Why isn’t Slack in the Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications?
Gartner released their latest Magic Quadrant for Unified Comms at the end of July. As keen onlookers into the enterprise collaboration space, we couldn’t help but ponder why some key messaging players like Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Google and others weren’t included. Slack never appears in any of the Magic Quadrants, but is heavily on the minds of enterprise IT & UC managers (who we work with daily at Mio).
Since this is something many others might have wondered as well, we’ve summarized our analysis and findings below. Read on to find out where Slack and other enterprise messaging apps fit into Gartner’s analysis, and our take on what this means for the future of UC.
“Unified Communications” according to Gartner
Unified Communications (UC) solutions are “services which boost user productivity and enhance business communication processes.” Although collaboration doesn’t have to be a component in a UC feature, Gartner does note that more companies are now integrating collaborative features into their UC apps.
Gartner explains that UC offers businesses the chance to integrate their comms and business apps. As such, recording and analytics should be part and parcel of a Unified Comms offering in 2018. To be included in this year’s Magic Quadrant for UC, companies had to comply with the following criteria:
- Offer a UC solution that unifies all areas defined by Gartner’s UC model. This includes telephony, meeting solutions (audio, web, and video), IM and presence, messaging (email, voicemail, UM)
- The ability to offer clients for multiple environments
- Be able to integrate with other communication applications like contact centres and collaboration services
- Be able to integrate their UC functionality into a complete solution on a consistent interface
- Have a significant market presence in at least 3 areas of UC (such as voice, video and messaging)
- Offer their services in multiple regions, including APAC, North America, and Europe
- Provide evidence of sales and revenue
- Provide proof of on-premises enterprise UC capabilities
Gartner’s view of the future UC market
Gartner draws attention to the state of the UC space today, highlighting further fragmentation the market. As businesses implement more core capabilities of UC into collaboration platforms (i.e. instant messaging and presence), this makes a lot of sense. Gartner also acknowledged that enterprises are pushing back against walled gardens and vendor lock down. Enterprises no longer want to be restricted to a single app, which is essentially the reason why we created Mio. Respondents to Gartner studies feel their needs are better served using multiple vendors to support UC and workgroup objectives.
As non-traditional working strategies and schedules become more popular, Gartner believes that UC marketplace leaders will focus more on enterprise chat as the central application. As we eagerly await the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS (ie- Unified Communications as a Service – not to be confused with the Unified Collaboration Quadrant- more on this later), we anticipate more collaboration-oriented players’ inclusion. However, without the core component of VoIP capability, we don’t expect to see Slack and many other modern enterprise messaging players appear here.
This supports Gartner’s idea that companies are moving more towards digital dexterity with tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx Teams. Gartner conducted a study of 3,210 workers in seven countries. Ultimately, they concluded that the ability to work anywhere with team collaboration leads to better business outcomes. Interestingly, Cisco and Microsoft are positioned as leaders in Unified Comms, even with their market leading collaboration platforms surely set to represent the MQ for UCaaS.
Enterprise messaging leaders in the UC 2018 Magic Quadrant:
Cisco achieved the leadership position in the MQ this year for several reasons. One quoted feature was the “WebEx” portfolio, which includes WebEx Meetings, Teams and Calling. Gartner outlined that the WebEx portfolio is set to see further enhancements in the future, which appeals to the “completeness of vision” requirement for a leading brand.
Cisco also continues to innovate across their UC services with noteworthy enhancements in their meeting, collaboration and chat-based applications. Gartner acknowledges Cisco has a powerful financial foundation, with good revenue growth over the last year. The company gets a strong scorecard from Gartner thanks to its ability to generate cash, it’s innovation, complete range of products and strong profit margins.
Bolstered further by the acquisition of BroadSoft last year, we’re sure to see Cisco high up in the MQ for UCaaS too.
2. Microsoft: Skype for Business & Microsoft Teams
Microsoft chose to abstain from participation in this year’s Magic Quadrant research process. This means that Gartner had to use other sources of information to determine whether Microsoft should maintain their position as a market leader. The MQ looked at discussions with Gartner clients using the Office 365 portfolio, as well as “Gartner Peer Insights.”
The MQ discusses the strength of Skype for Business as a communication service, as well as the ability to achieve better communication and collaboration through Microsoft Teams. Gartner recommends that companies continuing their Skype for Business (SfB) strategy should at least consider operating Microsoft Teams as a parallel solution. Microsoft has leadership potential because of its strong background in the communication and collaboration space. The company capitalizes on its presence in enterprise IT and office productivity. Microsoft, like Cisco, also has a strong financial position, which is important for Gartner leaders. And with “feature parity” on the agenda for Teams and SfB, we’re sure to see Microsoft remain leaders for years to come.
Completing the leaders in the MQ are Mitel and Avaya. Recognized in their own right as leaders in on-premises Unified Comms, perhaps Avaya and Mitel aren’t as far to the right as Cisco and Microsoft due to their lack of collaboration offering.
Enterprise messaging players not in the UC 2018 Magic Quadrant:
Unified Communications, by definition from Gartner, cannot include Slack today simply because Slack does not offer on-premises services, even for Slack Enterprise Grid customers. Gartner’s persistence of labelling the on-premises side of Unified Communications could lead a collaboration buyer to add additional UC services which might have a competing messaging component. Additionally, Slack does not meet the VoIP requirements for UC telephony.
Today, there is no Magic Quadrant specifically for enterprise collaboration tools. What Gartner does provide is Peer Insights for Social Software in the Workplace. Terminology could still be confusing for the collaboration buyer here as Slack (and many other included in this list) do not identify as social software but instead as “collaboration, messaging and team chat apps.” Slack, who now aims to be seen not as a “chat app,” but as a “collaboration hub,” still scores highest for the vendors with reviews averaging 4.5 out of 5.
Gartner has also provided a SWOT analysis of Slack in the worldwide market. Here, Gartner recognizes Slack’s influence on creating the workstream collaboration market (WSC). Slack owns the largest share of the WSC market due to constant addition of new features and capabilities.
In it’s SWOT, Gartner points out Slack’s weaknesses, highlighting it’s US-only data centers, a major concern for enterprises in EMEA and APAC. Gartner also mentions the lack of enterprise go-to-market strategy. Slack seems to be adopted without the use of a huge sales and marketing push, which doesn’t quite fit Gartner’s blueprint.
Finally, Slack’s opportunities balance the threats, both revolving around the size of the marketplace. Slack continues to penetrate the majority of the workstream collaboration market, but not the Unified Communications market where it’s competitors Microsoft Teams and Webex Teams sit.
2. Google: Google Hangouts Chat
Gartner’s on-premises criteria that disqualifies Slack from the UC Magic Quadrant also applies to Google.
Google Hangouts Chat is the messaging offering from Google, a further addition to the original Google Hangouts which is available with a paid G-suite subscription. Gartner published a Peer Insights for Google Hangouts Chat, which is almost as well received as Slack, averaging a 4.4.
3. Facebook: Workplace by Facebook
Like Slack, Workplace by Facebook doesn’t offer VoIP calling or come in an on-premises version. Gartner Peer Reviews shows an average of 4.4 for Workplace by Facebook too, putting them and Google Hangouts Chat and Slack all in close contention. Aside from Peer Reviews, Workplace by Facebook has little coverage from Gartner. This could be due to the definition of what Workplace by Facebook is and will be.
“Enterprise Social Media” is a term coined by the likes of Yammer. But, Facebook already has Facebook for social media, and Workplace by Facebook aims to be more than just social at work.
Differentiating Collaboration and Unified Comms
After dissecting the Gartner MQ, it becomes apparent that Unified Comms’s on-premises routes remain. Whilst Gartner recognizes the demand and functional requirements of collaboration in Unified Comms, the reality is that most modern messaging-first collaboration vendors were genuinely born in the cloud. As native SaaS providers, you could argue that Slack, Google and Facebook are steps ahead, in terms of their collaboration and messaging offerings.
Final takeaways for enterprise messaging
Whether or not we will eventually see a Gartner MQ for “collaboration software” is uncertain. The upcoming Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Comms as a Service will prove a useful indicator as to how seriously Gartner is looking at messaging platforms as the new way to communicate in businesses. Gartner references digital dexterity and focuses on integration into collaboration apps. But, with more and more enterprises building their communication strategies around messaging and team chat, rather than the telephone, Gartner’s focus could shift at some point.
In the mean time, many IT & UC buyers that we speak to want to support more than one vendor in their collaboration offering. They want to use Slack for its exceptional and highly rated UX, combined with recognized UC market leaders like Cisco Webex Teams or Microsoft Teams. In these environments, messaging interoperability is needed to support true unified communication. If you’re interested in see how Mio makes this possible, check out our demo videos for Slack + Webex Teams and Slack + Microsoft Teams, or check out this demo video of cross platform messaging.