Gartner names Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft and Siemens as 2012 UC market leaders

Mobility for UC products is becoming a key market differentiator
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Gartner has designated Avaya, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Siemens Enterprise Communications (NYSE: SI) as leaders in the unified communications (UC) market, according to the 2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications report.

Companies listed by Gartner as strong challengers include Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Huawei, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and NEC. Niche players are Aastra Technologies, Digium, Interactive Intelligence (NASDAQ: ININ), ShoreTel (NASDAQ: SHOR) and Toshiba. Mitel (NASDAQ: MITL) is listed as a visionary but with less ability to execute than the market leaders.

Gartner evaluated the companies based on their ability to execute and completeness of vision.

The research firm identified four UC characteristics that will have an important effect on the success of a UC product and the satisfaction of users: mobility, openness, cloud and broad-solution appeal.

On mobility, Gartner said that this year it is giving particular weight to support for mobile clients because it is a key differentiator. "Users increasingly expect full UC functionality across all mobile platforms and operating systems," the firm explained.

On openness, Gartner said that enterprises expect open standards and interoperability among products. "In particular, enterprises expect good-quality support for SIP, XMPP and H.323 integrations, as well as a clear longer-term commitment to inter-vendor interoperability and federation," Gartner related.

Integration of on-premise UC systems with cloud and hybrid UC services will play an important role for unified communications as a service (UCaaS) products in the future. Gartner noted that UCaaS is introducing new players into the market, such as Google.

Gartner explained that successful UC products depend on appealing to a broad audience of enterprise decision makers, such as telecom, data communications, IT and audio-visual groups, as well as business users. "Success will require advancing a full set of UC capabilities within enterprises, which will result in the displacement of those long-term incumbents that lack broad appeal," the market research firm concluded.

For more:
- see Gartner's UC report

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Article updated September 17 to correct the evaluation criteria Gartner uses in its Magic Quadrant report.