This Magic Quadrant evaluates vendors of enterprise UC solutions that are intended for on-premises deployment by midsize and large organizations. Its assessments of nine vendors will help application leaders find the most suitable provider and solution for their needs.
All unified communications (UC) solutions are intended principally to improve user productivity and enhance business processes that relate to communications and collaboration. Gartner defines UC solutions — equipment, software and services — as offerings that facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communications methods to achieve those aims. UC solutions integrate communications channels (media), networks and systems, as well as IT business applications and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.
UC offers the ability to significantly improve how individuals, groups and companies interact and perform. The UC solutions that enterprises deploy range from stand-alone suites from single vendors to integrated applications and platforms from multiple vendors. UC is often deployed to extend and add functionality to established communications investments.
UC solutions are used by individuals to facilitate personal communications, and by enterprises to support workgroup and collaborative communications and business workflows. Some solutions may extend UC beyond company boundaries to enhance communications between organizations, to support interactions among large public communities, or for personal communications.
UC applications are increasingly being integrated with, or offered in concert with, collaboration applications to form unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions. In some cases, they are being integrated with business applications and workflows, or are being targeted at vertical user groups.
It is useful to divide UC into six broad communication product areas:
- Telephony — This area includes fixed, mobile and soft telephony, as well as the evolution of PBXs and IP PBXs. This category includes options for voice and video that bypass traditional connectivity methods such as direct internet-based connections.
- Meeting solutions — This area includes multiparty voice (audio) conferencing, videoconferencing, web conferencing (including document- and application-sharing capabilities), and various forms of unified meeting capabilities and infrastructure.
- Messaging — This area includes email, which has become an indispensable business tool, voice mail and various approaches to unified messaging (UM).
- Presence and instant messaging (IM) — IM enables individuals to send textual and other information to individuals or groups in real time. Presence services enable individuals to see the status of other people and resources.
- Clients — Unified clients enable access to multiple communication functions from a consistent interface. They may take different forms, including thick desktop clients, thin browser clients and clients for mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets), as well as specialized clients embedded in business applications.
- Communications-enabled business processes — The ability to integrate a UC solution with other business and communications applications creates significant value for users. An example is the integration of UC with field service or purchasing applications.
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