Unified Communications MQ Selection Criteria for 2003

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1 Decision Framework, B. Elliot Research Note 22 January 2003 Unified Communications MQ Selection Criteria for 2003 Unified communications enable enterprises to control their communication options, leveraging them to achieve business objectives. Our Magic Quadrant criteria will assist in unified communications vendor selection. Core Topic Enterprise Networking: Voice Applications Key Issue How will convergence influence voice and call processing applications through the five-year planning period? Business communication demands are increasing, and the technology options to meet those demands are multiplying rapidly. Enterprises must find more-effective ways to properly leverage and manage their communications or risk being buried beneath them. Unified communications (UC) provides methods for accomplishing this. UC products enhance enterprise productivity by enabling and facilitating the user's management of enterprise communication systems and the integration of these systems with business processes. UC is accomplished through convergence of the physical communication channels, networks, devices and systems, as well as through consolidation of controls over them. UC systems may be made up of a stand-alone product suite or a portfolio of integrated applications and platforms. Although these tools assist individuals in managing their own productivity, their longer-term benefit is to enable enterprise to more quickly and effectively manage and complete business processes that involve human communications. (See "IT's Business Value Can Be Determined" for information on what business processes may require UC, and "Start Planning Now for the Real-Time Enterprise" for background on the importance of rapid communications within these processes.) Many vendors provide parts of a UC portfolio. However, to be included in the Gartner Unified Communications Magic Quadrant, a vendor must possess these qualities: A UC product portfolio must support unified messaging as well as "near-real-time" and "real-time" communications channels. Gartner Reproduction of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The reader assumes sole responsibility for the selection of these materials to achieve its intended results. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

2 Products must be part of an integrated and consolidated suite or portfolio that is intended for deployment at the enterprise's premises (as oppose to products targeted to service providers or the consumer market). Vendors must have measurable market share in their core communications business area and must demonstrate leadership in the emerging UC area. Vendors that we believe currently meet these criteria include: Alcatel ( Avaya ( Captaris ( Cisco Systems ( IBM Lotus ( Interactive Intelligence ( Microsoft ( Nortel Networks ( Siemens ( UC Core Components Portfolio Criteria A UC components portfolio should include these criteria: Contact Management and Control Support Contact routing Contact escalation, including "find me, follow me" Presence information Self, departmental and default contact routing configuration options Business rules and policy-based routing Flexible reporting options Integration with business performance indicators Channels and Networks Real-time voice (Pulse Code Modulation, voice over IP and wireless) Real-time data (Web, instant messaging) Near-real-time (Short Message Service, paging and personal digital assistants) 22 January

3 Unified messaging ( , voice mail and fax) Access Devices and Methods Desktop Mobile Cross-channel access Speech recognition/text to speech Cross-channel or device notifications Application Access Personal information manager (PIM) applications: calendar, scheduling and directory Telephony: soft phone, conferencing and support for Pulse Code Modulation and IP switches Business process applications: database management system, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning Usability User recipient/destination User sender/origin Managers and supervisors System/network administrators Developers User and technical support Integrators Architecture Security, reliability and scalability of platform, systems and applications Technical support Platform choices (for example, Java and.net), reliability and scalability Ability to interoperate with legacy telephony and messaging equipment and systems Flexibility to operate with multiple groupware environments (for example, Exchange and Domino) 22 January

4 System component integration capabilities (first- and thirdparty components) The core UC portfolio criteria are based on allowing enterprises to manage multiple communication channels and to integrate these channels with business processes and functions. Today, vendors and enterprises are largely focused on providing new technology for communication channels and networks, like voice over IP and instant messaging (IM), or they are concentrating on increasing the capacity and reliability of contact technologies like unified messaging and wireless communications. However, enterprises will be unable to efficiently harness these new communication technologies if they are each implemented as independent contact "silos." Communications is central to many, if not all, enterprises business processes; leading UC products enable enterprises to better integrate the communication channels with each other, the underlying business processes and business activity monitoring. The contact management and control support criteria address the most-critical business requirements. Individuals and enterprises must be able to route and manage communications to meet their needs. This applies to incoming and outgoing contact requests, such as and phone calls, as well as to incoming alerts and messages from applications, such as calendar reminders, system failure alerts or overdue customer shipments. The channels and networks criteria and the access devices and methods criteria relate to how well specific interaction modes are supported. Successful vendors will support multiple modes directly on their own equipment, as well as on third-party systems. For instance, most vendors do not offer both IM and real-time voice products, such as private branch exchanges. Application access criteria enable the direct incorporation of communications into business processes. Today, a range of channels and devices provide access to common PIM functions, such as calendars. This type of integration will increasingly be extended to telephony applications and business processes. The usability and architecture criteria are related. However, we treat usability separately, because it is critical to overall solution success, and because there are a wide range of needs to address. Vendors must continuously work to improve their usability while they simultaneously add functionality. Lessobvious areas requiring ease of use include the maintenance of rules databases and the support for single-point administration and single sign-on. Architecture criteria relate to the moregeneral platform capabilities. Currently, many vendors are focused on increasing the scalability of their solutions. Some 22 January

5 components scale well to 50,000 users, while others have trouble supporting 2,000 users. Additional evaluation criteria that are considered when completing a product evaluation include: Cost: Initial system and component acquisition costs, as well as ongoing operating and support services costs. Sales, Distribution, Service and Support: Customer, professional, and hosting services; ability to deliver complete solutions. References: Existing base of satisfied customers. Corporate Viability: Financial, organizational and marketing strength. Acronym Key IM Instant messaging PIM Personal information manager UC Unified communications Bottom Line: Unifying communications to better perform business processes is a critical competitive issue. Vendor products must be evaluated in terms of their ability to improve the enterprise's ability to achieve this business objective. 22 January

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