Gartner MQ Finds Lots to Like in Unified Communications Sector


No Jitter reports Gartner's latest unified communications Magic Quadrant. The report says that to qualify, companies need to compete in three of six categories: voice and telephone; conferencing; messaging; presence and IM; device clients; and communications applications.


The writer says that Microsoft, Nortel and Alcatel-Lucent remain in the "Leader" category. Cisco, IBM and Siemens join that august group. The "Challengers" are Avaya and NEC. Interactive Intelligence was named to the "Visionary" group, and Mitel, Telware, Aastra and Oracle are in the "Niche" category. The writer's comments on the results seems well directed -- and evidence of the sector's complexity.


Cisco, one of the winners in the Gartner MQ report, took a logical step this week by linking several of its products and loosening the already nebulous distinction between UC, video conferencing and collaboration. The platform includes Cisco Unified Communications, Cisco TelePresence and the Web 2.0 Applications Platform, which includes Cisco WebEx. The platform is designed to integrate with other communications systems run by the customer.


UC offers two big selling points: It cuts costs and increases efficiency. This piece, written by Interactive Intelligence -- one of the Challengers in the Gartner MQ -- deals with the former. It suggests that UC uses less hardware to do the same job as parallel systems, the equipment that is used tends to run more efficiently and, finally, the overall move from hardware to software there is less gear to dispose of. The writer than describes UC use as a telecommuting tool. This, of course, is a more commonly discussed way in which UC helps the environment.


Saving money and improving performance are a potent combination. This piece focuses on improving the efficiency of the operation. Analysys Mason senior consultant George Robertson cites research that says coalescing voice, video and e-mail delivery across wired and wireless networks is especially attractive to young Generation Y folks entering the workplace. Indeed, Robertson says that UC is an even more valuable tool for this group than its predecessor, Generation X. Generation Y employees, he says, put a premium on collaboration. UC is a broad category that is steadily expanding. It also is a bit of a catchall categorization into which almost any communications tool can be placed. There are still big questions -- whether, for instance, the heavy lifting is best done on the network or at the endpoint -- remain. The bottom line, however, is that UC increasingly is central to the way in which organizations communicate with their increasingly dispersed and peripatetic work forces.