Magic Quadrant for Web Conferencing
Web conferencing is now a key capability for specific business processes, and a requirement for strategic unified communications and collaboration buying decisions.
Web-conferencing products are real-time collaboration tools that support interactions over a network between participants in multiple meeting formats. Types of meetings and communications that fall into the category of Web conferencing include webinars, online meetings and audio communications. A separate telephone bridge is generally used for the audio portion, but voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is increasingly being used, and often at the same time. Video from desktops, smartphones or tablets can be supported within meetings. Vendor offerings are increasingly enabling users not only to participate in, but also to host meetings from mobile devices with video. For VoIP and video support, accessories such as headsets and webcams should be included in the purchasing decision. However, companies also are rolling out new laptop PCs and mobile devices with built-in video cameras.
The Web-conferencing market consists of offerings that are predominantly cloud-based and span a variety of use cases, from small virtual collaborative meetings to large virtual events, such as webinars and webcasts. Web conferencing is still a stand-alone market, but is more frequently becoming a key requirement in unified communications and collaboration (UCC) purchasing decisions. Historically, enterprise buyers have been from lines of business where support for specific use cases (such as training and sales and marketing webinars) is needed. Strategic decisions involve enterprise IT around broader UCC initiatives.
Web conferencing benefits businesses in various ways. It can help to reduce geographic barriers for teams who need to work on projects or specific business processes. Training can be rolled out virtually to employees in multiple locations. There are potential productivity increases and cost reduction from reducing business travel. Because of worldwide economic trends, Web conferencing has become not only a way to cut expenses but the preferred method over travel in many organizations. With Web-conferencing tools, enterprises can also benefit from engaging with external constituents such as business partners and customers to continually build those relationships.
Source: Gartner (December 2012)
The Adobe Connect offering has maintained good traction in the education, government and defense verticals. Improved execution by Adobe has shown increased, broader adoption among enterprises. Adobe Connect supports iPhone, iPad and Android device access to conferencing sessions, and also allows presenters to host meetings from mobile devices with video. With its CQ social platform, part of Adobe's Web experience management solution, Adobe enables marketing leaders to extend Connect webinars and webcasts into topic-based social communities and groups. Pre-event management, customization and branding, postevent follow-up, and lead generation can be handled in CQ, which is integrated with Adobe Connect. Adobe Connect also has integrations with UCC environments, such as Microsoft Lync, IBM Sametime and Cisco Jabber. For a wide range of use cases and integrations with UCC infrastructures, enterprises should evaluate Adobe Connect.
Deployment models: On-premises, software as a service (SaaS) and hybrid, as well as managed services
- The user interface is configurable by the host of each meeting, and functionality can be extended by the use of pre-existing extensions or by creating them from scratch.
- Adobe has targeted expertise for education, enterprise, government and specific defense environments.
- Adobe Connect has integration with enterprise UCC infrastructure platforms.
- Gartner clients indicate that Adobe Connect tends to be one of the more expensive offerings, and that the licensing model can be complex to understand. Adobe has updated its pricing model in the recent release of Adobe Connect 9 to address this.
- Gartner clients have reported experiencing occasional VoIP audio problems when using Adobe Connect for webinars. Adobe guidance is for users to remember to clear the browser cache and cookies.
The AT&T Connect Web Conferencing solution is integrated into the AT&T communications infrastructure, and was an early leader in moving toward a converged conferencing environment with audio, Web and video. The solution supports a range of Web-conferencing use cases, from group collaborative meetings to training. Usually, audioconferencing is the main driver when enterprises choose the AT&T Connect Web Conferencing offering. It supports access from iPhones, iPads and Android devices. Enterprises with audioconferencing needs should consider AT&T as a provider for a bundled solution that includes Web conferencing. AT&T, as a carrier and service provider, is a reseller of other vendors' collaboration and infrastructure services. As with all conferencing service providers, it competes with itself when marketing its own Web-conferencing offering.
Deployment models: On-premises and SaaS
- AT&T's converged conferencing with audio, Web and video is good for use cases requiring multiple communications modalities.
- As a service provider, AT&T offers customers a single invoice for bundled Web, audio and video services.
- AT&T Connect does not support video on mobile devices, but AT&T advises that this capability will be released in the first half of 2013.
- AT&T Connect currently does not have integration with room-based videoconferencing systems. AT&T advises that this will be available in mid-2013.
The Blackboard Collaborate offering includes Web, video, voice and IM. The product is primarily targeted at educational institutions with key integrations into learning management systems. Virtual classrooms and training are where we see it being used most. Blackboard has improved mobility support to iOS devices where users can join sessions as participants. However, presenters will not be able to host sessions from mobile devices or tablets. Android devices are still not supported, but are in the plans. Blackboard has several enterprise clients using Blackboard Collaborate for corporate training initiatives, which are its sweet spot. It lacks integration into UCC clients and infrastructures, such as Microsoft Lync, IBM Sametime and Cisco Jabber, which will limit further enterprise penetration. For training and virtual classroom needs, Blackboard Collaborate is a viable candidate to evaluate.
Deployment models: On-premises and SaaS
- Blackboard Collaborate has cross-platform support for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Unix OSs.
- The predominant use case is for learning and virtual classroom scenarios, with integration into a wide range of commercial and open-source learning management systems. Blackboard has specific expertise in the education sector.
- Blackboard Collaborate does not support integration with UCC infrastructure platforms, such as those from Microsoft, IBM and Cisco.
- Mobile support for Android devices is still limited to playback of on-demand material. iPhone and iPad support is participant-only, and presenters cannot host a meeting from the device.
Cisco has revamped its WebEx offering with a new look and feel, and continues to support a broad range of use cases, from small collaborative meetings to webinars and virtual events. WebEx integrates with Cisco's WebEx Social (formerly Quad), allowing real-time meetings to be launched from its social platform. There is also integration with Cisco Jabber and Cisco Telepresence. Mobile support for iPhones, iPads and Android devices allows users to access and host meetings from those devices. Cisco has recently released WebEx Meetings Server for on-premises deployments in a private cloud environment for organizations that need that model. This will give Cisco a true hybrid deployment model, with both the cloud and on-premises offerings having the same code base. Organizations considering the on-premises offering should obtain guidance from Cisco regarding any feature disparities between deployment models.
Deployment models: On-premises, SaaS, and hybrid
- Cisco WebEx has the largest share of the Web-conferencing market in terms of new license revenue.
- The vendor has a well-rounded and integrated conferencing portfolio, ranging from telepresence to desktop-based Web conferencing and videoconferencing, which supports multiple endpoints, including most mobile devices, in a single meeting environment.
- Cisco WebEx has enhanced mobile support for Apple iOS and Android devices where meetings can be initiated from these devices, and has also included two-way video support for mobile devices.
- We hear from Gartner clients with smaller licensing deals of approximately 50 named hosts or less that their sales representatives were sometimes unresponsive.
- Licensing complexity remains an issue for some Cisco WebEx customers.
The Online Services Division of Citrix Systems is one of its fastest-growing business units. Citrix Online has maintained a huge viral marketing effort to promote the GoTo line of products for conferencing. The online collaboration area has grown to account for 20% of Citrix's overall revenue. The GoToMeeting Web-conferencing offering has increased brand awareness. The entire portfolio consists of GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToTraining, GoToAssist, GoToManage, GoToMyPC and HiDef Conferencing. The acquisitions of Netviewer in the conferencing space and, more recently, Podio in the social software space improve Citrix's global footprint and position in adjacent collaboration markets. Citrix supports iPhones, iPads and Android devices, and allows meeting organizers to host from those devices. The GoTo set of offerings is integrated with the Podio social solution. Citrix still lacks deeper integration with UCC platforms, such as those from Microsoft, Cisco and IBM. Citrix's sweet spot for its Web-conferencing portfolio is for departmental-use-case-based purchases, such as webinars, training and small collaborative team meetings.
Deployment model: SaaS
- Citrix Online has been growing, and accounts for 20% of Citrix's overall revenue.
- Citrix has moved into adjacent markets with the Podio integration and enhanced support for video and mobility.
- Citrix Online is weak in its integration with UCC infrastructure platforms from IBM, Microsoft and Cisco.
- For learning, training and webinar use cases, there is currently no breakout rooms capability.
Dialcom has shown growth and is expanding operations into various regions, such as India and Latin America. Its Spontania Web and video collaboration offering supports learning, distance learning and telemedicine use cases. It also has been optimized to support very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology. VSAT is useful for real-time interactions with remote locations and use cases, such as secure interactive learning sessions. A VSAT is a satellite transmitting and receiving station that transmits voice, video and data securely. This allows real-time learning in remote areas where there are no high-speed connections and recipients do not have the speed to receive video. The solution can be accessed from iPads, iPhones and Android devices. For video scenarios where bandwidth and network connectivity are concerns, Dialcom is a viable option.
Deployment models: On-premises and SaaS; the platform also can be deployed as platform as a service (PaaS)
- Dialcom supports multiple OSs and devices — Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone and Android — and integration with legacy videoconferencing systems.
- Dialcom Spontania supports adaptive bandwidth management so that it adapts to the most optimal transmission protocol depending on the network. It switches between TCP and UCP to support user endpoints.
- Dialcom supports HD video, allowing 10 HD streams in a single session.
- Because of Dialcom's size, support is limited in some regions, except through regional partners or distributors. This has caused companies in certain geographies to be hesitant about procuring its services.
- The Spontania product does not support breakout rooms, which we see used often in learning use cases for subtopic chats between participants.
FuzeBox is a smaller, emerging Web-conferencing vendor that offers support for desktop videoconferencing and mobility with Fuze Meeting. iPhones, iPads and Android devices are supported. Larger webcasting events are also supported with the Fuze Events module. The Fuze Telepresence Connect module allows companies to connect any PC or mobile device to telepresence systems. Fuze is increasingly appearing on shortlists for Web conferencing among more-established vendors, such as Cisco (WebEx), Citrix Online and Adobe (Connect). Although smaller, Fuze offers a competitive set of features. Integration with UCC clients and platforms (such as Microsoft Lync and Cisco Jabber) will give Fuze the opportunity to approach enterprise IT decision makers. Fuze should be evaluated as a Web-conferencing alternative when pricing and integration with existing UCC infrastructure are important.
- FuzeBox's Web and video offering has integration into major UCC infrastructure platforms.
- Mobile support is offered for the core Fuze Meeting offering and for third-party telepresence systems.
- Because FuzeBox is a smaller company, enterprises are cautioned that it is a potential acquisition target of larger vendors, which causes long-term support concerns.
- For webinar use cases, Fuze Meeting does not support polling and survey capabilities.
IBM Lotus Sametime Meetings is an on-premises Web-conferencing offering that is part of the broader Sametime social communications portfolio. The Sametime platform historically has been bought for IM and presence. IBM also markets stand-alone Web conferencing under the SmartCloud for Social Business brand, and we anticipate that this service will migrate to Sametime Meetings technology in the near future. Sametime Meetings can be accessed from mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android devices. Users can also host meetings from these mobile devices. Currently, users can attend meetings in the browser without downloading a client. This is beneficial for organizations with desktop lockdown environments. Evaluate Sametime Meetings as part of a strategic Sametime deployment, and evaluate the SmartCloud model for a hosted conferencing offering that supports small meetings and large virtual events.
Deployment models: On-premises (Sametime) and SaaS (SmartCloud)
- In addition to small collaborative group meetings, IBM offers webcasting and virtual event capabilities in SmartCloud for Social Business.
- The conferencing offerings are integrated with IBM's portfolio of products, the Microsoft Office environment and multiple videoconferencing systems.
- IBM supports zero-download, browser-based Web conferencing, which has become a requirement in enterprises that want to control what users download to their desktops.
- Because the technology in the SmartCloud Meetings offering will eventually transition to the Sametime Meetings technology, existing customers should obtain guidance from IBM regarding support during the transition.
- Sametime Meetings has limited support for a whiteboard capability, which is used in collaborative meeting use cases for capturing notes and brainstorming ideas.
InterCall Unified Meeting allows participants to attend meetings in the browser without downloading anything. Video can be enabled at any time during a meeting. Various use cases are supported, from sales presentations and marketing webinars to collaborative meetings and training. iPhones, iPads and Android devices are supported, with the ability to host meetings from the device via the MobileMeet application. InterCall resells Cisco WebEx and Adobe Connect, and has to compete with those offerings within its own portfolio. The main reason enterprises involve InterCall is when audio is the primary driver; the Web-conferencing services are then bundled in with audioconferencing. Enterprises seeking a bundled solution should evaluate InterCall.
Deployment model: SaaS
- Support for both small and large virtual meetings positions InterCall to cover several meeting use cases.
- InterCall's Web-conferencing offering does not require a software download, except for hosts and moderators. This will appeal to organizations that lock down desktops.
- Video is not yet supported on mobile devices; InterCall advises that it will be supported in the first half of 2013.
- The Genesys Meeting Center (from the Genesys acquisition), which is currently a part of the conferencing portfolio, is being phased out in the first half of 2013. Customers should obtain the road map for support. InterCall advises that clients will be contacted regarding upgrade options and the road map.
Microsoft has taken a step back in support of a broad range of Web-conferencing use cases with the end of life of the Live Meeting service. Lync Server 2013 (on-premises) and Lync Online (cloud) are both viable conferencing platforms, but they lack support for specific use cases that Live Meeting supports, such as training and webinars. Lync Server is targeted more at enterprises; therefore, Gartner's guidance is that enterprises can standardize on Lync Server for everyday use in ad hoc collaborative meetings, but will need to supplement with other conferencing offerings for specific use cases, such as training and large webinar events. Lync Online, which can be purchased stand-alone or within Office 365, can support small or midsize businesses (SMBs) and larger enterprises. Microsoft has recently added multiparty HD video to Lync, and promises to extend current mobile support for iPads, iPhones, Windows Phones and Android devices to include video and audio calling in early 2013. Some Web-conferencing competitors have already added capabilities to initiate and host conferences from mobile devices. Lync 2013 also allows for hybrid deployment scenarios between Lync Online and Lync Server on-premises. Because Microsoft is an infrastructure vendor, enterprises looking to standardize on a strategic UCC platform that includes conferencing should evaluate Lync.
Deployment models: On-premises, SaaS and hybrid
- Microsoft has integrated all its collaboration capabilities with its Office suite, including Outlook and SharePoint.
- Lync Online and the on-premises version share the same code base, which consolidates Microsoft's real-time collaboration capabilities in one offering and allows migration from the on-premises version to the cloud.
- HD video is supported, and there is integration with room-based videoconferencing systems.
- Not all use cases that were present in Live Meeting (such as webinars and training) can be specifically supported by Lync.
- Video and audio calling from mobile devices will likely not be available until 2013.
PGi, along with InterCall and AT&T, resells other Web-conferencing vendors' offerings, such as Cisco's WebEx. Also, like the other conferencing service providers, audioconferencing is the primary driver for enterprises choosing Web conferencing from PGi. PGi markets and sells two conferencing platforms, GlobalMeet and iMeet. GlobalMeet scales up to 125 participants, while iMeet supports 15 participants with video and social networking integration. PGi will have to reconcile these two offerings or communicate clear guidance to potential customers for when to use which offering. iMeet is newest, with support for use cases such as video recruiting, group video collaboration and healthcare counseling with remote patients. iPhones, iPads and Android devices are supported, and can also be used to initiate and host meetings. When the enterprise wants to bundle audio and Web conferencing with a single provider, PGi is a viable option.
Deployment model: SaaS
- PGi's iMeet supports an emerging set of use cases, such as video recruiting, healthcare counseling with remote patients and group video collaboration.
- No software download is required for GlobalMeet and iMeet, which makes them suitable for locked-down desktop environments.
- As a conferencing service provider, with GlobalMeet, PGi fits use cases for unified audio and Web conferencing.
- Gartner clients continually tell us they have road map concerns regarding PGi's direction for iMeet and GlobalMeet.
- Capabilities for user testing, breakout rooms and learning management system integration are not supported for learning and training use cases.
Saba's Web-conferencing offering, now branded Saba Meetings (part of Saba's real-time collaboration platform) was traditionally used more for learning and training scenarios. Saba has been more effective in the past year marketing the platform's capability to support more use cases, such as collaborative meetings and webinars. Saba also integrates its real-time conferencing offering and capabilities into Saba Social. It was one of the early vendors that moved down this path, which has become a growing trend. Saba also supports a satellite server architecture, which may benefit distributed organizations. It routes Saba Meeting traffic efficiently across a WAN by allowing organizations to break out and separately install the Saba Collaboration Server to the edges of the network to localize traffic. Saba Meeting can be accessed from iPhones, iPads and Android devices, and has improved to enable users to host meetings from those devices. Where corporate learning is a requirement, along with collaborative meetings and webinar use cases, enterprises should evaluate Saba Meeting.
Deployment models: On-premises, SaaS and hybrid
- Saba's satellite server architecture addresses bandwidth concerns for geographically distributed organizations.
- Integration of its own social software platform with real-time collaboration is a differentiator for Saba.
- Saba Meeting's integration of voice, video and Web data is available on iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
- In Saba Meeting 8, some Apple Mac users are reporting that they were not able to effectively use the video capabilities in the Mac OS X environment. However, the new HD video codec fully supports Macs.
- Saba Meeting does not support integration with room-based videoconferencing systems at this time.
We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor appearing in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. This may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or a change of focus by a vendor.
FuzeBox was added to this Magic Quadrant.
iLinc was dropped from this Magic Quadrant. Mobile device support is a required criterion, and the iLinc version 11.2.5 reviewed for this research does not support mobility.
We applied the following criteria for inclusion in this Magic Quadrant:
- The product must provide at least the following minimal functionality:
- Presentation delivery: All participants can see an online presentation (usually delivered by Microsoft PowerPoint), which is under the control of one participant designated as the presenter.
- Desktop or application sharing: All participants can see, but not directly interact with or modify, the presenter's desktop or a specific application on the presenter's system. Some Web-conferencing products deliver presentations by sharing a presentation application, rather than using embedded presentation facilities.
- Text chat: Participants can exchange real-time text messages with other participants or the presenter using an IM-like interface.
- Shared whiteboard: A meeting participant can add annotations — viewable by all — by typing or drawing on a whiteboard application, or on top of a presentation or shared application window.
- Basic security: Encrypted data transfer and password-protected meetings are provided.
- Integrated VoIP audio: To remove or reduce the need for telephone-based audio, some products can use a PC's speaker and microphone (or a headset) to enable participants to listen to a presentation or — more rarely — both listen and speak.
- Video: Some products can show live video feeds of participants or the presenter from a desktop webcam or dedicated video installation. Some vendors integrate these video streams into sessions running on dedicated videoconferencing equipment. Although video on mobile devices is already supported by some products, it is not a criterion for inclusion.
- Mobility: Specific support for mobile devices and tablets, such as iPhones, iPads, Android devices and Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry devices.
- The product must support at least five participants. Products that support one-to-one interaction or small groups are generally aimed at the consumer market or at other specialized markets not covered by this Magic Quadrant.
- The vendor must market the Web-conferencing product on a stand-alone basis, or as a component of a larger collaboration suite that may include presence and IM.
- The vendor must have at least $7 million in annual revenue from sales of Web-conferencing products.
- Sales and marketing efforts connected with the product must not be primarily limited to a particular vertical or horizontal process (such as training).
- The vendor must develop and market the primary Web-conferencing product, not resell a white-label product produced by another company in an OEM relationship. The product can be the result of an acquisition.
Service providers such as InterCall, AT&T and PGi are included in this Magic Quadrant because they market and develop their own Web-conferencing offerings. They also resell other vendors' products, but those are not considered in this evaluation.
The two key criteria that excluded some service providers and other direct Web-conferencing vendors were the requirements to have developed their own Web-conferencing solution and to have at least $7 million in annual Web-conferencing revenue.
Several factors contribute to the vendors' ratings for Ability to Execute:
- We evaluated the capabilities of the vendors' products separately for basic and advanced functionality.
- Because this market includes many small vendors with uncertain futures, financial viability was an important factor.
- We evaluated pricing in terms of comparative price levels and vendors' flexibility in supporting the kinds of pricing models that customers want (such as concurrent user, named user, per minute and flat rate).
- We judged the customer experience by speaking to Gartner clients that use the products and by calling users identified as reference customers by the vendors.
Source: Gartner (December 2012)
We evaluated the vendors' Completeness of Vision by examining customers' requirements for usage and purchasing, and by assessing how the products aligned with them:
- To evaluate vendors' marketing and product strategies, we looked at how they position their products and whether their products adequately address the chosen positioning.
- We rated the flexibility to support both SaaS and on-premises deployment models more highly than a strategy of concentrating on a single deployment model.
- We also evaluated vendors' product innovation and ability to address the trends we expect to see in the Web-conferencing market.
Source: Gartner (December 2012)
Vendors in the Leaders quadrant have achieved significant market share, while demonstrating an ability to respond to customers' needs. Leaders have robust, scalable products with a wide range of features, a large installed base, acceptable financial performance and good distribution. Leaders are doing well today and are prepared for the future.
Vendors in the Challengers quadrant are characterized by operational excellence and good standing in the market. Compared with vendors in the Leaders and Visionaries quadrants, either they do not have long-term road maps or their products lack some features.
Visionaries typically have important, unique and/or well-developed technical capabilities and provide key innovations that illustrate the future of the market. However, they have not yet developed the sales and support capabilities to address or influence the whole market.
Niche Players may have good technology, but are limited by their size, breadth of product line, track record in the market, vertical or horizontal focus, geographic niche, and/or financial circumstances. Some have chosen a niche strategy (for example, regional vendors with a local focus or targeted functionality intended to run on top of, or alongside, other technologies).
Web-conferencing services are still purchased mainly by individual departments and lines of business. IT leaders responsible for real-time technology and infrastructure should:
- Assess and inventory existing real-time assets.
- Engage technical architects to map out future architecture with respect to real-time technologies.
- Influence sourcing/procurement officers to ensure that future investments in real time are aligned to and can be integrated with the architecture.
More than ever, Web-conferencing decisions need to be made in light of other decisions about communications and collaboration infrastructure. Mobility and video support have also emerged as core decision criteria when buyers evaluate Web-conferencing offerings.
The Web-conferencing market is more than 15 years old. The cloud is still the predominant delivery model for Web-conferencing services, although UCC vendors usually provide on-premises and cloud options. The vendors in this market consist of service providers (such as AT&T, InterCall and PGi), UCC vendors (such as IBM and Microsoft), and best-of-breed Web-conferencing vendors (such as FuzeBox and Citrix).
There are several trends impacting the market, from pricing to increasing video and mobility support. Smaller and lower-cost vendors are disrupting the pricing dynamics, resulting in downward-facing pricing pressure, which is causing changes in licensing models to justify charging a premium for Web-conferencing services. Major vendors are also starting to offer freemium models; both Cisco and Adobe have free offerings that are intended to hook users and then upsell them to premium services. Integration of Web-conferencing capabilities with social networking and business applications and processes is also emerging. Video and mobile support is now a key requirement for enterprises looking to invest in Web-conferencing tools.
Although there were not many major acquisitions this year in this market, the acquisitions of Podio by Citrix and Meetings.io by Jive Software underscore the trend to bring real-time collaboration with social in the context of business processes and applications (see "Embed Social and Collaboration Functions in Processes to Boost Business Outcomes" and "Sources for Social and Collaboration Functions to Embed in Business Processes"). IBM's social business strategy, Cisco's WebEx Social, and Microsoft's potential strategy with Yammer, Lync and SharePoint also point toward this trend. It puts Web conferencing and other real-time capabilities a single click away within a business or office productivity application.
Integration of Web-conferencing capabilities with UCC infrastructure gives UCC vendors strong leverage in enterprises. Best-of-breed vendors must ensure integration with UCC offerings to gain further traction into enterprises beyond an individual line of business.
Specific use cases for Web conferences and virtual meetings are emerging and bringing a different set of vendors (see "Use Cases Should Determine Product Selection in Web Conferencing"). Use cases such as sales and marketing webinars and webcasts introduce specialist vendors (e.g., ON24 and TalkPoint) onto shortlists for purchasing decisions. In many cases in which events need to scale to multiple thousands of attendees with a high degree of customization and reporting, those specialist vendors may be a stronger choice. With this wide range of use cases and related vendors, the market is diversifying and bringing in new areas of competition between better-known Web-conferencing vendors and specialist vendors.
An emerging area of interest and investment by vendors is HTML5 and related protocols, such as WebRTC. The promise of WebRTC is that real-time communications, such as video, can occur in the browser and between browsers. While still early, this has the potential to disrupt conferencing delivery models, where a majority of offerings require users to download a client. We expect WebRTC first to impact consumer use of real-time capabilities in browsers and then to impact the enterprise.
Users have four basic deployment options for Web-conferencing applications:
- SaaS — Web-conferencing software runs on the vendor's (or a partner's) system on a multitenancy basis, and the user accesses the capabilities over the Internet (see Note 1).
- On-premises — Installs software on systems owned and operated by the enterprise.
- Hybrid — Combines the SaaS and on-premises models.
- Managed services — IT management of the Web-conferencing solution is completely outsourced and managed either directly by the Web-conferencing vendor or by a third-party provider.
The UCC vendor usually provides a strategic platform that includes an on-premises conferencing capability. Typical everyday internal meetings can be run using this on-premises facility. Unusually large meetings and those with both internal and external participants can be run using software running on external servers or hosted in the cloud.
Gartner defines SaaS as software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers an application based on a single set of common code and data definitions. The application is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time on a pay-per-use basis, or by subscription based on usage metrics.
Ability to Execute
Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor that compete in/serve the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills, etc., whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.
Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy, Organization): Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood of the individual business unit to continue investing in the product, to continue offering the product and to advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.
Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor's capabilities in all pre-sales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, pre-sales support and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.
Market Responsiveness and Track 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 in order 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, 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, etc.
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 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 product 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 set 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 verticals.
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.