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

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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 has rejoined the top quadrant.

According to Gartner’s parameters, contact center infrastructure refers to the equipment, software, and services needed to operate 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. "Its solutions frequently command premium pricing," the report states.

Among the top firms, Cisco fared the worst 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 of call, multimedia, and network routing, IVR/voice portal, outbound dialing, and unified communications; and strong consulting and systems integration skills among key channel partners.

However, in the report, Gartner research vice presidents Bern Elliot and Drew Kraus noted 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 received praise in the Gartner report for its feature set and status as an early provider of hosted contact center services. Meanwhile, Nortel was recognized for its professional services prowess, multinational reach, considerable PBX/IP-PBX customer roster, a vision that extends beyond the contact center, and leveraging Web services for integration.

The report credited Aspect Software for a comprehensive product portfolio, dedication to customer service, and worldwide reach, among other strengths. But there were warnings as well. "Aspect lacks a strong Web services architecture to enable it to 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 CEO, 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 acquisitions and consolidation. In this year’s report, challengers include repeat performers NEC and Siemens Communications. Vendors classified as niche players were the same as well: Computer Talk Technology, Mitel, and Syntellect. CosmoCom, Intervoice, and Oracle landed 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," the report’s authors continued.

Over time, Gartner predicts the enterprise communications infrastructure market, including contact centers, will evolve from stand-alone systems or point solutions to tightly integrated functionality with interfaces embedded within other enterprise applications. It also expects this evolution to present many challenges to traditional telephony vendors.

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