22 Oct Exploring the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS 2021
In the communication landscape, there are few reports with more clout than the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Every year, Gartner assesses the top-performing companies in unified communications and contact centre as a service technology. Competing brands are measured by their ability to execute, and completeness of vision in their chosen area.
This year (2021), the UCaaS Magic Quadrant was released on the 20th of October, along with a few handy insights from the Gartner analysts. The report suggests that the communication landscape as we know it is about to evolve. Indeed, around 75% of enterprise users around the world won’t be using a desk phone by 2024, according to Gartner. The analyst also predicts around 15% of companies will be reliant solely on cloud office suites from companies like Google and Microsoft by 2022.
While it’s fair to say the Gartner Magic Quadrant can only give a fragmented view of the Unified Communication as a Service environment, it can be a helpful tool when you’re trying to figure out which vendors you want to work with.
The UCaaS Niche Players
All “Magic Quadrant” reports from Gartner divide their applicants into four segments. The top right is the most sought-after segment, while the other quarters represent a company with a specific strength in one area. The “niche” players are still in the early stages of making their mark on the industry.
This year’s niche companies are:
A company offering a combination of messaging, mobility, and telephony through the Office Suite service, Windstream is particularly popular among the small business market in the United States. The company has been evolving rapidly in recent years and has begun to stand out based on its unique approach to customer service. The “We Will” promotion, for instance, provides users with a 100% SLA guarantee if they’re using the Windstream SD-WAN.
Gartner commended Wildix for its impressive country-level PTSN replacement service, which it delivers through a selection of reputable channel partners. Currently the smallest UCaaS vendor on the Gartner MQ list, Wildix is gradually paving the way for growth, with WebRTC supported tools that make accessing high-quality technology easier for brands. To thrive in the years to come, Wildix will need to spend more on its marketing and branding strategies.
Vonage appeared on the Magic Quadrant for UCaaS in 2020 and remains within the niche players category today. The VBC or Vonage Business Communications platform receives consistently good feedback from its users, and Gartner commended its easy-to-use interface. This year, Gartner also acknowledge Vonage’s expansion over the last twelve months. However, for the time being, the company is still missing some parts of a truly “international” service delivery.
The first year for Sangoma to receive a position in the UCaaS Magic Quadrant, the company appeared on the report this year following the acquisition of Star2Star. The newly created company offers UCaaS in the form of meetings, telephony, contact centre tools, SD-WAN, trunking, messaging, and even access control. Sangoma also offers CPaaS functionality to help companies build a more customised solution for communications. Sangoma will need to improve its global presence to move up in the rankings next year.
With both Meetings and Talk technology to offer UCaaS companies, Dialpad provides valuable communication solutions for companies across Asia and the US. The brand announced a partnership with T-Mobile earlier in 2021 and has since begun to grow significantly. T-Mobile also announced a new collaboration offering enabled by Dialpad’s technology. Though the acquisition of Highfive has helped Dialpad to develop significantly, it still hasn’t moved out of the niche players space.
The UCaaS Visionaries
As mentioned above, Gartner measures the performance of companies for it’s Magic Quadrant Reports on completeness of vision, and ability to execute. Visionaries demonstrate exceptional vision and often innovative products but lack some ability to execute.
The only visionary to appear on the Magic Quadrant for UCaaS 2021, Fuze earned it’s title with a powerful UCaaS strategy, particularly well-suited to companies with more than 500 users, and companies with a range of geographies to serve. Gartner commended Fuze for its ability to focus on specific verticals and deliver excellent customer service but suggested that SMBs and smaller brands might find a better option than Fuze on the market.
The UCaaS Challengers
As you might expect, the “challengers” on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS are the companies quickly making their way towards the leadership position. These companies have fantastic ability to execute, which puts them in a great place to start encroaching on the market pioneers. However, they may need to improve their vision if they want to nab a top spot.
The UC offering from Mitel, MiCloud, provides messaging and telephony in an easy-to-use ecosystem. The technology is available to purchase alongside MiTeam meetings, which uses Amazon Chime technology to bring teams together for collaboration. Mitel focuses heavily on serving the SMB market and earns a lot of positive feedback for its customer service and simple migration strategies. Unfortunately, Mitel’s service offering isn’t the most innovative in the industry.
Known for solotions like GoToConnect, GoToWebinar, and GoToMeeting, the GoTo brand offers a relatively vast selection of products for companies interested in updating their UCaaS strategy. According to Gartner, the solution is fantastic for organisations in search of convenient bundled services that go beyond the basics of UC. GoTo can offer excellent support, training, and events assistance too. However, the company still needs to expand more on a global level.
The UCaaS offering from Google is a combination of Google Voice, Google Meet, and Google Chat – all functionalities within the Workspace platform, which was previously G-Suite. Gartner noted that the Google ecosystem is particularly popular for its ease of use, and access to advanced features, like the Jamboard technology for whiteboarding. However, the telephony capabilities of Google are still somewhat simplistic, as are the video streams in conferences with a 720p resolution.
The UCaaS Leaders
Finally, we come to the leaders in the UCaaS Magic Quadrant. These are the companies considered by Gartner to be the most impressive options for unified communications currently available. Delivering sensational completeness of vision and ability to execute, the leaders for 2021’s UCaaS MQ include:
One of the most popular UCaaS platforms in the world by far, Zoom completed its UC offering when Zoom Phone launched in 2019. According to Gartner, no provider has grown as quickly as Zoom in the last year outside of Microsoft, and the company has a fantastic ability to deliver results through bundled packages of telephony, chat, and meetings. Gartner did note that Zoom is sometimes overlooked in specialised environment, but the company has a lot of potential.
A clear market leader in the UCaaS communication space, RingCentral offers the “MVP” solution for customers today: standing for Message, Video, and Phone. The company also powers the UCaaS technology of a range of other companies like Unify, ALE, and Avaya. Gartner praised RingCentral’s investment in video technology over the last year, which has brought it closer in line with Microsoft, Zoom and Cisco.
Microsoft has been perhaps the most talked-about UCaaS provider of the last couple of years. There are now more than 250 million monthly active users on Teams, and many companies rely on the technology for business communication and collaboration. Gartner acknowledged that the adoption of Teams in the UC environment has been more significant than adoption for every other provider by significant amount. Microsoft also has a range of fantastic tools to offer companies as all sizes, but Gartner did say the Teams environment isn’t as “unified” as other offerings.
A regular presence in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS, Cisco is once again returning for 2021 with the Cisco Webex ecosystem for telephony, meetings, collaboration, events and messaging. There’s also a new contact centre solution too. Gartner said that in 2021, Cisco has invested significant amounts of cash into R&D, helping the pace of innovation for the brand to accelerate. Gartner also highlighted the strong channel partner ecosystem of Cisco as a top differentiator. Unfortunately, the analyst also felt Cisco was one of the later arrivals in the UCaaS space, which may have left it trailing behind competitors.
With Experience Communications as a Service, or the “XCaaS” offering, 8×8 is offering today’s business leaders an incredible combination of UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS in one package. The all-in-one approach to innovative communications caught the attention of Gartner, as did the company’s geographically diverse marketplace. 8×8 received praise for its Microsoft Teams integration, but pointed out that the customer service satisfaction levels for the brand had been somewhat inconsistent over the last year.
What Changed for 2021?
The UCaaS 2021 report is very similar to the 2020 report from last year, with many of the providers staying in the same positions. ALE, or Alcatel Lucent Enterprise has been dropped from the Magic Quadrant entirely, perhaps because the company is using RingCentral technology to power its UCaaS offering rather than sticking to proprietary tools. There weren’t any specific insights about why Gartner dropped ALE on the report itself.
This year also saw the arrival of two new entries to the Magic Quadrant: Sangoma is in the niche players section instead of Star2Star, after Sangoma purchased the other brand in 2021. Wildix has also appeared on the report as the smallest provider within the current MQ.