Within the contact center infrastructure market, telecommunications giant Avaya now lays claim to approximately half of all worldwide revenue, according to the newly restored Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure. What's more, the authors of the report point to Avaya's acquisition of Nortel Networks in December 2009 as a symbol for an era of market consolidation.
Gartner defines contact center infrastructure as the equipment, software, and services needed to operate contact centers for basic telephony support and contact centers for multichannel support. The firms mentioned in the report are broken down into four groups:
- Leaders — "high-viability vendors with broad portfolios, significant market shares, broad geographic coverage, a clear vision of how contact center needs will evolve and a proven track record of delivering contact center products."
- Challengers — vendors with strong market capabilities that lack "the breadth and depth of...the Leaders."
- Visionaries — provide the innovation needed to direct the market's future but are incapable of influencing a large portion of the market.
- Niche Players — "offer contact center products that focus on a segment of the market or a subset of its functionality."
This year's report shows a lack of movement within the four defined quadrants, suggesting that little has changed in the market's landscape since 2008. Gartner research vice president Drew Kraus describes the market as "mature," and though he admits the global landscape looks similar to what it did two years ago, a region-by-region assessment would offer different results. For example, "If you look at [the market] globally the movements [on the report] are more muted," Kraus says. "Cisco didn't do as strong in Western Europe this year. If we were doing a Western European quadrant they would have slipped. But globally there wasn't a dramatic change [in their productivity and thus their quadrant placement]." This is true of other vendors as well; four firms designated as Leaders in 2008 remain in the top quadrant save the aforementioned Nortel.
Siemens Enterprise and NEC remain in the Challenger quadrant while Oracle and SAP will have to wait until 2011 to advance out of the Visionaries group. No new groups were added to the quadrant.
CosmoCom may have seen the most significant move in the new report, transitioning from a Visionary to a Niche Player. According to Kraus, the shift is due to the company "focusing more directly on the carrier market and hosted service market." The report lauded the vendor's "broad suite of highly scalable and fully featured contact center infrastructure application," as well as its "unified contact center application suite." CosmoCom is described as having "strong scalability and multitenant capabilities using multilevel permissions-based partitioning" and is identified as particularly suitable for "large-scale, multitenant enterprises, service provider environments."
Intervoice/Convergys was the only vendor to be dropped entirely from the Magic Quadrant due to what the report describes as an inability to "generate significant interest for leading client segments." Kraus suggests that Intervoice's incorporation of Convergys allowed the company to remain in the quadrant one year longer than it should have. "Quite frankly," Kraus says, "if it had just been the old Intervoice they would have been dropped last year. [The company] was interesting enough to keep on for another year but it has taken Convergys more time to digest than it should have."
Firms are evaluated based on "the quality and efficacy of the processes, systems, methods and procedures that enable contact center performance to be competitive, efficient and effective and to positively affect revenue, retention and reputation," the report explains. To appear in the quadrant, vendors must possess all of the following criteria:
- significant market share or, failing that, sufficient differentiation to obtain market presence;
- sufficient sales and operational presence to support their market objectives;
- demonstrable solutions in most of the contact center infrastructure portfolio areas defined earlier; and
- evidence of an ability to generate significant interest from leading client segments.
The report cites the economic downturn as the reason for the recent surge in consolidation. After a five-year growth period, the market has now been on the decline for two consecutive years. "During the early and more dramatic phases of the economic downturn, many companies focused their contact center infrastructure and operation strategies on reducing [technology] and operational costs," the report contends. "This led to an increase in investments in infrastructure consolidation projects." But as the economy began to recover in late 2009 vendors were once again searching for innovative revenue streams.
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