Published: 16 May 2017 ID: G00309857
Contact center infrastructure vendors are expanding their functional depth and breadth to deliver omnichannel solutions while enhancing their cloud delivery capabilities. Application leaders should evaluate vendors’ technology and their ability to deliver in relevant regions.
Gartner defines contact center infrastructure (CCI) as the products (equipment, software and services) needed to operate call centers for telephony support and contact centers for multichannel support. An additional major deployment option for CCI is as a core component of customer engagement centers (CECs), in which functionality is tightly integrated with CRM and social media channels to give a “single view of the customer” across all touchpoints. This type of infrastructure is used by customer and employee service and support centers, inbound and outbound telemarketing services, help desk services, government-operated support centers, and other types of structured communications operations.
Contact center interactions can be people-assisted or automated self-service, using web chat or interactive voice response (IVR) and speech recognition technologies, for example. They can also be a combination of people-assisted service and self-service. Channels for interaction use both live agents and messaging technology, and include voice, web, email, instant messaging, web chat, social media, video and mobile devices. Although there can be significant technology overlap between the CCI market and the CRM CEC market, the CCI market has three unique characteristics:
- Solutions in the CCI market are often an extension of a unified communications (UC) technology portfolio. Although these solutions can route multichannel interactions, voice and telephony tend to play an important role.
- Although CCI solutions include tools for integrating with CRM and other enterprise software packages, they do not typically include this functionality in their own solution stack.
- Voice and data network performance and cost issues are key elements in the design of architecture and solutions.
In contrast, CEC solutions are frequently an extension of the CRM market; while they also route multichannel interactions, they focus on channels other than voice, and they support a strong focus on using existing customer data to optimize interactions based on the customer’s desired outcome. These differences are significant in that they tend to result in separate decision processes driven by different decision makers within organizations. There is currently little overlap between the vendors appearing in the present Magic Quadrant and those in “Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center.”
Over time, we expect the two solution sets to merge, but that merger is still several years off.
Contact centers require a wide range of functions, architectures, features and services to be effective. Three major architectural approaches that are common are: integrated best-of-breed components, all-in-one bundled suites, and cloud-based solutions.
CCI includes a wide range of related technologies, some of which are central to vendors’ offerings and some integrated through OEM or partnership relationships with best-of-breed providers. Technology areas can include:
Voice routing technologies:
- Telephony infrastructure
- IVR and voice portals for self-service applications, including speech-enabled self-service
- Outbound dialing/proactive contact
- Virtual routing applications for multisite and work-at-home scenarios
Digital channel routing technologies:
- Multimedia contact routing and prioritization engines with real-time and historical reporting
- Computer-telephony integration/web services interfaces — including tools for integration with CRM software
- Presence tools
- Email response management
- Web chat
- Collaborative browsing
- Social media
- Live and prerecorded video
- Workflow routing and management
- Mobile customer service applications
- Knowledge-based self-service
- Sentiment analysis
Workforce engagement management technologies:
- Workforce management scheduling tools
- Session recording and quality monitoring, including speech analytics
- Data mart and analytics systems
Increasingly, contact center managers prefer to purchase much, or all, of their CCI as a bundle from a single source, in the pursuit of easier and enduring integration, cradle-to-grave integrated reporting and analytics, and easier system management. Therefore, leading CCI vendors offering complete portfolios of solutions — comprising their own products and those of partners and other strategic suppliers — are being favored.
The emerging contact center as a service (CCaaS) model — involving hosted, multitenant systems — is gaining attention as cloud approaches become increasingly accepted by enterprises. Although this Magic Quadrant focuses on premises-based (aka “on-premises”) CCI offerings, a vendor’s ability to offer viable CCaaS services to customers who may wish to eventually migrate to such services positively impacts its score on the Completeness of Vision axis. However, a vendor that exhibits a very strong shift in business strategy to make CCaaS its primary offering, and to de-emphasize its premises-based solution, may receive a lower score for Completeness of Vision than in the prior edition of this Magic Quadrant. There are currently no CCaaS-only providers that offer a substantial-enough global presence to warrant inclusion in this Magic Quadrant; however, all vendors covered this year now provide some form of a hosted or CCaaS offering, either directly or through channel partners.
Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide
Source: Gartner (May 2017)
Vendor Strengths and Cautions
Aspect, a U.S.-based, privately held company, is owned predominantly by Golden Gate Capital and Oak Investment Partners. The company is in the process of recasting itself as a “cloud first” vendor, offering hosted and/or managed “private cloud” services as well as its Via and Zipwire CCaaS services, but it continues to generate a significant portion of its product revenue from its premises-based Unified IP platform. Unified IP offers a unified multimedia contact center application suite for midsize and large implementations, including several best-of-breed applications. Aspect filed for Chapter 11 structured bankruptcy protection in the U.S. courts in early 2016. It completed its financial restructuring and emerged from bankruptcy protection several months later; it has largely regained what sales momentum it lost during the bankruptcy period.
Organizations should consider Aspect when there is a need to integrate with multiple IP-PBX telephony environments, or when they want to “decouple” the timing of their contact center and telephony investment decisions.
- Aspect provides well-integrated, best-of-breed functionality in a variety of contributing contact center technology areas, including IVR, mobile customer service and web self-service, workforce engagement management (WEM) and outbound dialer.
- Aspect’s ability to integrate with a wide variety of third-party telephony and UC solutions enables it to support customers that want to consolidate their contact center technology while maintaining a decentralized approach to other communications technologies.
- Aspect is good at delivering solutions to companies that require their systems to be customized in order to address business-specific needs, including companies that require global coverage for sales and support.
- It is unclear how well Aspect will be able to continue to aggressively fund the development and support of its premises-based contact center offerings and cloud offerings, because its installed base and derived service revenue (Aspect’s largest source of income) are in decline.
- Although Aspect has emerged from bankruptcy protection as a profitable business, some Gartner clients mistakenly assume that Aspect has been significantly weakened as a result of the bankruptcy process.
- Some Gartner clients consider that Aspect is lacking relevance in a market that is moving from call and contact centers to CECs. Aspect has, however, made progress in evolving its products and services in recent years.
Avaya is a privately held company with its headquarters in Santa Clara, California, U.S. It is owned by the private equity firms TPG and Silver Lake. In January 2017, Avaya filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in the U.S. courts in an effort to reorganize its balance sheet and restructure debt. As a result of this process, it is likely that the company’s ownership structure will also change; the public notice of the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings are available online. 1
Avaya’s core offering is its recently launched Oceana platform, adding advanced multichannel functionality to its Call Center Elite voice platform, and eventually to Avaya Aura Contact Center (AACC) and third-party automatic call distribution (ACD) solutions. The Oceana platform includes Oceanalytics for advanced multichannel reporting and customer journey mapping, and the Oceana Workspaces browser-based multichannel agent desktop interface.
Avaya continues to offer and support its existing multiple contact center platforms, each aimed at a different part of the market: Avaya Aura Call Center Elite for large enterprises with a voice-centric customer engagement strategy; AACC — and the Avaya Contact Center Select variant for Avaya IP Office — for midsize multichannel enterprises; Avaya IP Office Contact Center for small or midsize businesses (SMBs). Evolution paths to Oceana are available for existing Avaya customers.
Organizations of all sizes with sophisticated call-handling or multichannel requirements should consider Avaya’s contact center offerings, which include several best-of-breed applications for contact center environments. Risk-averse organizations may not want to consider evaluating Avaya’s solutions until it shows significant progress in reorganizing its capital structure and exiting Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 2
- Avaya has strong brand recognition with large and midsize corporate organizations for CCI. Its strong global footprint, including service provider/system integration (SP/SI partners), helps it satisfy the needs of most types of organization.
- Avaya’s Oceana multichannel contact center platform offers full digital channel support, context, attribute-based routing, and real-time and historical reporting and analytics. This platform consolidates Avaya’s previously fragmented approach to delivering multichannel contact center functionality.
- The Avaya Breeze platform (with Avaya Engagement Designer), Zang cloud communications platform and applications-as-service, and Avaya Snap-ins and Snapp Store marketplace, enable developers to quickly create unique communications-enabled contact center applications and workflows for within and beyond the enterprise.
- At the time of writing, Avaya is under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it seeks to restructure its debt. If this process becomes protracted (a year or more), Avaya may be at risk of underfunding its new contact center development initiatives.
- Although Avaya has created a coherent strategy for supporting CCaaS, the offering is still in its early stages.
- An increasing number of Gartner clients are expressing dissatisfaction with Avaya’s ability to deliver contact center solutions.
Cisco is a U.S.-based public company with shares traded on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
Cisco’s contact center offerings include: Unified Contact Center Enterprise (UCCE) for large enterprises and those requiring advanced functionality; Packaged Contact Center Enterprise (PCCE) for contact centers with up to 2,000 agents; Unified Contact Center Express for small and midsize contact centers with fewer than 400 agents; Unified Intelligent Contact Management Enterprise, which provides network-level routing and can support multivendor environments; Spark Care, a customer care capability for helpdesks and small teams that supports blended chat and call handling using the cloud-based Spark platform. A cloud-based variant of PCCE is also available through select channel partners on Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution platform.
Organizations that favor an end-to-end network, telephony, UC and contact center solution from a single vendor should consider Cisco’s contact center offerings, especially those with advanced and scalable contact center requirements.
- Cisco has strong finances, corporate brand recognition and a robust global network of channel partners. As a result, it is frequently shortlisted by organizations looking to replace legacy contact center investments.
- Cisco’s alliance with Salesforce is a positive step toward offering integration between CRM and CCI. The brand strength and size of both companies is likely to result in mutually beneficial outcomes for them and their customers.
- Cisco’s new practice of bundling email and chat with its contact center licenses — together with gadgets for its Finesse desktop development environment — enable organizations to consider Cisco for managing contacts within an omnichannel experience.
- Cisco relies largely on partners to deliver core and contributing contact center functionalities such as workforce engagement and knowledge management — at a time when the industry is witnessing consolidation in these areas. Acquisition of one or more of these partners by competitors could result in disruption to existing partnerships and portfolio management.
- Organizations committed to using Microsoft’s Skype for Business as a UC infrastructure do not have a practical path for integration with a Cisco-based contact center platform.
- Although Cisco’s Spark Care cloud-based customer service platform is a promising development, it is likely to be a number of years before organizations can consider it a scalable next-generation solution for omnichannel CCaaS.
Enghouse Interactive is a division of Enghouse Systems, a public company based in Canada, with shares traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Enghouse has three primary contact center offerings: Contact Center: Enterprise (CCE) targets high-end enterprise premises-based contact center environments and virtualized cloud environments; Communications Center (CC) targets small or midsize contact centers, either on-premises or delivered through a hosted managed service, especially for integration with a number of PBXs (including with Skype for Business), and is sold exclusively through channel partners; Contact Center: Service Provider (CCSP) is a cloud-based multitenant platform aimed at service providers that offer CCaaS solutions.
Enghouse owns three other discrete technology providers: Trio Enterprises, Voxtron and the more recently acquired Presence Technology.
Consider Enghouse CC when looking for a multichannel contact center solution for fewer than 500 agents and where you need to tightly integrate with a Skype for Business UC infrastructure. Consider Enghouse CCE when looking for a complex, multisite or virtualized multimedia contact center routing solution.
- Enghouse Interactive’s parent company, Enghouse Systems, is committed to a strategy for growth through acquisition, which supports growth and continued investment in Enghouse Interactive.
- Enghouse has clarified its go-to-market plan for its core contact center offerings, which should make it easier for organizations to identify the most appropriate solution.
- Enghouse’s channel partners have amassed a large installed base for integrations of CC with Microsoft’s Skype for Business infrastructure. A number of these have migrated with CC from legacy PBX platforms to Skype for Business. This can be useful for organizations looking for reference examples for a planned integration.
- Enghouse lacks brand recognition among contact center decision makers. This limits its ability to use its acquisitions to strengthen growth under a common brand.
- The architectures of both Enghouse CC and Enghouse CCE rely heavily on integration with competitors’ IP-PBX platforms for delivery of voice to the desktop. Although this enables contact center migration across PBXs, it can be challenging to market and sell as an independent contact center solution.
- Enghouse pursues an acquisition strategy to promote organizational growth. Although the acquisition of smaller, discrete players can strengthen their financial stability, and provide value-added components for the portfolio, those smaller players may still struggle to compete in a market dominated by larger vendors.
Genesys is a privately held company based in the U.S. and with major private equity investment from Permira and Hellman & Friedman. Genesys acquired Interactive Intelligence, a contact center and UC vendor, in December 2016, merging largely complementary product lines and providing Genesys with a more mature CCaaS offering.
Genesys has three primary offerings: PureEngage, offered on-premises or as a hosted/managed service, is based on Genesys’ traditional offerings and supports contact centers with hundreds or thousands of agents, and particularly those with complex customization requirements; PureConnect, offered on-premises or as multi-instance CCaaS, is based on the traditional Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Center, supporting contact centers operating up to several hundred agents, particularly for customers with moderately complex needs who value a tightly integrated all-in-one platform; PureCloud, based on the Interactive Intelligence microservices-based, multitenant CCaaS offering, typically operating with contact centers of up to 250 agents for customers who value cloud-based, easy-to-deploy functionality and require only basic customization.
Consider Genesys for contact center solutions that span a variety of levels of complexity and scalability, including those that require significant customization to address differentiated customer service needs.
- Genesys has a well-defined approach for decoupling contact center applications from telephony infrastructure across a wide range of contact center sizes, levels of complexity and degrees of customization.
- Genesys PureEngage includes an advanced set of “omnichannel journey management” tools. Gartner clients often look to Genesys for leading-edge solutions in this emerging sector.
- Genesys PureConnect and PureCloud provide a common set of application development, management and reporting tools across a range of applications. These all-in-one offerings resonate strongly with decision makers in SMBs.
- The merging of the business operations of Genesys and Interactive Intelligence is still in the early phases of implementation. Customers for Genesys’ solution sets must be prepared to monitor the performance of the vendor and its channel partners to ensure that performance does not suffer during this transitional phase.
- Some Gartner clients report frustrations about the skills levels of Genesys resources providing support for its PureConnect and PureCloud offerings.
- In the past, Genesys has not been seen as a strong provider of midmarket on-premises and CCaaS solutions. Gartner has found that this causes some customers in this market segment to overlook Genesys’ solutions.
Huawei is a privately held company based in China, with shares held primarily by the company’s employees. Huawei’s eSpace contact centers run on the following platforms: Soft ACD UAP9600 and UAP6600 platforms for large enterprise and communications service provider (CSP) environments; eSpace U2980 platform with software-based media gateway controller and media resource platform for enterprises; eSpace U2980 platform packaged as an all-in-one contact center appliance offering for small and midsize contact centers; Contact Center Express (CCE) solution for contact centers with fewer than 50 agents; Cloud Enterprise Communications Platform 6.0 (EC6.0) for private clouds, public clouds, and hybrid clouds supporting convergence and collaboration between multiple services.
Huawei also provides specialized APIs to enable partners to integrate with industry-specific applications, including those supporting the high-end finance and “safe city” vertical markets.
Price-sensitive CSPs, enterprises and government agencies, particularly those in Asia/Pacific (especially China) and emerging economies, should consider Huawei when looking for cost-effective solutions.
- Huawei offers a broad range of enterprise communications solutions, including contact centers, data networking and unified communications. This can be attractive to companies wishing to consolidate their communications investments with a single vendor.
- Huawei has a strong contact center presence in China, and is continuing to grow its presence in other markets in Asia/Pacific, as well as in Latin America and Eastern Europe.
- In 2016, Huawei ported its eSpace enterprise contact center offerings to its converged EC6.0 platform. This provides a more cost-effective and consolidated platform for contact center, UC and video collaboration, whether on-premises or in the cloud.
- Although Huawei is expanding globally, it considers the North American market to be a low priority, due to the geopolitical setback in the U.S. It has also had limited success in growing its presence with end-user organizations in Western Europe. This makes it difficult for Huawei to support the needs of many global enterprises.
- Huawei lacks strong brand recognition for its enterprise contact center offerings outside its core market of China.
- Huawei supports basic routing functionality for digital channels such as email, web chat and SMS, but requires partners to add advanced functionality (such as automatic responses, suggested responses and supervisor review) before sending. This adds to the complexity of deploying and supporting these functions.
Mitel is a public company based in Canada, with shares traded on the Nasdaq and Toronto stock markets. Mitel’s portfolio of premises-based solutions includes: MiContact Center Office for small, informal contact centers; MiContact Center Business, a prepackaged application set for the midmarket; MiContact Center Enterprise, which supports a broad suite of applications for enterprises with up to 30,000 concurrent agents.
Mitel also supports three CCaaS offerings, including an OEM CCaaS offering aimed at large or multichannel environments.
Consider Mitel’s solutions when looking for a wide range of common contact center capabilities, particularly when integrating with a Mitel UC offering or when evaluating integration with Microsoft Skype for Business.
- Mitel’s recent investments in improving its go-to-market capabilities in North America and Western Europe have improved its ability to win larger contact center deals than it has competed for in the past.
- Organizations committed to Skype for Business for UC are able to consider Mitel’s MiContact Center Business Edition as a contact center solution. Those committed to Cisco’s UC infrastructure can consider MiContact Center Enterprise Edition.
- Mitel has shown success in selling to the healthcare, local-government, community banking and retail sectors.
- Only organizations that already use Mitel for telephony and UC are likely to be offered its contact center solutions.
- Although Mitel can be regarded as a global player, it has not aggressively targeted new market opportunities for its acquired products. Organizations outside Mitel’s core markets may struggle to find relevant customer references and local channel partner skills to support Mitel’s solutions.
- While Mitel’s API approach to the extensibility of its MiContact Center solutions is a promising development, it will need to continue to address the market with separate contact center offers until the transition to a microservice API-based architecture is complete.
NEC is a public company based in Japan, with shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. NEC’s flagship multimedia contact center offering is Univerge Contact Center, which supports customers ranging from SMBs to companies with thousands of call center agents.
Enterprises with an existing NEC telephony system, those using big data in their contact centers, and those seeking an all-in-one solution for UC and collaboration and contact centers should consider NEC.
- NEC can provide differentiating industry-specific solutions in vertical markets such as hospitality, healthcare, education and government.
- NEC has a large global installed base of telephony and UC customers to which it can sell its contact center platform.
- Univerge Contact Center can draw on NEC’s strength in data and speech analytics for functionality such as agent scripting, automated responses for digital interactions and advanced quality management.
- NEC has low brand recognition in the North American and Western European contact center markets. This limits its ability to sell to global companies with significant presence in these key markets.
- NEC sells its contact center offerings primarily to organizations that already have significant NEC telephony environments. Gartner sees limited results from NEC’s attempts to broaden the appeal of its contact center solutions and displace other vendors.
- NEC relies largely on partners to deliver important contact center functionalities — such as workforce management, quality assurance and knowledge management — at a time when the industry is witnessing consolidation in these areas. Acquisitions by competitors could result in disruption to partnerships and portfolio management.
SAP, which is based in Germany, is a public company with shares traded on the Frankfurt and New York stock exchanges. SAP Contact Center is positioned within the SAP Hybris Customer Engagement and Commerce (CEC) business unit and delivers omnichannel customer engagement integrated with SAP’s business application and SAP Cloud offerings.
SAP Contact Center is more suitable for organizations committed to the SAP suite of business applications and SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer offerings than it is for organizations looking for a stand-alone, multichannel contact center suite.
- SAP is a recognized global brand with a strong commitment to enterprise software. This includes the field of omnichannel customer engagement, of which contact center software is a core component.
- Positioning its contact center platform as an element of SAP Hybris Service Engagement Center strengthens SAP’s proposition for customer service within the broader portfolio of enterprise software.
- SAP Contact Center is a scalable suite with multitenant properties provided by “Virtual Units.” This aligns it well with SAP’s portfolio of customer service applications based on the SAP Cloud Platform.
- Despite strengthening its marketing commitment to the contact center portfolio as part of the SAP Hybris CEC business unit, SAP has shown limited commitment to promoting its contact center solution as an alternative to solutions from larger vendors such as Avaya, Cisco and Genesys.
- Tight integration with SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer and SAP Hybris Service Engagement Center for an omnichannel customer experience makes SAP Contact Center a less attractive proposition for organizations not committed to SAP customer service applications.
- SAP relies largely on partners to deliver important contact center functionalities, such as workforce engagement, dialer and knowledge management (via a separate division of SAP), at a time when the industry is witnessing consolidation in these areas. Acquisitions by competitors could result in disruption to partnerships and portfolio management.
Unify is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atos, a global system integration and outsourcing business based in France. Unify’s contact center offerings include: OpenScape Contact Center Enterprise, which is Unify’s flagship multichannel platform for on-premises or private cloud deployment by midsize and large organizations with up to 7,500 users; OpenScape Media Portal, a key technology for IVR and voice service; OpenScape Enterprise Express, an all-in-one appliance that includes contact center support.
Unify has a partnership with inContact for the OpenScape Cloud Contact Center offering. It also partners with Genesys to offer PureEngage for very high-end, complex requirements.
Organizations committed to, or considering, the Unify portfolio should consider OpenScape Contact Center Enterprise as a contender for OpenScape infrastructures.
- As a subsidiary of Atos, Unify is in a financially strong position to execute a growth plan for its communications and contact center business.
- The OpenScape Contact Center Agent Portal, launched in 2015, is a promising development in support of an omnichannel customer experience.
- Transitioning from Unify services for contact centers to Atos is an opportunity for organizations to benefit from best practices from a global player in IT services.
- Unify’s OpenScape Contact Center Enterprise is moving toward platform independence with preferred devices, but it still requires separate appliance servers for contact center, voice portal and outbound dialer functions.
- Unify has overlapping contact center solutions in its portfolio. It is unclear at this time whether Atos favors continued development of the Unify product portfolio or use of solutions from partners Genesys and inContact.
- Unify relies largely on partners to deliver important contact center functionalities such as workforce management and quality monitoring, and lacks a knowledge management offering at a time when the industry is witnessing consolidation in these areas. Acquisitions by competitors could result in disruption to existing partnerships and portfolio management.
Vocalcom, which is based in France, is a privately owned company with Apax Partners as the majority shareholder. Vocalcom uses a common software platform to power its Vocalcom Cloud Contact Center, Vocalcom Cloud Contact Center for Salesforce, Vocalcom Virtual Contact Center and Vocalcom Virtual Contact Center for Avaya.
Vocalcom’s contact center suite solutions are offered primarily as cloud-based solutions, but can also be deployed on-premises and with perpetual-license terms. Vocalcom Cloud Contact Center solutions can be deployed in Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) or Salesforce’s Force.com cloud infrastructures.
Organizations looking for platform-independent multichannel solutions with integration to Salesforce should consider Vocalcom’s suite of contact center software.
- Vocalcom’s Cloud Contact Center approach has enabled it to expand into new markets by using flexible third-party infrastructure as a service (IaaS), specifically Amazon EC2 and Salesforce Force.com.
- Vocalcom continues to be appreciated by customers, judging from GetApp’s rankings for CRM, customer service and cloud contact center software.
- Vocalcom’s history of offering solutions to outsourcers on a utility license basis positions it well to offer organizations flexible, consumption-based licensing for its on-premises, private cloud and public cloud solutions.
- Vocalcom is challenged to achieve brand recognition among competitors with larger sales and marketing budgets.
- Vocalcom relies on partners to deliver workforce management functionality at a time when the industry is witnessing consolidation in the area of workforce engagement. Acquisitions by competitors could result in disruption to existing partnerships and portfolio management.
- Vocalcom is struggling to establish a presence in North America. This will limit its appeal to organizations with requirements in this region, including global organizations.
ZTE, which is based in China, is a public company with shares traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Its Next Generation Call Center (NGCC) suite supports highly scalable multimedia contact center capabilities, with strong support for both inbound and outbound operations in cloud- and premises-based configurations. ZTE’s offerings include: the AnyService@ZXNGCC multimedia unified contact center product, which is based on its ZXMSQ10 SoftACD switch and system, or its AnyService@ZXNGCC all-IP-based contact center switching solution; the ZXQ20 appliance-based all-in-one contact center solution for small or midsize contact centers.
Consider ZTE’s NGCC suite for deployments in China and emerging economies, particularly when the requirement is for price-competitive solutions that scale to thousands of agents (for example, in CSP and contact center business process outsourcing environments).
- ZTE’s NGCC suite is well-suited for CSPs needing to provide multitenant virtual contact center services for enterprise customers, especially those in the call center service outsourcing business.
- ZTE’s NGCC suite can be deployed as an all-software solution running on a next-generation-network softswitch or an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network for greater efficiency in CSP environments.
- ZTE is good at selling solutions to CSPs in China and many emerging economies.
- ZTE lacks brand recognition for enterprise contact center sales outside China.
- ZTE lacks a broad base of enterprise-focused channel partners or CSP partners with a strong understanding of the best practices used in contact center environments.
- ZTE’s ZXQ20 appliance-based bundled contact center offering for small or midsize contact centers has achieved limited adoption so far. Potential users should check their suppliers’ experience with this product and check local customers’ references.
Vendors Added and Dropped
We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant may change over time. A vendor’s appearance in a Magic Quadrant one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. It may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or of a change of focus by that vendor.
- ALE — Did not meet the inclusion criteria for premises-based contact center product and service revenue
- Altitude — Did not meet the inclusion criteria for premises-based contact center product and service revenue
- Collab — Did not meet the inclusion criteria for premises-based contact center product and service revenue
- Interactive Intelligence — Was acquired by Genesys
- Presence Technology — Was acquired by Enghouse Interactive
- ShoreTel — Did not meet the inclusion criteria for premises-based contact center product and service revenue
Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria
To be included in this Magic Quadrant, solution providers had to demonstrate all of the following capabilities:
- Premises-based contact center product and service revenue of more than $45 million in the calendar year 2016.
- Evidence of sales, marketing and operational presence in a minimum of three of the following geographical regions: Asia/Pacific, Eastern Europe, Japan, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, North America, and Western Europe. We required evidence that vendors operated sales offices in those regions and were actively selling contact center solutions in those regions; they could not just sell solutions in one region for delivery in the other regions. We also required vendors to have a multiple-language web presence. Vendors could meet these requirements directly and/or through channel partners.
- Significant market share in the geographic markets specified above.
- Sufficient sales and operational presence to support market objectives.
- Demonstrable solutions in a minimum of five of the CCI technology areas defined in the Market Definition/Description section of this document.
- Ability to generate significant interest by leading client market segments.
The following vendors are not included in this Magic Quadrant, because they ship products predominantly to a single country or did not meet other inclusion criteria, but they are appropriate for certain situations and they sometimes compete against vendors that are included in this Magic Quadrant:
- Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE)
- Drishti-soft Solutions
- Noble Systems
- Towards Vision Technologies (TVT)
Ability to Execute
Gartner analysts evaluate CCI technology providers based on the breadth, quality and overall maturity of their applications, customer support capabilities, and ability to deliver solutions that enable contact center operations in the formal contact centers of midsize or large enterprises. Ultimately, CCI technology providers are judged on their ability to capitalize on their vision and their success in doing so.
Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria
Product or Service
Source: Gartner (May 2017)
Completeness of Vision
Gartner analysts evaluate CCI technology providers based on their ability to convincingly articulate logical statements about current and future market directions, innovations, customer needs and competitive forces, and how well these map to Gartner’s overall understanding of the market. Ultimately, CCI technology providers are evaluated on their understanding of how market forces can be exploited to create opportunities for them and their clients.
Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria
Offering (Product) Strategy
Source: Gartner (May 2017)
Leaders are high-viability vendors with broad portfolios, significant market share, broad geographic coverage, a clear vision of how contact center needs will evolve, and a proven track record of delivering contact center solutions. They are well-positioned with their current product portfolio and likely to continue delivering leading products. Leaders do not necessarily offer a best-of-breed solution for every customer requirement. Overall, however, their products are strong and often have some exceptional capabilities. These vendors also provide solutions that pose a relatively low risk of deployment failure.
Challengers are vendors with strong market capabilities and good solutions for specific markets. Overall, however, their products lack the breadth and depth of those in the Leaders quadrant. Challengers do not always communicate a clear vision of how the contact center market is evolving, and they are often less innovative or advanced than Leaders. Challengers often excel at selling contact center functionality to their existing PBX and IP telephony customers.
Visionaries demonstrate a clear understanding of the contact center market and provide key innovations that point to the market’s future. However, they typically lack the ability to influence a large portion of the market, have not yet expanded their sales and support capabilities on a regional basis, or do not yet have the funding to execute with the same capabilities as the Leaders.
Niche Players offer contact center products that focus on a segment of the market or a subset of its functionality. Customers aligned with the focus of a Niche Player may find its offerings to be a good fit for their needs.
The market for CCI is currently in an innovative and dynamic phase, in which multiple forces are affecting purchase and deployment decisions in new ways; these forces include:
- Decoupling of CCI from telephony/UC — CCI purchases have traditionally been closely linked to a company’s chosen telephony vendor. However, these purchase decisions have increasingly been decoupled in recent years. One factor driving the decoupling of CCI from telephony infrastructure is that, as companies increasingly tie their telephony decisions to their broader UC strategies, they often want their CCI purchases to offer them flexibility of deployment — should their UC strategy draw them away from their existing telephony vendor. A prime example of this is seen when companies plan to evolve their UC strategies to focus on Microsoft Skype for Business. Because Microsoft does not currently offer its own robust CCI solution, contact center decision makers and planners may opt to select a CCI solution from a company whose enterprise communications application business is not heavily tied to an enterprise telephony or UC product line.
- Adoption of CCaaS — A second significant force for change in the CCI market is the increasing propensity of CCI decision makers to consider, and often select, CCaaS offerings as a replacement for premises-based solutions. In many cases, the CCI vendors that also have UC offerings lack mature CCaaS offerings, and Gartner clients often feel compelled to change vendors in order to access more mature CCaaS services. In some cases, this decision is driven by the aforementioned desire to decouple a company’s CCI and telephony/UC decisions. In other cases, it is driven by other factors, including: the desire to switch from a capital expenditure acquisition model to an operating expenditure model, and the potential for a lower total cost of ownership; a desire to focus investments and staffing on core business products and services; the need to scale license usage up and down to match seasonal staffing demands; and/or the need for more rapid deployment.
- Shift to a holistic view of customer engagement — The contact center market is evolving from a focus on discrete, one-off customer interactions using a variety of communications channel silos to a more integrated and holistic view of customer activities and workflows, given that a customer may engage in a variety of different activities in the course of completing a customer journey. This focus on context-aware, multichannel (including web self-service and social media), reactive and proactive interactions is shaping the evolution of contact centers into CECs. This change in focus is still in its early phases in terms of adoption and, at present, there is more vendor hype than actual customer service transformation. However, as phone-based customer service now shares popularity with other communications channels, many mainstream technology adopters are at least planning to orchestrate their various customer interaction channels more effectively by moving to a more convenient, cohesive and consistent customer experience.
- Drive toward multichannel engagement — The drive to develop the contact center into a customer-experience-centric CEC is injecting additional dynamics into the contact center market. Companies are altering their evaluation and selection of vendors to provide nonvoice channels (email, web chat, video chat, social and so on) to their customer service environments. During the past five to 10 years, many enterprises have looked to either their CRM vendors or best-of-breed specialists to provide these customer interaction channels. However, voice-based interactions continue to make up a significant portion of interactions in contact centers. As such, as companies look to evolve their customer support to become more customer-centric across all interaction channels, some are recognizing the benefits of acquiring both their voice and nonvoice channels as a package from a single vendor — and very few CRM vendors support phone-based-assisted customer service. Benefits include the use of a consistent business rule management capability for routing, queuing and escalating interactions across channels, enabling a company to prioritize the handling of the best customers regardless of customers’ chosen channels. Obtaining all interaction applications from a single vendor also makes it easier for companies to manage reporting and staffing across channels, rather than having to integrate operational performance data across separate systems.
- Integration of workforce optimization and engagement capabilities — The integration of workforce optimization (WFO) and customer service WEM capabilities under the umbrella of contact center application suites is further along the evolution path toward a greater breadth of capabilities than is the integration of nonvoice channels. WFO solutions have traditionally been purchased as “point” solutions in the WFO application stack (for example, from separate WFM, recording, quality assurance, analytics and e-learning vendors) or from vendors offering integrated WFO suites. WEM solutions represent an evolution of WFO technologies, seeking to improve customer experience and loyalty by making agent resources more engaged in delivering differentiated experiences to the customers they interact with. In recent years, a number of leading CCI vendors have added functionality to their application suites that can now rival the offerings of WFO and WEM specialists, at least for companies needing midlevel functionality; and, in some cases, they now rival the WFO and WEM specialists in delivering high-end capabilities. It should be noted, however, that even those CCI vendors that have incorporated WFO and WEM capabilities into their application suites will also support tight integrations with the WFO and WEM specialists, because most of the installed base requires support for these integrations.
- Addition of knowledge management and interaction orchestration capabilities — Many of the leading “traditional” contact center vendors are adding knowledge management capabilities (for enhanced multichannel self-service) and interaction orchestration capabilities (to make better use of customer context information from multiple enterprise data sources and support customer journeys across interaction channels) to their application suites. Although these enhanced suites are still in the early stages of adoption, they are beginning to pose a challenge to the more common decision to obtain the nonvoice channels from CRM vendors or best-of-breed specialists.
In 2017, Gartner substantially increased the minimum revenue criterion for inclusion in this Magic Quadrant from the previous $10 million in sales and services revenue to a new minimum revenue criterion of $45 million in CCI sales and services revenue. This increase better reflects the maturity of the market for CCI. The positioning of vendors on this year’s version of the CCI Magic Quadrant has undergone several changes — some quite significant — driven in part by the removal of six vendors from the Magic Quadrant as a result of setting a higher bar for the inclusion requirements, as well as by changes in those vendors’ strategy, performance and technology.
Vendors in the Leaders quadrant tend to have strong product functionality and roadmaps and appear frequently on our clients’ shortlists. In the Leaders quadrant, both Cisco and Genesys held similar positions in terms of Ability to Execute compared with 2016, while slightly improving their positions on the Completeness of Vision axis as their developments in customer journey analytics begin to resonate with Gartner clients. Genesys’ acquisition of Interactive Intelligence has strengthened the company’s ability to reach both midmarket and CCaaS customers, yet it is still in the early stages of integrating the two previously competing businesses. As a result, Genesys’ score for Completeness of Vision has improved, but we are taking a “wait and see” approach before strengthening its score for Ability to Execute.
Vendors in the Challengers quadrant tend to have good, although not leading, product functionality and roadmaps. They tend not to appear on Gartner client shortlists as frequently as do the Leaders, which indicates that their market visions do not resonate as strongly with our clients. In the Challengers quadrant, Huawei’s position was reduced in both Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute based on its limited presence in the markets of North America and Western Europe, and its stronger focus on service providers rather than enterprises (this document being focused on offerings for enterprises). Enghouse Interactive’s score for Ability to Execute improved based on its continued growth and strong performance in providing small to midmarket contact center solutions in Microsoft Skype for Business UC deployments. Mitel’s score for Ability to Execute declined relative to the prior version of this document, having been rated a Caution by Gartner’s financial scoring methodology. NEC held its position by enhancing its offerings and Ability to Execute at a pace equivalent to the improvements seen in the market overall.
Vendors in the Visionaries quadrant are positioned on the basis of their differentiated functionality. Avaya’s introduction of its Oceana multichannel contact center solution combined with its Breeze architecture for custom integrations, expands on an already strong set of offerings, improving the company’s score on the Completeness of Vision axis. However, Avaya’s bankruptcy reorganization and weakened customer experience rating has reduced its comparable position on the Ability to Execute axis. Aspect is a Visionary largely due to its strong capabilities in ancillary contact center applications, including IVR, WFO and dialer. Aspect continues to show that it is regaining sales momentum (during the past several years) and, as such, we have increased its score for Ability to Execute. SAP is a Visionary due to tight integration with the company’s CRM and ERP offerings, including the Hana big data analytics platform. SAP’s position has improved along the Completeness of Vision axis as a result of its contact center business being integrated into the larger SAP Hybris CEC business unit, although it remains to be seen if this organizational change will result in an improvement in its Ability to Execute.
Vendors in the Niche Players quadrant often have good, although not leading, product functionality, combined with limited ability to execute beyond a specific market niche. Vocalcom, Unify and ZTE all remained in the Niche Players quadrant this year, although their positions showed some changes. Vocalcom improved its rating for Completeness of Vision based on its expanding breadth of both on-premises and CCaaS functionality. Unify’s position declined in Ability to Execute as a result of its declining sales; however, its score for Completeness of Vision remains consistent year over year. ZTE’s score for Ability to Execute slipped slightly due to its focus on selling into the service provider market rather than to enterprises, as well as due to general repositioning of vendor placement resulting from the removal of several vendors from last year’s Niche Players quadrant.
Acronym Key and Glossary Terms
contact center as a service
contact center infrastructure
customer engagement center
communications service provider
interactive voice response
small or midsize business
workforce engagement management
1 See Avaya Inc. (17-10089) , Prime Clerk; for updates on Avaya.
2 Consult “Avaya’s Chapter 11 Debt Restructuring Filing Requires Risk Mitigation for Unified Communications and Contact Center Customers” for strategies to mitigate.
Evaluation Criteria Definitions
Ability to Execute
Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.
Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization’s financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization’s portfolio of products.
Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor’s capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.
Market Responsiveness/Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor’s history of responsiveness.
Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization’s message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This “mind share” can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.
Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.
Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.
Completeness of Vision
Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers’ wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen to and understand buyers’ wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.
Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.
Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.
Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor’s approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.
Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor’s underlying business proposition.
Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.
Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.
Geographic Strategy: The vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the “home” or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.