Gartner MQ for Meetings

by Dave Michels

Gartner issued its Magic Quadrant for Meetings this month. It included 15 providers, three of which were declared Leaders: Microsoft, Cisco, and Zoom. Each has bragging rights. The three were clustered together well apart from the others. 

It was a big year for meetings, or as Gartner puts it, “All vendors in this market segment reported unprecedented demand for their meeting solutions.” The pandemic has expanded how meeting technologies are being applied. “As the use cases expand, meeting solution vendors will need to expand their feature sets.” We see this already in several sectors such as education, but there are tremendous opportunities for verticals we didn’t know existed.

Every job that can be done remotely became a remote job this year, and this creates lots of demand for new uses cases. For example, in this NoJitter post I wrote about virtual conferences. That’s a new vertical with new specialized use cases for video technologies. 

No big surprises on the MQ graphic. BlueJeans by Verizon appears poised to enter the Leaders quadrant. LogMeIn is in a similar situation but heading the other direction. It’s surprising to me that Google hasn’t done more with Meet, but its placement in Challengers seems reasonable. Not reflected on the graphic were large stride improvements made by Lifesize and Avaya

There were a few surprises in the text. WebRTC was never mentioned, but I expect to see rapid innovation from the growing body of WebRTC-based solutions over the next few years. Room panels were never mentioned, and digital whiteboards were only listed as cautions (twice). I expect 2021 will be a big year for both panels and boards. 

[This is an expanded portion of a section that appeared in the October Insider Report. You can subscribe to Insider Reports here.]

There are four Strategic Planning Assumptions in the 2020 MQ. 

  1. 11% CAGR 2019-2024. That’s already been exceeded, so either it’s unrevised or they are predicting a contraction. 
  2. In-person meetings will drop from today’s 60% in-person to 25% by 2024. Again, already nailed that in 2020 as well, but it’s a tricky claim. I don’t think meetings are either in-person or not; I expect the vast majority of meetings will have at least one remote participant. 
  3. 74% of companies will shift to more remote work — sounds plausible. 
  4. 50% of all room systems will be based on Android or Windows by 2023. If they are thinking about new system sales, 50% seems low. I think all MS and Zoom systems are Android or Windows. Cisco’s newer systems are also derived from Android. The bigger story here is that Android is emerging as the superior solution. 

Compared to the 2019 report, Cisco and Zoom swapped positions (but remain close), and Microsoft got much closer to both of them. LogMeIn dropped out of Leaders. Huawei crossed from Niche into Challenger. PGi, Enghouse/Vidyo, and ZTE were dropped, and Kaltura was added. 

What’s Ahead

In this MQ, Gartner presents a three horse race. I’ll come back to that, but first let’s take a look at where these three are headed: 

Cisco: Both Microsoft and Zoom got more aggressive over the past few years, while Cisco was distracted with AI. Now the company seems to have found its mojo. It’s back to monthly releases and Cisco appears to have stabilized its leadership. I expect Cisco to heavily leverage its hardware (desktop and room systems). All that AI (acquired MindMeld, Accompany, Voicea, and BabbleLabs) is paying off too. Cisco just rolled-out the finest noise mitigation technology I’ve (not) heard. 

Microsoft: Over the past two years Microsoft transitioned from fast-follower to leader in several regards. For example, it was first to market with blurred and shared backgrounds. Teams was a tough app to just learn, but the pandemic changed everything. Suddenly, the world had to reevaluate communications and workflows, and many organizations already had access to Teams. I expect Microsoft to further leverage its broad portfolio. Most recently it launched Productivity Score, which examines usage of Teams, Outlook, Office, and Edge. There will be increased promotion of trials to address ongoing demand for Meetings. Microsoft is in the rare position of being able to use meetings as a loss leader to sell other services. 

Zoom: If there is any enterprise communications provider that won the pandemic, it’s Zoom. The company has experienced the most growth, in part, because it services both consumer and business users. Zoom has a few tricks up its sleeve for future growth. The first is Zoom Phone. It’s not just another phone service, but one that is tightly integrated with meetings and available in 43 countries. Zoom just rolled out E2EE for video, giving it a significant differentiation from Microsoft (and Facebook). Lastly, I should highlight Zoom’s zoominess, or agility. Zoom is well positioned for ongoing growth. It has the brand momentum, an expanding portfolio, and name recognition. 

What’s Really Ahead

The bigger question is where meetings will fit in an enterprise strategy? Not long ago, many UCaaS providers positioned meetings as an add-on. We are now increasingly seeing telephony as the add-on to meetings. This is further complicated by Gartner’s MQ approach. 

The UCaaS MQ now requires that providers have a meetings capability for inclusion in the report. The 2020 report is imminent, but the 2019 report had four Leaders:  8×8, Cisco, Microsoft, and RingCentral. Zoom didn’t meet the UCaaS requirements in 2019, but will likely be in the 2020 UCaaS report. 8×8 and RingCentral presumably didn’t meet the requirements of the 2020 Meetings MQ. 

Increasingly, every enterprise is looking at UCaaS and Meetings, so should they look to Gartner’s UCaaS or Meetings MQ? It appears that the providers are squashing silos ahead of Gartner. This is more complex than meetings and telephony. Enterprise comms also includes messaging, contact center, and CPaaS.  Gartner’s MQ for CCaaS is expected soon. Gartner does not publish reports for messaging or CPaaS. 

There is a lot of confusion over which services should be bundled and which should be obtained separately? My guess is all four sectors will converge. There is abundant evidence of this. In addition to the every major UCaaS provider now offering messaging and meetings, we have also seen: 8×8, Avaya, Bandwidth, Microsoft, and RingCentral expand into CPaaS. We also saw Lifesize expand in CCaaS. Vonage was the first to have UC/CC/CPaaS/Video (and AI).

Do pure plays have a future?