got it right and I think by and large, we can quibble about the stack ranking but this just seems to be a good representation, I think, of where most of us would say the industry’s really at. I’m happy to see if the others disagree with that.
Marty Parker: Let’s see what others have to say. So Roberta, Joseph has raised this question, that it’s dangerous if the market runs on sales transactions instead of multiyear visions. I know that you and the Fox Group that you head in Canada there have a really good track record of developing capabilities for customers over time. What would you say about that idea? Or what else would you say about this?
Roberta J. Fox: Oh, sure. Thanks, Marty. You know, what’s interesting about listening to all of my fellow UC experts’ feedback combined with the customers, I do find I agree. And I find it surprising, though, how much emphasis they place on the position when they're looking at who to invite for the RFP acquisitions. And one of the things I challenge my channel peers on the call is okay, you guys say that they’re scoring the channel and the company direction and not so much the product. But what Gartner doesn’t seem to do is provide channel insight for the people to actually successfully design, configure, and support – close and near and dear to my heart, support, the products.
So as all of us know from our respective viewpoints and our own scars and experiences, it’s one thing to have great products and software but it’s another to make it happen successfully. So I think it would be really interesting to see how Gartner can do that and I guess particularly based on our early adopter client projects. So they’re not the same as what the factors that the clients are looking at but that’s probably a different future podcast.
But I’ve got a suggestion. It would be really, really interesting for Gartner to take the companies in the quadrants, and maybe 2014, add scoring and analysis for the channels. So let’s see a blowout of the ones for Cisco and Microsoft or whatever and see where their channels place within those quadrants, and that would be an interesting report for all of us to read and comment on. So I’ll turn it back to you, Marty.
Marty Parker: That’s a great idea. That’s a great idea, Roberta, and actually, Gartner publishes side commentary about the criteria for unified communications. I mean, I’ll certainly pass your idea on. You can talk to them directly, of course, but let’s tell them we’d like to see a report on channels. That’d be cool.
Roberta J. Fox: One other part I forgot to mention, though, is also it sort of gives it at a global level and so companies that are global customers, they assume that those scores would apply for all their countries they do business in. And that’s not even the case because some of those people don’t even serve Canada or other parts of Europe at all. So where’s the geographical spin, so that’s my other suggestion.
Marty Parker: Yes, Gartner has a few comments on those companies that have major geographic footprint questions like on a continental level but not much on a country level, you’re right. Clark, do you want to add more along this topic of getting it to market, helping the customers adopt?
Clark Richter: Yeah, I would. I just kind of wonder, I resound some of Joseph’s and Roberta’s comments. But I’m more specifically talking to the leadership and the ability to execute obviously carries with it some implications on the vendor channels that they’re going to market with. And I think it’s noteworthy that the study only really talks positively about Cisco and Microsoft in terms of the channel. Granted, they’re further along in their ability to execute. They also happen to be the largest and the most financially sound companies in the quadrant. But nonetheless, the other thing to keep in mind, this is an enterprise study. It’s easy to think of everybody in terms of this side but it’s focused on the enterprise market. And how you define that, I guess, is up to different definitions. But the larger you get in enterprises, the more the systems integrators and service providers tend to dominate that sector in terms of a channel. And some people don’t really think of that traditionally as a channel but they tend to be very ingrained in those types of large organizations more so than traditional VARs.
So if you look at and compare Avaya to Cisco and look at their partner programs, Avaya has four systems integrators and service providers listed on their website as their partners. Cisco literally has hundreds. So I think that’s a big portion of what you can attribute that leadership to is the channels that they’re working with and the models that they’ve developed to support them.
I think that the takeaway and the challenge for the other companies if is they want to move up and build a comparable channel model, specifically for the SIs and service providers, that’s their quickest way into the enterprise market space. Because if they’re not working with those types of companies, oftentimes they won’t even have a seat at the table when it comes to looking at these types of technologies because they’re so ingrained in those types of end user accounts.
Marty Parker: That’s a very important point. Thank you for reminding us this is about the enterprise market and that these very large systems integrators, in fact, have a major effect on this market. As we have seen here at UCStrategies, Hewlett Packard and Dimension Data are both companies that are in that category – large, essentially global companies working on adoption and system integration. So it will be interesting to see. I know IBM has a major arm in that regard. Microsoft works with many partners, as well as having Microsoft consulting services. So it’s a very important point, Clark, and let’s develop that as time goes by here.
Let’s go back to then making sure that the customers can accept this. Art, I think you had something you wanted to jump in here and suggest about adoption.
Art Rosenberg: Yeah, I used to joke around and say, “If I get you the technology for free, it’s integrated and ready to go, would you know what to do with it?”
Marty Parker: That’s a good idea – maybe free would change the Magic Quadrant.
Art Rosenberg: Not really, because people, just don’t want things that they don’t know what to do with hanging around their necks. So the issue has to do with what was mentioned earlier about adoption and the end users involved, which leads us to the use cases, which could be different in different vertical markets and different companies. And also, that ties you into which end users are involved with those use cases.
So if you start from the top instead of from the bottom, you’ll know what you could do with it or what you want it for. And I think that’s where we’re missing the boat. Everybody’s aiming at starting with the bottom – let’s talk to IT, let’s show them how they could save money. They don’t know what to do with it once they have it. And if they haven’t gotten that taken care of, everybody’s in trouble. So that’s what’s slowing the market down. They have to take it from the top.
Marty Parker: I agree with you, Art. I mean, obviously, you know Unicomm Consulting believes this. I know Roberta and the Fox Group do. I think Steve Leaden and Leaden & Associates, as consultants, are right in the same vein, aren’t you, Steve?
Steve Leaden: Yeah, absolutely, Marty. I took away a couple of observations after reading the report, and I can tell you this. Every one of our enterprise customers – and I applaud Gartner for really always taking a stand here and having an opinion about the market because it really, in some cases, is even a cornerstone for a baseline for evaluation. It’s a very, very highly regarded document. We as UCStrategies Experts obviously review it and comment on it, etc.
A couple of comments. Right at the beginning of the report, it states that the definition of UC is to improve user productivity and enhance business processes, which I applaud them because it’s nearly identical to UCStrategies’ definition, communications integrated to optimize business processes. So we obviously are very much on the same page.
The other thing, though, I want to make clear, is that this report is on Unified Communications. It’s not about telephony and it’s not about the cloud, specifically. Those are separate reports that also, if any kind of client is looking at the cloud or looking at any kind of telephony as part of their UC implementation as a subset, they really should be taking into account both the strategies that Gartner has, as well as the Magic Quadrants in those specific areas because they can vary significantly from this particular report.
What I see also in this particular report compared to last year’s, and I’ll just read it for you, that the stakes for the vendors are exceedingly high – and this is where it changed this year – and sometimes existential. So obviously, we’ve gotten to the point where the stakes are so competitive and the market is just so competitive. I mean, I can tell you that when we’re evaluating vendors, there are no laggards any longer. Everybody has their A game on through every evaluation that we go through. So I have seen a shift there.
And it’s interesting. The stakes for enterprise users are also high and it expands on it saying “due to cost, visibility, and business impact.” So they have actually expanded on the visibility on that particular piece since last year.
Really, and again, the cloud’s a little bit separate. I can tell you – and this is part of where that UC maturity takes off and where it’s, so to speak, not really taken off to the extent that we all had hoped, to Phil's earlier point. And that is I think it’s just very simple. And that is, the stake in the ground where a voice VAR has their roots is in telephony. And then when you get to a data VAR who was adopted into the UC space, their roots are in the data space. So now it becomes a matter of them getting outside their comfort level of their core competencies and learning a new space that really gets them into an area where they can provide a value add that they weren’t able to provide earlier.
Marty Parker: A very interesting point you make there about the existential word. Yes, that’s new in this year’s report and I think it may also reflect that Gartner, I’d say, more extensively than last year, is commenting on financial concerns with many of the vendors. So it may well be that those who cannot achieve the adoption that Gartner’s talking about, which is then reflected by revenues and products and services, that those who are not able to achieve the adoption that reflects in revenues and services, they may have the problem of not existing in this market segment.
But then I’m going to bring out one more flavor that several of you have touched on and that Michael Finneran and I have been talking about on the side. One of the things that The Innovator’s Dilemma, a fabulous book about new technologies, makes the point of is you should always be looking over your shoulder. And over the shoulder is this UC-as-a-Service. It’s funny, the Leaders Quadrant or that quadrant has a number of names that don’t even show up in the UC on premise quadrant. So hmm, I wonder if people are going to come out of the cloud and start dipping into some of this large enterprise business opportunity. And more importantly, it looks like maybe mobile devices and mobile apps might be the place that comes from.
So Michael has been commenting for some time that people aren’t necessarily using the UC mobile clients from all these fabulous vendors. They’re using the clients that are coming off the carriers. What would you say, Michael, about whether the Gartner Magic Quadrant leaders ought to be smiling or looking over their shoulder?
Michael Finneran: I think looking over their shoulder, Marty. But first, I agree with what many of the speakers have said thus far, which is Gartner does a great job at what they do. As Steve Leaden said, all of my clients use them. They don’t take them as gospel but certainly, Gartner is one of the voices they listen to in an evaluation. But the one point that really did throw me off was that once again, Gartner’s identifying mobility as one of the five characteristics important for success in the UC market. I don’t get it. The user uptake of those mobile clients, as you indicated, is close to nil. How important can mobility be if nobody’s using it? I mean, the mobile everyone uses is simultaneous ring. But everyone has that so basically all the UC vendors are equal. When it comes to the client, it’s an RFP check-off and a fun demo. But really, the mobility that the people use are coming from their mobile devices, the native interface, or other productivity apps they put on there.
So I think with regards to mobility, it’s time for Gartner to get real here. Mobility is important, but the UC vendors simply aren’t in it. The UC vendors really are delusional here and I’m afraid Gartner’s taking them at their word on this mobility stuff. They’re just not players. They should be but certainly, they haven’t shown us anything on that front as yet. Back to you, Marty.
Marty Parker: Yeah, Michael, always a good point. If you’re not getting the adoption, if you’re not getting the traction through the channel vendors, then you probably want to be looking over your shoulder. And that’s back to the existential point that Steve brought out. So thanks to all my friends and peers here at UCStrategies. I think it’s been a very interesting discussion. Hopefully we’ve helped our readers and our listeners have discussion points that they can bring up in their own internal conversations about the UC Magic Quadrant and perhaps some of our many UCStrategies participants from the channel community can take some of these ideas and use them to shape their initiatives and fuel their growth. That would be our desire and our hope for them.
Thanks everyone for the time today and that will wrap up another fine podcast.