Gartner’s UC Magic Quadrant is Losing its Luster

The Gartner Magic Quadrant has long held a place of reverence in the Information and Communications Technology industry as a go-to resource for large enterprises seeking a short list of vendors to consider for technology purchases and projects.

As you may know, NEC is regularly included in a number of Gartner reports, most notably the recently updated 2018 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications.

Frost and Sullivan Report NEC Smart Enterprise

Despite the fact that NEC is the world leader in lines shipped – with a 14.3 % market share in Global Call Control Licenses Vendor over Q1 2018 according to MZA Consultants – and despite the fact that we offer a full portfolio of UC solutions for businesses small, medium and large, Gartner has decided to place us in the “niche” category.

I’d like to share a few points of fact that I think you should consider when reading this year’s updated UC Magic Quadrant.

“Unified” No More

Let’s start with the name. I believe the widely accepted phrase “unified communications” is reaching its end of life. I’m not the only person who believes this, in fact there are several prominent industry analysts who share this opinion.

A recent NoJitter article by Sorell Slaymaker – a former Gartner analyst who was the lead author on the Corporate Telephony (CT) magic quadrant – makes a compelling point that the Gartner UC Magic Quadrant is “reaching the end of its usefulness.”

In Slaymaker’s opinion, “the idea that an enterprise will use a single platform for all communications is dead. Business communications is increasing an embedded capability in applications, and no one vendor does all things well across all regions of the world.”

His point is valid. We live in a highly customized world. Different business processes drive unique requirements, and we in the vendor community have learned that we must be able to integrate to survive. This is what we as NEC successfully demonstrate and are widely recognized as doing with our smart and integrated solutions across many vertical market sectors such as Hospitality, Healthcare, Government and Education.

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Positioning in Quadrant Highly Questionable

Slaymaker furthermore does not agree with the positioning given by Gartner to several major vendors, including NEC.

As he states: “It’s hard to see NEC move to a niche player this year since it arguably sells more phones than anyone else; has a full feature set; is doing some leading edge things, including incorporating facial recognition into communications; and gets decent reviews.”

Many of our largest customers run multi-vendor, multi-cloud communications environments, just as many also run only NEC. We embrace them all. And I doubt any of them would consider us “niche.”

Furthermore it is worthwhile noting that, not unlike the market overall, a significant portion of our customers are categorized as ‘midsize businesses,’ while analysts like Gartner tend to be disproportionately impressed by major firms with larger marketing budgets. The strong marketing influence of American-based vendors like Cisco, Microsoft and Avaya is another aspect to consider when evaluating Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant.

Smart Enterprise is the Future

The truth of the matter is there’s no perfect Magic Quadrant that can accurately capture the essence of NEC’s enterprise technology business. As a result, you’ll find NEC products, services and solutions captured in 11 different Gartner Magic Quadrants, at last count.

Today’s large businesses run highly customized IT and communications environments, and rather than seeking point solutions to react to specific problems, they’re becoming more strategic about their buying decisions.

NEC believes this strategic approach is best achieved by focusing on the four value pillars of the Smart Enterprise. These pillars are business agility, cloud delivery, collaborative communities and assured services.

NEC supports these four pillars by delivering the industry’s strongest and most innovative portfolio of IT and communications solutions built on 118 years of excellence and expertise.

You can learn more about the Smart Enterprise on our Web site.

The Bigger Picture

Gartner’s library of Magic Quadrants is constantly evolving. For example, the company retired its Corporate Telephony Magic Quadrant a few years ago. Many believe the same will be true for the UC Magic Quadrant before too long.

In the meantime, NEC will continue to pursue optimal positioning with Gartner and other industry influencers with all available facts, vision and information regarding our products, solutions and implementations, as we’ve always done.

And while the era of optimal usefulness may be coming to an end for the UC Magic Quadrant, NEC maintains a healthy rating over on the Gartner Peer Insights Web portal.

If you’re not familiar, Gartner Peer Insights is where you can find customer testimonials on numerous IT vendor solutions. NEC has numerous positive reviews in numerous categories. I encourage you to check it out.

And if you’re an NEC customer, please do us a favor and leave a review! After all, in the customer’s buying journey, there’s very little information that’s more useful than hearing from a peer who has walked a mile in your shoes.

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Digital Healthcare Starts with a Better ‘Customer Experience’ for Patients

As a consumer, your customer exprience often drives your purchasing decisions. This edict holds true whether you’re having dinner at a restaurant, upgrading to a new smartphone or buying a new pair of running shoes.

Why should the consumption of heathcare services be any different? Unlike many purchases, healthcare customers usually have less mobility in how and where they receive healthcare services. It’s relatively easy to go to a new restaurant if you encounter bad service or to switch retailers when you have a negative experience. It’s not so simple to change insurance carriers or go to a different healthcare facility. The delivery of patient care is made even more complex when considering regulations, compliance and privacy issues. That’s why improving the healthcare “customer experience” has become so important.

Making the patient experience better and enabling healthcare staff to be more efficient falls to the healthcare provider. Fortunately, providers have a myriad of technology options that can help them improve service delivery.

Enable Better Calling Experiences

Digital transformation creates environments to help patients make more informed decisions about their healthcare. One of consumers’ biggest complaints is the inability to easly communicate with their healthcare providers—the phone line is always busy or it rings and rings before someone finally picks up the call. As if being sick weren’t bad enough!

A communications solution designed to rapidly and efficiently handle large call volumes is an ideal option for healthcare providers. A more efficient call system enables more individualized interactions between patients and caregivers and reduces wait times. Contact center and attendant solutions provide the ability to direct calls based on rules that route calls to personnel who have the skills and training to respond to certain inquiries. Calls from patients with similar questions also can often be handled through automated systems, further reducing wait times.

The Ability to Deliver Personalized Treatment…Remotely

Sometimes it’s not possible or convenient for a patient and a caregiver to be in the same place at the same time. Long-distance services such as telediagnosis, telemonitoring, self-monitoring or e-prescriptions use technology to extend the reach of heathcare providers. Video conferencing solutions expand facility services to offsite and remote locations so that dispersed team members are able to connect and consult more seamlessly. Video conferencing can*:

  • Promote knowledge sharing in real time
  • Reduce travel costs
  • Enable faster decision making
  • Build value-based service models
  • Increase care collaboration

*Before video conferencing is used in a healthcare setting, check HIPAA compliance requirements to avoid potential violations.

Further, a unified messaging solution enables healthcare facilities to better manage the flurry of alerts, texts, messages, calls and notifications being sent out. Unified messaging ensures that the right information and alerts are sent to assigned personnel, reducing alarm fatigue and enabling focused care delivery to patients without unnessary distractions.

Helping Caregivers be More Responsive and Collaborative

Being responsive to patient needs is one of the critical aspects of a caregiver’s daily routine. A comprehensive healthcare-focused unified communications and collaboration solution such as NEC’s Nurse Call system brings together voice and messaging to enable anytime, anywhere availability that puts patients first.
Being mobile ensures that healthcare staff can commuicate easily with colleagues and patients within the demanding environment of a healthcare facility. With mobile handsets and software-based clients, caregivers stay connected so that they can share information or request assistance immediately. A seamlessly integrated healthcare environment helps ensure better interactions with patients and improves delivery of attentive care where and when it’s needed most.

A Reliable Infrastructure to Back Up UC&C Capabilities

Since they often deliver critical life-saving and emergency services, healthcare facilities cannot tolerate service outages. By deploying a high-availability infrastructure, healthcare providers have a strong operational foundation to prevent potential service disruptions. Comprehensive protection of critical applications along with communications and collaboration give providers peace of mind as they provide ongoing patient care. A multi-tiered environment that recovers quickly should disasters occur provides added reassurance for healthcare providers. A high-availability solution supports a healthcare facility’s mission-critical capabilities and provides backup and recovery as necessary.

Consumerism will Continue to Drive Healthcare Delivery

As it has in many of industries, rising consumer awareness continues to have a profound effect on healthcare delivery. Using technology to improve service—from setting up an appointment to enabling staff communication to video diagnosis—will go a long way toward improving the patient experience, ultimately resulting in better patient outcomes.

Learn more about NEC’s smart healthcare solutions.

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UC M&A Activity Further Validates NEC’s Smart Enterprise Strategy

Seems like every time I read about what’s happening in the marketplace, I learn that there’s another merger or buy-out happening in the enterprise communications space. Mitel announced recently it is acquiring rival ShoreTel, reportedly to accelerate its “move-to-the-cloud” strategy. This acquisition, along with other recent moves by Avaya and Toshiba, only reinforces my belief in NEC’s strategy for the Smart Enterprise.

NEC’s long history and innovation heritage means we are much more than just a voice and UC company – we are a true enterprise technology pioneer with roots dating back more than 50 years in the United States and over 118 years in Japan.

In developing our wide range of technologies and services, we strive to build solutions that will address specific business needs and challenges by driving safety, security and operational efficiency. These solutions, when integrated and combined in various scenarios, form our portfolio for the Smart Enterprise – our definitive technology strategy for NEC’s vision of the future.

Want advice on how to enrich your customer experience?But let’s get back to the cloud, and more specifically, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). NEC has developed a wide range of unified communications (UC) solutions that can be deployed in the cloud, on-premises or in a hybrid scenario.   For starters, NEC has a strong UCaaS offering called UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services. UNIVERGE BLUE allows a business to host all or just some of its UC in the cloud.  We also offer the UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE solution, which is a full phone and UC system deployed on premises with no large up-front investment.   The cloud allows us to offer SV9100 BLUE as an operating expense with a single bill for hardware and service.  All of this is offered today through our extensive channel partner network.

Our portfolio also includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), software defined networking (SDN), data center technologies, Unified Communications (on-premises, cloud and hybrid), biometrics, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence solutions. With a world-class network of Channel Partners and as a direct solutions integrator, we can deploy these solutions globally. Here in the U.S., we also have NEC Financial Services which delivers tailored leasing structures of extraordinary flexibility to customers nationwide.

Additionally, we are discovering new and innovative ways to utilize our biometrics solutions by integrating them with our other solutions. For instance, we have developed a virtual receptionist solution that integrates one of our biometrics applications with our Android™-based touch-screen UT880 telephone. The telephone can be placed in the lobby area and a remote worker is able to greet visitors and then screen them through our NeoFace Watch facial recognition application.

Don’t just take my word for it, the Boston Consulting Group named NEC as one of its 50 Most Innovative Companies and Frost & Sullivan recently honored NEC with their 2016 North America Frost & Sullivan Company of the Year Award for our market approach for the Smart Enterprise by stating, “NEC’s Smart Enterprise initiative is providing holistic enterprise communications transformation options that help customers adapt and flourish in the face of complex challenges.”

While the technology world is ever-changing, one thing that you can count on is NEC and our solutions for Smart Enterprise. We have demonstrated over the years our long-term commitment to our customers and to understanding their unique needs as well as their particular vertical industries. If you are ready to learn more about our solutions for Smart Enterprise and how they can help you optimize your business, please contact NEC today for a free consultation.

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In times of financial uncertainty, NEC’s stability is part of the solution

Last week, we learned that Avaya has filed in federal court for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due in large part to a significant debt burden carried over a nearly 10-year period. Only time will tell whether the debt restructuring process under bankruptcy will be kind to Avaya. Regardless, I’m sure our industry and the media will continue to study the legacies of both Nortel and Avaya as history lessons for many years to come.

What I know from my own 30-plus years of experience with NEC is that financial stability through diversification and creating operational efficiency has benefited not only us as a company, but our customers and partners through the years. Continuous improvement and innovation are probably the two biggest reasons for NEC’s 117+ years of longevity.

The next reason is our commitment to providing quality, future-proof unified communications and collaboration tools that will last and be relevant for many years to come. As a result, NEC has always had a ready willingness to step in and offer help to customers and partners who need it the most.

Another reason for our longevity is our ability to adapt and transform. NEC has reinvented itself numerous times through the years and will likely do so many more. As TalkingPointz Principal Analyst Dave Michels observed in his No Jitter coverage of our 2016 Advantage Executive Conference, we’ve done this most recently through the virtualization of our UC offerings, the launch of UC as a Service, and the integration of our UC solution set into a broader IT portfolio we call the Smart Enterprise.

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By leveraging one of our Smart Enterprise solutions, businesses can also benefit from our data center technologies – like our fault tolerant servers, storage and software defined networking – as well as market-leading biometrics and analytics.

As a result, NEC was chosen as one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies by the Boston Consulting Group. Furthermore, Frost & Sullivan recently honored NEC for its “astute strategies for migration of enterprise legacy communications systems to modern solutions” with a 2016 North America Frost & Sullivan Company of the Year Award.

All of these things add up to one clear call to action.

If you are a customer or partner of Avaya and are unsure about your future, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. At the very least you’ll learn something about our current programs and migrating to an NEC Smart Enterprise solution. At best, you’ll come away with a better idea of how you can protect your business down the line.

Stay tuned to NECToday.com for additional ideas on how you can future-proof your business with NEC.

Can You Really Predict Technology Trends?

Every year there are always plenty of fresh predictions and industry trends brought forward and discussed. They make for interesting reading, and beg the question – are they really predictions or are we just susceptible to the power of suggestion?

Many predictions have solid backing, such as Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends, announced at the Gartner Symposium / ITXpo. Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as one with the potential for significant impact on the organization, including a high potential for disruption to the business, end users, or IT; the need for a major investment; or the risk of being late to adopt. They look at trends that will impact an organization’s long-term plans, programs, and initiatives.

For 2016, Gartner predicted the following trends:

  • The Device Mesh
  • Ambient User Experience
  • 3D Printing Materials
  • Information of Everything
  • Advanced Machine Learning
  • Autonomous Agents and Things
  • Adaptive Security Architecture
  • Mesh App and Service Architecture
  • Internet of Things Platforms

In another set of predictions, No Jitter showcased the top four UC predictions for 2016. These included:

What Do They Have In Common?

When we read some of the trends and predictions, they almost seem too good to be true. It would appear that technology is moving toward almost an AI state where we can rely on it for everything. Science fiction aside, the one constant we do see is how technology improves the lives of those in business, communities, government entities, law enforcement, and individually at home and school. What we see is that all these trends have a common thread, one that we believe is critical to consider with every innovation we create at NEC – effective communication, collaboration, and orchestration of lives using Smart Solutions to improve and enhance every aspect of our lives.

For example, when adding UC to Workforce Management, contact centers are even more empowered to provide excellent customer service. If you combine Unified Communications with SDN, you have a powerful system that not only ensures your employees are communicating in a more efficient manner, but the system is now able to align itself with any traffic, making disaster recovery or even challenging inclement weather much easier to overcome.

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Biometrics is another solution that has so many applications to positively impact our lives. Whether it’s the ability for law enforcement to rapidly and correctly identify a bad guy on the spot, or retail establishments to provide their customers with an amazing experience, biometrics will impact a multitude of industries, improving customer experiences and empowering the forward momentum of the Internet of Things.

Information is at an all-time premium, as businesses move toward more efficient and effective operations. When combining SDN with our server technology, our clients now can focus on their business needs and let the technology support the flow of data in an efficient manner to ensure constant access and improved uptime.

Of course, when you think about the Information of Everything, it is important to include data analytics as a foundational element. According to Gartner, by 2020, 25 billion devices will be generating data about almost every topic imaginable. There will be an abundance of data, but how do you make sense of it? Data analytics is no longer a single solution to consider, but a necessary component to capture data and provide appropriate information to create actionable results. Those companies that harness the power this data provides will have a competitive advantage.

Speaking of data, companies are not the only ones who have a significant need for big data, analytics, and positive user experiences. NEC focuses on various solutions, such as water leak detection systems; integration support for semantic interoperability into the NEC Internet of Things and Smart City Platforms; and integrated platforms for distribution of grid management, energy efficiency, distributed generation, and energy storage, just to name a few.

Just like Gartner and No Jitter, NEC invests significant effort and resources into research to ensure that solutions we develop will not only meet the needs of our clients today, but also their upcoming needs tomorrow. This serious focus on research and development has been part of the core philosophy of NEC since our inception. We believe that as recognized innovation leaders we can ensure our solutions truly meet the needs of our clients while continuing to keep pace with emerging trends and the expanding capabilities technology affords for the future.

Can you predict technology trends? We believe so—but only by keeping your finger on the pulse of business and societal needs.  NEC’s focus on solutions perfectly aligns with the trends we see, combining powerful technology to empower our clients and enhance their lives. Whether  providing platforms for significantly improved communication, ensuring improved flow of information through powerful data analytics, or inventing new solutions for society that support a better life, NEC will continue to focus on improving our lives through technology.