Gartner bins the UC Magic Quadrant
For years now, customers and resellers in the Unified Communications (UC) community have relied on market reports like the Gartner Magic Quadrant to help them separate the leading vendors, from the challengers in the space. Though the Magic Quadrant was far from the most comprehensive overview of the sector, it offered a basic insight into some of the leading providers in the communications space, and what they could offer.
However, in January 2019, Gartner announced that the age of the UC Magic Quadrantwas coming to an end, in a brief note about their decision to “refocus” their research in 2019.
According to Gartner, as Enterprise buying patterns continue to shift in favour of cloud-based solutions for UC and CC, the Magic Quadrant for premises-based unified communications is no longer necessary. Instead, readers will need to make do with a Gartner “Market Guide” instead. The guides contain much of the same information you’d find in a Magic Quadrant, but without the Niche, Visionary, Challenger, and Leader segments, or the subsequent rankings.
Why Stop the UC Magic Quadrant Report?
In the past, many UC experts have questioned the relevancy and accuracy of the Magic Quadrant. After all, not everyone agreed with the scoring and minimum entry criteria required to enter the report in the first place. In our coverage of the 2017 UC Magic Quadrant, we pointed out that the reviews are designed specifically for big enterprises, which means it’s impossible to get a complete market assessment.
At the same time, NetScout was suing Gartner over the “unfair” modeling of the Magic Report, which they claimed was working on a “pay to play model.” In NetScout’s opinion, the only way to rank in the Magic Quadrant was to buy a good position. Perhaps the decision to eliminate the UC Magic Quadrant this year is a sign that people have finally lost confidence in the review once and for all. On the other hand, it could simply be a sign that Gartner needs to update their reports to adhere to a changing marketplace.
For instance, it would have made sense to connect the Magic Quadrants for Collaboration and Unified Communications, rather than abolishing the UC quadrant entirely. Communication and collaboration are naturally tied together in the business environment, and it would have provided an opportunity to give more coverage to a wider selection of vendors.
The UCaaS and CCaaS Reports Continue
Though it may be the end for the on-premises Unified Communication Magic Quadrant, Gartner has announced that the UCaaS and CCaaS reports will continue. However, these two reports will now be “refocused” to evaluate full-stack solution providers in the SaaS environment. This means that the only vendors to appear in the upcoming reviews will be providers who can develop, manage, and control the full unified communication and contact centre solutions offered to their customers.
To a degree, it does make sense for Gartner to focus more of its attention in these software-focused areas, as the industry continues to move towards the cloud. Today’s on-premise UC buyers rarely make purchases based on things like “completeness of vision.” Instead, their choices are often driven by things like available integrations, or familiarity with a brand.
On the other hand, there are significant differences to consider when evaluating the “ability to execute” of major UCaaS and CCaaS companies. Additionally, by focusing exclusively on vendors with complete SaaS solutions, Gartner will be able to narrow down the results of their MQs for 2019. In 2018, the UCaaS Magic Quadrant listed no less than 18 providers, compared to a typical 8 to 10 options for the UC reports.
Paving the Way for an Industry Update
Gartner’s recent announcement may be the shake-up the industry needs to start updating other low-value reports in the market that no longer provide the guidance that consumers and resellers need. Although the decision to eliminate the UC magic quadrant is a controversial one, it at least shows that Gartner is paying attention to the movements of the communication space.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see whether the suggested changes to the CCaaS and UCaaS magic quadrants deliver the results that Gartner are hoping for. There’s a risk that requiring companies to offer a complete “full-stack” solution could prove problematic, leading to additional complaints from vendors already unhappy with the way that Gartner handles its reviews.
Gartner may well exclude many of the industry innovators and pioneers responsible for driving the continued growth of the UCaaS sector, as well as carriers within the market.
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