Gartner: UCaaS suppliers should provide back-office support to attract large enterprise customers

Report names ShoreTel, 8x8, Thinking Phone Networks and West as market leaders
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To attract large enterprise customers, unified communications as a service (UCaaS) firms will have to provide effective back-office support for large installations, judged Gartner in its 2012 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service North America report.

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For the first time, the report named UCaaS market leaders--ShoreTel (Nasdaq: SHOR), 8x8 (Nasdaq: EGHT), Thinking Phone Networks and West. In the 2011 report, Gartner did not identify any leaders because of the immaturity of the UCaaS market.

ShoreTel gained access to the UCaaS market through its acquisition of M5 Networks earlier this year for $168 million. In last year's report, M5 was identified as a visionary company.

The former chief of M5 and the current president of ShoreTel's cloud division, Daniel Hoffman, said ShoreTel's acquisition of M5 was key to making it into Gartner's leader quadrant. "One of reasons we sold to ShoreTel was to have the pockets and technology to lead the market in execution, so that was absolutely part of Gartner's judgment that we have the resources to be a leader," he told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.

The report said firms in the leaders' quadrant have been providing complete UCaaS products for more than a year, have customers with more than 1,000 subscribers and have more than 100,000 endpoints in service.

Three developments have characterized the UCaaS market in 2012: the emergence of branded premise-based platforms supporting UCaaS, the maturity of certain UCaaS platforms and the deployment of UCaaS on a limited scale by Fortune 1000 companies, the report explained.

For 2013, Gartner predicts two major developments: "First, UCaaS will start supporting global deployments spanning multiple regions… Second, today's Fortune 1000 UCaaS users will adopt the service across broad swaths of the organization. However, for either of these events to transpire, UCaaS suppliers must demonstrate effective backoffice toolsets that offer automated support of large installations."

The larger players in the UCaaS market--such as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T)--are better position to capitalize on the opportunities with Fortune 1000 firms because of brand recognition and existing relationships. However, the smaller players, including the firms in the leaders' quadrant, should not be counted out as potential suppliers to the large enterprises.

For more:
- check out Gartner's UCaaS magic quadrant report

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