As a follow-up to its Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications report, Gartner has come out with a report that may well be more useful than the original for folks looking to decide on a UC product.
The Critical Capabilities for Unified Communications report summarizes the capabilities of 11 UC products against 10 “critical capabilities” and rates the suitability of each product against four common use cases. The 11 products are the same ones evaluated in the 2015 Magic Quadrant for UC report.
In essence, the Critical Capabilities report puts the UC product evaluations in more context. Through the use cases approach, it gives customers a way to look at the products in a way that’s most relevant to them.
The four use cases are:
A full UCC environment with strong requirements for telephony
A full UCC environment with strong requirements for collaboration
An anchor vendor with the ability to integrate with complementary or competing vendors
A hybrid implementation to take advantage of on-premises and cloud capabilities, integrated as a common use case
Assessing Vendors in the UC Magic Quadrants
Gartner rates the suitability of each of the 11 products for each of the four use cases. In so doing, it comes up with some interesting findings.
For one, Unify OpenScape was rated among the top 3 or 4 products in each of the four use cases. Yet on the original Magic Quadrant report, Unify was in the Niche Player quadrant – albeit in the top right, close to Visionary. I suspect that’s because the criteria for the Magic Quadrant report are quite different, focusing on aspects including sales execution, market strategy and financial health. Such issues play a role in overall company viability, but not necessarily how good their UC product is. It appears to me that Unify deserves a hard look from potential UC buyers.
Cisco Business Edition 7000 was tops in three of the use case categories and third in the other (Ability to Work With Complementary Vendors). It clearly deserved its spot in the Leaders quadrant. The same goes for Mitel, which was among the top 5 in each of the use case categories.
Microsoft Skype for Business was a bit of a mixed bag. It came in second for two use cases (full UC with strong collaboration and hybrid implementatn) while finishing 8th in both the telephony requirement use case and the ability to work with complementary vendors category. It will be interesting to see if the telephony liability continues to be a factor with their push towards enterprise telephony.
Trend Toward Vendor Consolidation in UC
That whole idea of playing well with others may become less important, however, because the report says customers increasingly seek a single-vendor UC solution. The option is also becoming a more viable one, as the first “Key Finding” of the report states:
Leading unified communications vendors' suite capabilities are maturing, such that many will satisfy IT leaders' requirements to deploy single-vendor solutions spanning on-premises and cloud infrastructures.
Additional key findings include:
Desktop and mobile videoconferencing are becoming increasingly key components of UC solutions, as is the integration of desktop solutions with group video systems.
End-of-support notices for legacy PBX platforms, as well as the desire not to invest in new IP-PBX platforms, are driving interest in UC suite solutions.
A Wealth of Information on Leading UC Products
It’s worth reading well beyond those key findings, however, because there’s lots of specific data to be had for each of the products. Gartner rates each of the 11 players against each of the 10 critical capabilities, coming up with a score on a 1 to 5 scale for each category – a very useful chart for UC shoppers.
Similarly, it rates each vendor against each of the four use cases, and includes a chart that shows how the scores were derived – meaning the weight given to each critical capability under each use case. For example, telephony is weighted 40% for the strong telephony requirement but only 5% for the strong collaboration category.
The report also includes commentary on how each vendor fares in each critical category – again, a useful distillation of information. Check out the report here.