Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Signals Change in the UC Market

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Gartner released its report, “Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications”, recognized as one of the most relevant industry reports on the marketplace. Amid this report are their assessments of the biggest movers in Unified Communications (UC) for enterprises and how they come to their conclusions. The report also indicates general capabilities and areas of focus for the players that make it into the Magic Quadrant (MQ).

The summary of their report suggests that suite solutions are getting better and that there is still a need for enhancements to core capabilities to increase functionality or scale. Also, video conferencing, both desktop and mobile, is gaining momentum as an integral part of UC solutions. The increased productivity with collaboration and cost saving benefits (over travel) cannot be denied. If your business wants to integrate video conferencing into your UC strategy, you must understand what solutions will best achieve the results you want. With the Cisco suite, you have options for on-premises for video through the Jabber client, or the web through cloud-based Cisco WebEx. Offering a solution to use between desktops, videophones, mobile phones and more is good for adoption. Allowing employees to work the way they prefer enhances productivity. Cisco Jabber can be used seamlessly on the desktop and tablets and to make or receive calls on mobile devices while connected to the enterprise’s network.

Microsoft’s Skype for Business (SfB) is web conferencing that can be deployed on-premises, hybrid, or as a managed service. When bundled with Office 365 you are looking at a collaboration suite with capabilities of email, voice, IM, and presence as well as video. SfB also offers federation with outside users and partners making it attractive to some organizations. Video recording can be employed through either Jabber or SfB if necessary to satisfy compliance policies and industry regulations, such as with healthcare, finance/banking, and the legal sectors. Additionally, cloud-based collaboration services are giving on-premises UC solutions a run for the money (enter Unified Communications as a Service – UCaaS). As a result, many legacy system PBX platforms are receiving their walking papers in the form of losing support services—the death knell for any technology.

The takeaway from this report is that IT managers need to focus their sights on user analysis. Given the changing workforce and the digital divide between active employees, their affinity for mobility and differing technologies from the more entrenched workforce, makes this is crucial. Usage reporting, such as technology and device adoption will be determinants for cost saving measures. Enterprises will have to decide how to balance spending to repurpose or remove unused technologies while shoring up investments in emergent collaboration tools.

All the winners in the MQ have core UC components: telephony, conferencing, IM & Presence and a client/user interface. Cisco and Microsoft, two MQ leaders, held their position, yet Microsoft saw a slight decline. In an independent poll taken by Gartner Peer Insights, Cisco wins the telephony contest, and Microsoft edges out Cisco for IM and Presence. View the entire report here.

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Darlene Jackson is a published writer with many years of experience in digital publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her diverse assignments include stints with Chicago Public Media, The Chicago Tribune, and various print and online media and communication outlets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University.

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