Gartner recently released its 2014 Magic Quadrant report, complete with the usual shifting of a few names from one quadrant to another. While that’s always somewhat interesting, what jumped out at me was this first line in the “Context” section:
2014 is the first year in which North American MNCs [multi-national corporations] should consider UCaaS as a mainstream, viable alternative for UC deployment.
Now that is indeed some juicy context. It basically says, if UCaaS is good enough for MNCs, then it’s good enough for the average schmo enterprise or SMB (although I’m sure Gartner would never use the word schmo).
You can see who’s in what quadrant for yourself in the graphic, or download the report here, courtesy of West IP Communications (in exchange for some of your contact info). But frankly I found the context tidbits more interesting.
Global UCaaS is Viable and Large Enterprises Like Brand Names
UCaaS is now viable for MNCs because multiple providers support North America, Europe and Asia/Pacific (with more expected next year) and, to some extent, Latin America. Of course, due diligence is required to ensure the provider covers the specific areas you need.
Larger enterprises, particularly those with more than 5,000 employees, tend to prefer the “branded” UCaaS solutions from Cisco, Microsoft and Google, Gartner says. As with its Magic Quadrant report on premise-based UC solutions released in August, Gartner had particular affinity for Microsoft Lync. “UCaaS market interest with Microsoft Lync picked up substantially in 2014, with the belief that Lync UCaaS telephony is ‘good enough,’ given Lync's strengths in IM, presence, mobility, Web conferencing and ease of use,” Gartner says. Telephony is a sticking point for Lync, though, as Gartner notes it’s only available via partnerships with other providers, such as CSC, HP, Orange and Arkadin. Seems like a rather big hole to me.
On the other hand, enterprises looking for a strong voice offering are “the major adopters” of Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), Gartner says, and demand is picking up for providers that package HCS with a contact center solution. The Jabber client, however, is a drag on HCS, “especially when compared to the Microsoft Lync client,” Gartner says, but notes, “We may see improved acceptance of the Cisco Jabber client now that it is easier to provision and use on mobile devices."
All-Mobile UCaaS is Picking Up Steam
Gartner also identified four key trends going on with respect to UCaaS, namely:
Improved customer service, which Gartner attributes to overall market maturity
Fuller UC adoption
Channel expansions, as providers look to channel partners to help them gain market share
Mobile-only was the biggest trend and is an interesting one. As Gartner says:
There are now isolated cases in which an entire company will not procure a hard phone and, instead, will rely solely on wireless and softphones. This situation, however, is more the exception than the rule. More often than not, it will be a certain percentage of employees, or perhaps a certain business function (for example, sales), which does not procure a hard phone. Lync UCaaS deployments are noted for having a disproportionate number of mobile-only deployments.
Younger employees (meaning those under 40) and those in verticals such as high tech, real estate and entertainment are more likely go to all-mobile. All of that makes sense, as folks who fit those criteria essentially live on their phones.
The all-mobile phenomenon will only pick up steam as carriers adopt VoLTE, which promises to deliver higher quality voice and easier integration of UC apps.
Lots of New Entries to Gartner 2014 UCaaS Magic Quadrant
As for the Quadrant entries, quite a few of the names are new this year, specifically: Arkadin, HP, iCore, RingCentral, Star2Star Communications, Telefonica and Telesphere.
Only two were dropped, Broadview Networks and Evolve IP. Gartner doesn’t say why but I suspect it’s because Broadview doesn’t offer all of the usual UC services. Evolve was a victim of a new requirement for “panregional” UCaaS support, which requires the provider service companies headquartered overseas. Don Mennig, Sr. VP of marketing for the firm, told me via email that Evolve IP does offer service to 55 countries, but it does not currently service companies headquartered outside the U.S. As a result, the company proactively withdrew itself from consideration.
Mennig also notes that Gartner is working on a separate report focusing on North American UCaaS providers. We’ll be keeping an eye out for that.