Gartner shows Magic changes in UC market

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Gartner shows Magic changes in UC market
This article first appeared on Best in UC. What was once a portfolio has become a suite. That’s one of the major findings highlighted in Gartner’s 2011 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications. The report points out that the unified communications market has “matured significantly during the past 12 months.” The Magic Quadrant is a graphical representation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner’s analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace. While Gartner’s analysis of specific vendors gives great insight into the industry, perhaps just as meaningful is the company’s overall take on unified communications (UC) and how UC solutions are changing. For example, Gartner points out that until recently, most UC vendors sold portfolios of various communications solutions. In the last year, however, many vendors have changed this approach and developed full, integrated UC suites. As a result, the UC solutions work in a more integrated fashion and offer clients more capabilities across multiple platforms and devices. With the development of suites, the marketplace should also see:
  • Improved interoperability of all UC components
  • Centralized administration
  • Easier deployment
Gartner said it expects the UC suite to become dominant over the next two years. In addition, Gartner acknowledged the importance of cloud strategies, the increased role of consumer products, and the continued influence of mobility. The report also offered valuable market intelligence for buyers of UC solutions. Each vendor was asked to provide an estimate of the costs of two deployments: one for 1,000 subscribers and another for 10,000 subscribers. At the low end, vendor prices registered between $250 and $350 per person. On the opposite end of the scale, a deployment would cost $350 to $500 per subscriber. By the way, this is not a complete cost, since it does not include telephone handsets, installation or support. What was included, however, was a full UC suite including phone service, instant messaging, presence and conferencing. The news for vendors was not all good. Despite dramatic improvements in functionality, UC providers still must overcome adoption and usage problems that result from:
  • A slow, evolutionary approach to UC. Companies have spent a great deal of time and money on past communications solutions and their related infrastructure. This makes organizations hesitant to eviscerate existing systems that still work, even if they don’t offer high-level functionality.
  • In many cases, a UC solution requires more than new equipment. It takes organizational change and a willingness to embrace a new way of doing things.
  • In these tough economic times, companies are looking for hard return on investment, such as cost savings. In some cases, UC vendors are trying to sell their solutions based on improved productivity, better customer communications and other “soft” returns.

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