• September 13, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Gartner Restores a Leader to Its Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure

Aspect Software, Avaya, Cisco Systems, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, and Nortel have all retained their status as leaders in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for North American Contact Center Infrastructure, while Interactive Intelligence rejoins the top quadrant. According to Gartner's parameters, contact center infrastructure refers to the equipment, software, and services needed to operate call and contact centers. Genesys outpaced its rivals in the leaders quadrant in Gartner's assessment of completeness of vision, thanks to its robust and flexible functionality, proficiency in professional services, and hefty financial support (under the Alcatel-Lucent umbrella). And yet that top-shelf functionality doesn't come cheap, the report states: "[I]ts solutions frequently command premium pricing." Among the top firms, Cisco fared the worst when evaluated based on completeness of vision, but led the field in its ability to execute. Gartner lauded the networking giant for its strong brand recognition and market share; extensive product portfolio featuring call, multimedia, and networking routing, IVR/voice portal, outbound dialing, and unified communications; and strong consulting and systems-integration skills among key channel partners. However, in the report, authors (and Gartner research vice presidents) Bern Elliot and Drew Kraus note that Cisco--along with Genesys, Avaya, and Nortel--"has been slower than some others in the market to evolve [its] product set to a unified architecture, providing a common set of application development, management, and reporting tools across a wide range of applications." Avaya, which revealed in June that it was being acquired by private equity firms Silver Lake and TPG Capital for about $8.2 billion, receives praise in the Gartner report for its feature set and status as an early provider of hosted contact center services. Meanwhile, Nortel is recognized for its professional services prowess, multinational reach, considerable PBX/IP-PBX customer roster to sell additional offerings to, a vision that extends beyond the contact center, and leveraging Web services for integration. The report credits Aspect Software for a comprehensive product portfolio, dedication to customer service, and worldwide reach, among other strengths. But there are warnings, as well: "Aspect lacks a strong Web services architecture to enable it more easily integrate with enterprise applications," the report states. Returning to the top group after landing in last year's "challengers" quadrant, Interactive Intelligence's leadership is clearly relieved to be back. "We consider our positioning in the Gartner Magic Quadrant as an important milestone in our mission to be the leading provider of high-end IP-based contact center solutions," Donald Brown, the company's founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "With our next product release later this year featuring many advances important to large businesses, including government-grade call encryption, advanced call control capability for mobile workers, and plug-and-play deployment of IP phones, we plan to give customers even greater value, while further improving our market position." There wasn't much movement in the other three segments of Gartner's assessment, aside from some acquisition and consolidation. In a Magic Quadrant report, the leaders' closest competition comes from the challengers quadrant, which this year includes repeat performers NEC and Siemens Communications. The vendors classified as niche players were the same, as well: Computer Talk Technology, Mitel, and Syntellect. CosmoCom, Intervoice (which nabbed Nuasis), and Oracle (which acquired Telephony@Work) land once again in the visionaries quadrant. "The contact center market in North America has been consolidating for a number of years as vendors have broadened their product portfolios. This has enabled vendors to increase their 'wallet share' and their 'span of control' in client accounts," the report states. "At the same time, it has helped customers reduce the effort of managing multiple vendors in their environments, as well as reducing the costs associated with expensive computer telephony integration (CTI) middleware and customization to get disparate systems to work together. The move to a single integrated suite of products can also reduce the operational expenditure of companies' contact center infrastructure. Over time, Gartner sees the enterprise communications infrastructure market, including contact centers, evolving from standalone systems or point-solutions toward tightly integrated functionality with interfaces embedded within other enterprise applications. This evolution will present many challenges to traditional telephony vendors." Related articles: Gartner Slots Contact Center Infrastructure Vendors
The market is expected to become more integrated and to reflect more specific differentiating business objectives. Gartner Eyes IVR and EVP Vendors Magic Quadrant findings ping Avaya, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Intervoice, and Nortel as leading the sector; reduced complexity and tight integration are hallmarks of advancement. Oracle Calls Up CRM and IP Telephony The company releases its first major offering of the IP contact center product from its Telephony@Work acquisition. Avaya Is Set to Go Private Two private equity firms rather than a competitor are acquiring the company in a deal valued at about $8.2 billion; analysts see it as positive, but wonder what might have been under a rival.
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