Magic Quadrant for Workforce Engagement Management

Summary

Having truly engaged contact center employees presents an opportunity for differentiation and risk mitigation, and requires adjusting the mindset and technologies to manage agents’ day-to-day roles. This vendor evaluation will help application leaders committed to this change make the right choice.

Market Definition/Description

Workforce engagement management (WEM) solutions expand on the already mature workforce optimization (WFO) market by also accommodating technologies that help drive employee engagement within the customer engagement center.

WFO is an established multibillion dollar software market. Its emphasis during the past decade has primarily been to help improve the operational performance of the contact center. Key functional domains facilitate the recording and assessment of employee performance, combined with the ability to forecast and schedule staffing levels to ensure that operational service-level targets are met. Its core value proposition arises from the tight integration and workflow across these various functional domains (see “The Top 10 Cross-Function Workforce Optimization Processes” ).

This need to be operationally “well run” is still an important consideration and is at the heart of a WEM solution. But various key market shifts have occurred since the inception of WFO that now need to be factored in. Each of these factors requires much more emphasis to be placed on the employee (see “The Essential Shift From Workforce Optimization to Workforce Engagement Management” ).

Key areas of WEM functionality include:

  • Recruitment and onboarding
  • Evaluation and improvement
  • Time management
  • Assistance and task management
  • Metrics and recognition
  • The voice of the employee (VoE)

In addition to the vendors that provide a suite of functions eligible for analysis in this Magic Quadrant, there are vendors that are active in each of the individual submarkets, such as WFM or performance management (see “The Gartner CRM Vendor Guide, 2017” ).

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Workforce Engagement Management

Source: Gartner

Vendor Strengths and Cautions

Aspect

Aspect, based in the U.S., is a privately held company focusing on communications infrastructure and complementary WFO/WEM capabilities (it was included in the 2017 Magic Quadrant for contact center infrastructure). Gartner estimates that Aspect generated $110 million in revenue from WEM in 2017, reflecting a similar number to 2016. This can be partly attributed to an increase in the percentage of cloud bookings. Aspect is embracing the complementary aspects of WEM, and offers several capabilities. One example is the Aspect Mila natural-language interface, which allows agents to ask for information (such as the start time of their next shift) or to make requests (for example, a shift swap or vacation booking) by speaking/typing into their phone. Aspect is positioned as a Niche Player.

Strengths
  • WEM commitment: Aspect is committed to balancing the needs of the enterprise with the agent and the customer. Beyond the traditional WFO features that help drive operational performance, the company also offers engagement-centric features such as mobile support, gamification, real-time assistance, a natural-language interface (Mila) and RPA. Aspect is aligning its R&D to what it feels are the expectations of next-generation agents (such as “know me” and “fit into my life”).
  • Workforce management: Aspect’s WFM and performance management offerings within its overall WEM suite continue to be market-leading products.
  • Cloud focus: Aspect continues to grow its cloud revenue business, which now accounts for approximately two-thirds of its WEM revenue.
Cautions
  • WEM functionality: Aspect has some limitations in its engagement capabilities, such as functional limitations in the ability to push work tasks to remote agents on a mobile device, and limitations in interaction assistance and personalization capabilities.
  • Solution maturity: Aspect is currently still migrating some role-based functionality across to its newer user experience platform. This migration is complete for agents and supervisors, but power users/administrative roles still require access to the (somewhat dated) previous UI.
  • Go-to-market: Although Aspect regularly sells its WFM solution to non-Aspect CCI environments, WFO/WEM suite deals are primarily sold as extensions to new or existing Aspect CCI customers. In addition, the sales organization’s emphasis continues to be on selling WFO as opposed to the benefits of WEM.

Calabrio

Calabrio is a privately held U.S. company owned by private equity firm KKR. We estimate that Calabrio’s WEM revenue for 2017 was approximately $115 million, up 15% over 2016, and we expect this momentum to continue in 2018. Calabrio is a growing force in the WEM market. It has a strong vision for WEM and is rapidly evolving its existing leading WFO solution to better accommodate agent engagement. Calabrio focuses on providing a unified suite of functionality delivered through a single UI. Its commitment to the experience it provides customers has helped differentiate it from some of its larger competitors. Its solution provides solid capabilities across the main building blocks of WFO, but does have some omissions in terms of the broader WEM market. However, the vendor’s vision aligns well with WEM, and its R&D program is moving it toward a future leadership position, in Gartner’s view. Calabrio is positioned as a Visionary.

Strengths
  • Integrated WEM suite: Calabrio offers a unified WEM solution accessed through an easy-to-use, role-based UI. All core WFO functions are supported, but Calabrio has enhanced each one with a view to elevate employee engagement and not just drive operational performance. These include the introduction of dynamic scheduling to the WFM function, allowing agents to see what skills are needed when and to sign up for associated shifts.
  • Deployment flexibility: The WEM suite is available either on-premises or via the company’s multitenant cloud platform, which is built on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) architecture. Calabrio has also partnered with multiple CCaaS vendors, including Amazon Connect, Five9, BroadSoft and Serenova.
  • Customer-focused: Being customer-focused is one of Calabrio’s four foundational business mandates. Reference customers scored it the highest of any vendor in this Magic Quadrant in terms of its ability to understand customers’ needs and the overall experience provided, from implementation to ongoing support.
Cautions
  • Global execution: Although Calabrio is gradually expanding internationally, approximately three-quarters of its installed base are in North America and less than 10% of its customers are in Europe. This is reflected in the limited number of languages it supports and the limited awareness of Calabrio outside of North America.
  • WEM functionality: Calabrio currently lacks some best-of-breed employee engagement capabilities that are not needed for WFO — but are key parts of a WEM suite. Examples include agent guidance and automation tools, cross-function agent mobility, and VoE.
  • Sales execution: Calabrio’s sales model is still primarily indirect (25% came from direct sales in 2017) and, although its platform is technically ACD-agnostic, the company relies mainly on partners that focus on Cisco and Avaya environments. Of Calabrio’s approximately 160 reseller partners, over 140 of them focus on the Cisco environment.

Genesys

Genesys is a privately held CCI software vendor based in the U.S., with offices and partners across the world. Gartner estimates that the company generated more than $1.3 billion in 2017, up from more than $900 million in 2016 (although 2017 revenue reflects the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence on 1 December 2016 for its SMB-oriented CCaaS and WFO solution). Gartner estimates that $150 million of the 2017 revenue came from its various WEM product lines. Genesys provides a comprehensive WFO solution. Its WEM vision is centered on providing agents with a flexible and unified working environment that is driven by embedded analytics, to ensure the right skills, motivation and knowledge are available for each interaction. AI-powered predictive WFM and further-integrated agent workspace features planned for 2018 demonstrate a continued focus on improving its WEM viability. Genesys is positioned as a Niche Player.

Strengths
  • Unified desktop and mobile: The Genesys Workspace portal provides a single UI for employees for all day-to-day activities, allowing them to engage with customers, be assigned tasks, receive relevant knowledge and view WEM information. Genesys has released an updated interface providing full WFM capabilities from mobile devices.
  • Skills management: Genesys’ solution provides agents with insight into their knowledge profile and helps them identify outstanding training/learning. Skills can be assessed and the scheduling of relevant training can be automated. Employee assistance is also available in the form of “knowledge nudges” and e-learning to keep them up to date on new/special offers, unplanned events or current trends.
  • WFO underpinning: Genesys’ WEM vision is built on an established multichannel WFO platform with strong core features across its WFM and analytics-driven Quality Management (QM) modules. The solution has gained momentum in the market, both on-premises and in the cloud.
Cautions
  • Engagement features: Much of Genesys’ suite has yet to be optimized from an employee engagement perspective. WEM doesn’t seem to be a driver in any customer reference beyond WFM shift visibility. The WFM, QM and coaching tools need to be more flexible and self-service-oriented, and the mobile application lacks functionality. Various partners are needed to provide features such as gamification and real-time communication for mobile schedule interaction. More out-of-the box employee personalization functionality is needed.
  • Go-to-market: The Genesys WEM suite is intended to run only with the associated Genesys CCI platform both on-premises and in the cloud, limiting its addressable market. It is increasingly difficult for customers to benefit from interoperability with third-party systems due to the associated cost and integration complexity. Procurement is complicated by Genesys having three CCaaS platforms for different profiles of organization, each with associated WEM capabilities. R&D is committed to improving and sharing functionality across these offerings, but maintaining all three is not optimal and their individual long-term future is questionable.
  • Market execution: Most customers are running only QM or WFM. Genesys reference customers scored value for money the lowest of any qualifying vendor and also cited the longest average deployment time — over six months. They perceived the solution to be complex to install and run, and having a high TCO. The sales organization is not yet positioning WEM over WFO, so customers are not yet buying it.

NICE

NICE is a large global company that we estimate generated revenue of approximately $1.3 billion in 2017, up over 20% on 2016, of which more than half came from WEM. NICE has a sophisticated WEM portfolio from which an increasing percentage of customers are purchasing more than one domain — WFM, recording/QM or performance management. NICE has cemented its move to the cloud with the launch of an integrated cloud platform that supports both its CCaaS (acquired from inContact) and newly developed WEM offerings. Some strengthening of the cloud-based WEM offering is required, but the gulf between the existing on-premises/hosted version and the more modern SaaS-based iteration will diminish through 2018. NICE is positioned as a Leader.

Strengths
  • Personalized approach: NICE differentiates by wrapping traditional WFO functions around individual employee personas — a powerful approach to driving employee engagement (although adoption has yet to accelerate). Scheduling, evaluations, training, performance goals and incentives are all driven by three key facets that make up each persona: metrics (e.g., adherence, fist-call resolution), attributes (e.g., knowledge, personality) and preferences (e.g., career aspirations, desire to work at home, mornings or afternoons).
  • Advanced analytics: NICE’s strong analytic portfolio helps drive its WEM vision by providing key insights from a range of sources. In addition to operational goals, it also drives employee engagement. For example, speech analytics uncovers employees’ moods and perspectives, and desktop analytics gives a perspective on their tasks and day-to-day experience — both can then be used to assist with interactions, and automation tools can remove repetitive tasks.
  • Broad suite: NICE’s suite has leading capabilities across all main traditional WFO functions as well as complementary engagement-focused features, such as VoE, gamification, interaction assistance and robotic process automation. The recent acquisition of WorkFlex Solutions adds an intraday management capability with strong agent communication functionality, helping agents keep in the loop with ad hoc things such as urgent overtime requests.
Cautions
  • Solution adoption and value: Customers predominantly view NICE as a leading WFO solution provider, and struggle to articulate how it drives engagement beyond its basic aspects (e.g., providing centralized performance data, flexible scheduling options). Customers are struggling to capitalize on the product’s depth and breadth of functionality, for which they have paid a premium, and consequently question the solution’s value for money.
  • Customer support: Although NICE continues to evolve its support organization, Tier 1 support needs further improvement, as cited by its reference customers. Customers have also cited challenges with the current setup and claimed that NICE representatives lack knowledge and do little more than triage their issues. Tier 2 support is required more often than it should, which adds time and frustration.
  • WEM technology consolidation: NICE has several platforms that each provide some form of WFO/WEM capability: a SaaS platform for CCaaS and WEM, an on-premises/hosted WFO solution, and various acquired solutions. The SaaS platform’s multitenant WEM functionality lacks sophistication versus the on-premises version — customers with complex needs that want to align their CCaaS and WEM portfolio would need to integrate a hosted version of the older platform for the time being.

OpenText

OpenText is a large, Canadian, global provider of enterprise information management solutions. It entered the WFO/WEM market following the acquisition of various contact center technologies from HP Inc. in 2016. OpenText generated approximately $2 billion in revenue in 2017, of which Gartner estimates $40 million came from WFO/WEM functions. Brand awareness around these acquired products is still low, despite the underpinning platform once being a leading QM and recording offering. OpenText is doing much to address this, including forging new cloud partnerships such as with Amazon Connect to extend visibility. Significant development is needed to elevate its current offering to that of a leading WEM provider, but there are signs of this commitment. The main weakness for OpenText is its OEM reliance for WFM, which is a key building block of WEM. OpenText is positioned as a Niche Player.

Strengths
  • Evaluation and coaching: Based on the acquired Qfiniti platform, OpenText has a proven, scalable offering to help record, evaluate and analyze agent interactions. It helps elevate existing coaching programs with intelligent scorecards, automated scoring and coaching tips. In 2018, the company will add AI capabilities, allowing for a more intelligent and personalized approach to catering for individual employee needs and preferences.
  • OpenText portfolio: OpenText has a broad portfolio of solutions spanning various information management domains. Several of these, such as process guidance and desktop unification, will be applicable to WEM. Alignment of these solutions with its WEM offering would help accelerate the evolution and viability of the current solution.
  • Customer relationships: Reference customers and client calls throughout the year all cited having a good working relationship, with strong communication from OpenText. Support is often called out as an area that customers are particularly pleased with.
Cautions
  • Solution maturity: Given OpenText is catching up with more-mature peers, it understandably still positions the solution primarily as a WFO platform. Refinement of existing WFO capabilities and overlay of various engagement-oriented functionality have yet to occur. A lack of investment in the core offering over the past few years requires OpenText to balance its R&D across existing core WFO functions while innovating around WEM.
  • Brand awareness: The core platform has struggled to blossom ever since the original owner was acquired by Autonomy a decade ago. OpenText’s commitment to the WFO/WEM product line is encouraging, but brand awareness is still very low.
  • WFM OEM reliance: Given WFM is a core part of WEM, OpenText’s reliance on an OEM (WFMSG or Teleopti) for core WFM functionality compromises solution development, cross-domain workflow and the user experience. These OEMs have similar relationships with other vendors, diluting commitment and raising potential acquisition concerns.

Verint

Verint is a large, established, U.S.-based global provider of customer engagement (which includes CEC and WEM) and security software. We estimate that it generated approximately $1 billion in revenue in 2017, the same as in 2016. Approximately two-thirds of the revenue came from customer engagement functionality. Verint offers a unified WFO solution deployed by thousands of organizations around the world. The company has market-leading capabilities across most domains, including interaction analytics, but its main advantage is seamless integration of, and seamless workflow across, the various functions. This provides an ideal platform to build on and embrace WEM — which is now, importantly, also available as a multitenant SaaS model through Verint’s own data centers and its partner network. Verint’s vision is aligned well with WEM, and the company already has a range of complementary technologies that can help drive employee engagement, including some CEC capabilities not available from other WEM vendors. Additional development is needed to fully embrace employee engagement as an “overlay” to WFO. Verint is positioned as a Leader.

Strengths
  • Unified WFO suite: Verint provides a unified, workflow-driven suite spanning all core traditional functions, and with best-of-breed capabilities across many domains. The company has a large number of strong partnerships, including several CCaaS vendors, which all leverage Verint’s suite of solutions.
  • Engagement capabilities: Verint provides various features beyond that of a traditional WFO suite, which help cement its position as a leading WEM vendor. A few key examples include gamification, mobile support, process automation and guidance, workflow, and VoE. Verint also has a frontline agent customer steering council to provide direct input into future WEM-related product design.
  • CRM alignment: Verint is unique in that it can leverage functions from its complementary CRM portfolio, such as knowledge management and community, to further drive employee engagement — although we have yet to see much adoption of these. Acquired from Kana, the knowledge management capability allows the WEM solution to create “knowledge assets” based on speech analytics, QM and other relevant insights. These assets can be delivered to employees as needed in interactions — either manually or as determined by desktop analytics and/or real-time speech analytics. Acquired from Telligent, the community solution helps facilitate real-time peer-to-peer requests for shared insights, support and ongoing mentoring roles.
Cautions
  • Engagement capabilities: Verint has been refining its existing WFO capabilities to make them more engagement-oriented, such as adding flexibility to the WFM tool. However, further modifications are needed to help personalize aspects of employees’ work life based on their individual preferences and personality traits.
  • Organizational needs: Customers sometimes claim to be overwhelmed by options, given the product is so broad and sophisticated. Verint needs to assign more resources upfront to better scope projects. Multiple reference customers cited their desire for more time during implementation to focus on the associated change management and training needs required to fully leverage the offering. Verint is addressing this with a new business advisory services offering.
  • Portfolio complexity and execution: Verint continues to acquire vendors to strengthen its go-to-market offerings (most recently OpinionLab, eg solutions and Next IT), but this adds complexity to the portfolio and in some cases increases the company’s overall debt. Further, despite this broadening portfolio and associated increase in revenue from its customer engagement business, revenue for Verint overall remains flat.

ZOOM

ZOOM is a small U.S. contact center WFO software vendor selling exclusively through its global network of partners. Gartner estimates that it generated approximately $40 million in 2017, up 10% over 2016. ZOOM is an established provider of interaction recording and agent evaluation and coaching software. This is its core competency and it has hundreds of customer globally using it in this capacity. ZOOM is passionate about customer satisfaction and views this as its key differentiator in the market. The vendor is proven in the QM space but currently lacks credibility as a WFO vendor. It has yet to fully transition its roadmap and market positioning around WEM. ZOOM is positioned as a Niche Player.

Strengths
  • Evaluation and coaching: Complemented by its interaction analytics capabilities, ZOOM’s core software is a viable solution to help organizations understand agent performance traits, preferences and personas. It provides personalized guidance to help drive engagement.
  • Cisco relationship: ZOOM has a long-standing relationship with Cisco: ZOOM is a Cisco solution partner, is available on the Cisco Marketplace and is compatible with Cisco’s new collaboration platform, Spark.
  • Customer satisfaction: Despite currently lacking a formal reference program, ZOOM appears to have a high level of customer satisfaction across its customer base. It claims an overall customer NPS score of 86 for the first half of 2017. The customers Gartner have spoken too throughout the year and for this Magic Quadrant have all been complimentary, with ZOOM scoring highly in this area of our reference survey.
Cautions
  • Solution maturity: ZOOM is still evolving from being a QM vendor to a WFO vendor. Although this provides a good foundation for WEM, the solution currently lacks numerous WEM capabilities. In addition, the underlying architecture has yet to evolve to be fully multitenant. The company’s small stature and limited R&D budget will likely stifle rapid progress.
  • Enterprise viability: ZOOM’s focus is primarily in the midmarket (50 to 500 agents). Although it claims that it can scale higher, this midmarket focus will impact the product and company direction, increasingly reducing its viability for large, complex organizations.
  • Teleopti reliance: Given WFM is a core part of WEM, ZOOM’s current reliance on Teleopti for core WFM functionality compromises solution development, cross-domain workflow and the user experience. ZOOM plans to own its own WFM offering in 2018, but time will be needed for that product to mature.

Vendors Added and Dropped

We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant may change over time. A vendor’s appearance in a Magic Quadrant one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. It may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or of a change of focus by that vendor.

Added

  • OpenText
  • ZOOM

Dropped

  • Teleopti (did not meet the functional criteria for inclusion)
  • Noble Systems (did not provide sufficient evidence to substantiate its inclusion)

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To be included in this Magic Quadrant, vendors are required to have:

  • A solution that ideally provides both workforce management (WFM) and employee evaluation software as part of an integrated offering. However, if only one of these is provided directly then the other one must be provided via an OEM agreement, not a simple partnership/reseller agreement, and they would need to be able to prove:
    • Seamless integration between the two domains (including, but not limited to, single sign-on)
    • A unified user experience
    • Extensive in-house resources to sell, deploy, configure and support the entire suite
  • A solution that provides two or more of the following functions:
    • Recruitment and onboarding
    • Coaching and e-learning
    • Interaction assistance and task assignment
    • Performance management and gamification
    • Interaction analytics
    • Voice of the employee
  • A degree of integration among these core functional elements, such as a single administration environment and prebuilt workflows.
  • At least $20 million in WEM revenue during the 12 months prior to the start of the process of producing this Magic Quadrant.
  • A strategy and development roadmap for moving beyond the requirements of an operationally focused WFO platform to embrace employee engagement,* with supporting evidence of some existing engagement-focused capabilities.
  • Five new reference customers that have deployed WFM and employee evaluation functionality in an integrated environment during the 12 months prior to the start of the process of producing this Magic Quadrant. All five references need also to be able to demonstrate credentials that helped elevate employee engagement above and beyond that provided by the core WFM and evaluation features.
  • Financial viability — that is, sufficient cash to continue operating at the current burn rate for 12 months.

* Gartner defines an engaged employee as someone who feels that their work matters and is willing to invest discretionary effort.

As previously cited, the requirement to have a robust underpinning WFO platform that can drive operational performance does not go away. Gartner has therefore assessed each solution’s ability to optimally forecast, schedule, evaluate and train agents within an omnichannel customer engagement center. Each vendor’s ability to deal with non-phone-related activities, such as email, chat and social media, was scrutinized, as was its ability to deal with blended environments. In addition, an emphasis on solution integration/unification and supporting embedded analytics has grown in importance, as has the ability to support both on-premises and SaaS-based deployments.

However, with the shift in emphasis from WFO to WEM, we have also explored each vendor’s vision with regard to placing an increased emphasis on the employee. We looked at the associated functionality — both that available now and via the vendor’s roadmap — that will help elevate employee engagement. Specific areas explored include mobility, gamification, interaction assistance tools, user experience, VoE and the ability to personalize all core WFO functions to the needs of an individual employee. As an example of this shift of focus, we looked at WFM not just through the lens of “an operational tool used to drive cost reduction through head count reduction,” but also from the point of view of “a flexible platform designed to allow employees to self-manage their work-life preferences.”

Honorable Mentions

Several other vendors are on the verge of inclusion in this Magic Quadrant, all of which provide WEM suite capabilities either directly or via OEM agreements. Their omission is a result of factors ranging from their revenue to the breadth of their functionality, to simply Gartner not being able to gather sufficient information to position them appropriately. Examples include:

  • Collab
  • dvsAnalytics
  • Globitel
  • OnviSource
  • Monet Software
  • Netcall
  • Pipkins

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

The WEM software market is only just beginning to merge after a decade of operationally focused WFO platforms. Some vendors have developed in-house solutions built on an established core competence, while others have acquired — or use an OEM to access — the necessary complementary technologies. This creates significant variation in product capabilities, which is reflected in the high weighting for the Product or Service criterion.

  • Product or Service: This criterion assesses the depth and breadth of a vendor’s WEM-related functions, as listed in the Market Definition/Description section. The core (underpinning) operational-focused WFO elements are assessed in addition to the overarching employee engagement features. Additional emphasis is placed on the degree of integration and workflow across these domains, beyond their siloed provision. The architectural underpinning and provision of aspects such as role-based UIs are also evaluated. Credit is given for OEM solutions, but not for reseller partnerships. Support for SaaS is given additional credit, but is not yet deemed essential for leadership.
  • Overall Viability: This criterion assesses a vendor’s ability to ensure the continued viability of its WEM suite by demonstrating that it has a strong product development team to support current and future releases, and a clear product roadmap. This criterion also covers a vendor’s financial health — its size, growth and profitability — with particular emphasis on the financial health of its WEM business (for those whose solutions extend beyond the WEM market). It also looks at aspects such as cash reserves and operational expenditure.
  • Sales Execution/Pricing: This criterion assesses a vendor’s ability to provide global sales and distribution coverage of its WEM suite directly and/or through partnerships. Each vendor must have experience of selling a WEM product to an appropriate buying center. Each must offer consistent and comprehensible pricing models and structures — including contingencies for, for example, failure to perform as contracted, and mergers and acquisitions. Pricing structures that support large enterprises and SMBs, as well as in-house and SaaS-based deployments, are important.
  • Market Responsiveness/Record: This criterion assesses a vendor’s desire to — and its expertise and organizational flexibility in being able to — perceive evolving customer requirements and communicate these insights back to the market, as well as to create future WEM products to meet customers’ changing needs.
  • Marketing Execution: This criterion assesses a vendor’s ability to consistently generate awareness of, and demand for, its WEM solution through marketing programs and press visibility. The clarity, quality and creativity that go into this are just as important as the revenue assigned to generate new sales leads and increase brand awareness. Because some aspects of the value proposition supporting the adoption of WEM solutions are subtle, additional effort is needed compared with more traditional software markets.
  • Customer Experience: This criterion assesses aspects related to ensuring that each customer has ongoing success with its WEM deployment. Aspects considered include a vendor’s global technical support (whether provided directly or via partners), account management, user groups and panels, and customer communities. Each vendor must provide sufficient proof of the ongoing viability and acceptance of its product in the market.
  • Operations: This criterion explores a vendor’s ability to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure (taking account of skills, experience, programs, systems and other assets) that enables a vendor to operate. This criterion also covers management experience and track record, and depth of staff experience, specifically in the WEM market. Every vendor needs sufficient professional services — whether delivered by in-house staff or third-party business consultants and system integrators — to meet customers’ evolving requirements.
Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation CriteriaEvaluation Criteria

Weighting

Product or Service

High

Overall Viability

Medium

Sales Execution/Pricing

Medium

Market Responsiveness/Record

Medium

Marketing Execution

Medium

Customer Experience

High

Operations

Medium

Source: Gartner (February 2018)

Completeness of Vision

Vendors in the customer engagement center WEM software market differ significantly in background and vision. Some view WEM as part of an end-to-end contact center solution that includes other CCI components. Others view it as an enterprisewide solution for optimizing employee performance and engagement. The immaturity of the market, as well as the potential diversity of engagement-focused features that can be added to complement WFO, result in extensive roadmap plans for many vendors. Consequently, we attribute higher weightings to factors such as market understanding, product vision and strategy, as well as WEM-related innovation.

  • Market Understanding: This criterion assesses the degree to which a vendor understands the needs and wants of customer engagement centers and embeds them into its WEM product and service vision. We look for alignment between strategic customer engagement center goals (such as efficiency and revenue growth) and the specific functions and cross-functional capabilities within a vendor’s WEM solution. We still commonly hear of ongoing organizational concerns among clients, such as with ease of use, clarity of pricing, vendor footprint and proof of ROI. We also hear of clients’ desire to develop a relationship with their vendor, rather than just being its customer.
  • Marketing Strategy: This criterion assesses the consistency and clarity of a vendor’s marketing strategy, the degree of differentiation associated with its positioning of WEM products (both internally and externally), and the relationship of these to its overall vision and brand values.
  • Sales Strategy: This criterion assesses a vendor’s approach to selling WFO products directly and through global partnership networks. A diverse range of capabilities, from strategic account management to industry expertise and targeting, are assessed. In an emerging market such as that of WEM software, an awareness of the need for some education of customers about the role and impact of WEM products is crucial.
  • Offering (Product) Strategy: This criterion assesses the strategic direction of a vendor’s WEM product and its R&D roadmap, as well as the impact these will have on customers. We assess factors such as commitment to a single codebase, product usability, support for SaaS, OEM partnerships versus internal development for missing functionality, industry specifications and prebuilt workflows.
  • Business Model: This criterion assesses a vendor’s overall business proposition and its commitment to WEM.
  • Vertical/Industry Strategy: This criterion assesses a vendor’s ability to provide both standard and tailored solutions for specific industries.
  • Innovation: Some technologies, such as WFM technologies in the WEM software market, are mature, so the potential for significant innovation is limited. However, innovation can still be achieved. This criterion assesses, for example, the alignment of these agent-centric technologies so that they act as one solution through unification and embedded workflows. Beyond this, it assesses the significant innovation potential that can be realized by extending support for communications beyond audio calls to, for example, emails, chat sessions and social media dialogues, and by introducing advanced analytics and embracing mobile interfaces tailored to each role.
  • Geographic Strategy: This criterion assesses whether a vendor understands the needs of the three largest markets — Europe, North America and Asia/Pacific — and knows how to build a strategy to focus on aspects of the overall market, whether directly or through partners. It also assesses whether a vendor delivers products and services that are in line with the needs and capabilities of buying centers.
Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation CriteriaEvaluation Criteria

Weighting

Market Understanding

High

Marketing Strategy

Medium

Sales Strategy

Medium

Offering (Product) Strategy

High

Business Model

Medium

Vertical/Industry Strategy

Low

Innovation

Medium

Geographic Strategy

Medium

Source: Gartner (February 2018)

Quadrant Descriptions

Leaders

Leaders provide functionally broad and deep WEM solutions that can be deployed and supported globally. Their software is suitable for enterprises of all sizes and complexity, and they have broad industry coverage. Their revenue is strong and new references are readily available.

Challengers

Challengers tend to be viable, with good global execution, but they often lack an in-depth understanding of the true business value of WEM beyond a check-box-type provision for each functional domain and a likely historical focus on the operational objectives of a WFO solution. Challengers may lack control over each functional domain and may therefore find fully integrated workflow-driven capabilities more difficult to deliver.

Visionaries

Visionaries deliver innovative and potentially market-changing solutions, but they struggle to meet the needs of all organizations due to geographic limitations, company size constraints and/or specific product omissions.

Niche Players

Niche Players offer solutions that provide functionality associated with WEM, but perhaps as part of a different overall value proposition. They may also lack specific functional domain coverage. Niche Players may offer complete portfolios, but focus on only one size of organization or one region; they may have a limited ability or even desire to extend globally.

Context

Gartner recommends that WEM solutions be considered strategically within customer engagement centers, as they not only help to improve operational performance but also elevate employee engagement. Key market and societal shifts require a repositioning of how organizations manage employee engagement within their contact centers. Organizations need to assess the potential needs, expectations and aspirations of the next generation of employees within their centers. The impact a motivated and engaged employee can have — not just on operational performance, but also on the customer experience — should not be underestimated and should help justify future investment.

It may take several years for an organization to adopt a unified WEM solution, depending on the organization’s current approach to workforce optimization and existing investments, protracted procurement cycles, and vendor maturity. Nonetheless, all customer engagement centers with more than 100 agents should be working toward this ideal.

As the market evolves, it is highly likely that the main providers of WEM software will be CCI vendors, with several appearing in this Magic Quadrant (and many more expected to qualify for inclusion in the coming years). Vendors with market-leading offerings, such as NICE and Verint, will likely remain, albeit with visions that extend beyond WEM in order to ensure their long-term survival.

Market Overview

WEM is a concept that most WFO vendors are only just coming to terms with. The majority of end-user organizations still view investment in these platforms as a means to drive operational performance. As previously stated, this objective will not diminish during future procurement cycles, but it will become a “given.” The benefits of deploying an integrated suite with strong core functionality and cross-functional workflows will not need to be explained, nor will it continue to be a means of differentiation in the long term. Instead, the need to drive employee engagement will become an increasingly important factor and a key means of innovation and differentiation for the vendors in this market during the next few years. Analytics will be at the heart of much of this new functionality.

All vendors have extensive roadmaps to change the nature of their rather cumbersome WFO solutions to become more agile and employee-focused WEM solutions. Some vendors have a head start in this change, but more investment is needed by everyone.

A key aspect overlooked with WFO is the notion of thinking about the employee outside of the office environment. When looking at the world from the point of view of an employee, a myriad of functional opportunities reveal themselves. For example, no vendor has yet considered the ability to support “commute-based coaching” — where an employee can undertake training from their phone or tablet while on the way to work, thereby freeing up their learning break that day for personal time.

A few interesting facts about this market:

  • Adoption of WFO software has increased steadily during the past three years, with more than 2,000 purchases of integrated solutions.
  • Interaction recording will ultimately become a commodity, associated with the CCI and CCaaS markets. What will be differentiated is the way software vendors can leverage these third-party recordings to evaluate employee performance and engagement.
  • Adoption of WEM as a service is not yet mainstream, but is accelerating rapidly. The move of CCI to the cloud is resulting in a WEM technology refresh cycle and the common scenario of attaching WEM functionality to the CCaaS platform investment.
  • Mobile support for agents is increasing, but adoption is low. Most solutions currently lack capabilities beyond the obvious WFM-focused ones, such as the ability to view schedules and make shift change requests.
  • Agent recruitment and onboarding processes have largely been overlooked by WEM vendors, because they are perceived as requiring stand-alone technologies that are linked more closely to the HR domain. However, as WFO has evolved to WEM, there are numerous synergies and best practices that WEM vendors can provide, so this area is likely to see developments and acquisitions.
  • Technologies that help drive engagement through interaction assistance (such as next-best action, process guidance and process automation) are not new, but have previously been niche markets with no obvious overarching “home” because they fall outside the scope of CRM, CCI and WFO. As an important dimension of WEM, we expect various OEM and acquisition announcements from WEM vendors to be made during the coming years.
  • The VoE is seldom acted upon and usually relies on crude and infrequent mechanisms of capture. WEM requires that more-advanced features are available to capture both planned and ad hoc feedback from employees, which, of course, then needs to be listened to and acted upon.

Acronym Key and Glossary Terms

ACD automatic call distribution CCaaS contact center as a service CCI contact center infrastructure QM quality management SMB small or midsize businessTCO total cost of ownership VoE voice of the employee WEM workforce engagement management WFM workforce management WFO workforce optimization

Evidence

In researching this Magic Quadrant we drew on:

  • Discussions with users of Gartner’s client inquiry service (more than 200 each year on this topic)
  • Face-to-face meetings with Gartner clients
  • Vendors’ responses to detailed questionnaires specific to this Magic Quadrant
  • Interviews with vendors’ reference customers
  • Vendor briefings over a 12-month period
  • Generally available information, news reports, and data from financial and industry publications
  • Knowledge acquired from vendors’ analyst conferences and industry tradeshows
  • Discussions with other Gartner analysts
  • Critiques by Gartner managers and during Gartner peer reviews
  • Vendors’ reviews for factual accuracy

Evaluation Criteria Definitions

Ability to Execute

Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization’s financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization’s portfolio of products.

Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor’s capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.

Market Responsiveness/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 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 initiatives, 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 and so on.

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 to 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 products 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 sets 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 vertical markets.

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.

Source: gartner.com-Magic Quadrant for Workforce Engagement Management

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Gartner’s predictions — a look at the top 10 tech trends

Three of Gartner’s top 10 technology trends envision significant changes — and problems — with data centers.

The number of systems managed on premise is on decline, as more work is moved to cloud providers, SaaS vendors and others. But that trend doesn’t mean that an IT manager’s job is getting easier.

“IT shops are realizing that as we move more work off-premise, it makes the job more complex,” said David Cappuccio, the Gartner analyst who develops the research firm’s annual list. He presented it Monday at the this year’s Symposium/ITxpo here in Orlando.

The “Disappearing Data Center” was the top-ranked technology trend. But another point about data centers, “Stranded Capacity” — listed as No. 6 on the list — is closely related.

Gartner, through its user surveys, found that 28% of the physical servers in data centers are “ghost” servers, or what are often called “zombie” servers. These are systems that are in service but not running workloads.

Another problem Gartner found in data centers is that 40% of racks are underprovisioned. That means data center managers are wasting space by not utilizing racks, and might be able to shrink the size of their data centers through better management, said Cappuccio. Servers are also operating at 32% of their performance capacity.

Another data center-related trend, No. 5 on Gartner’s list, was the idea of Data Center-as-a-Service. Instead of thinking about the “data center” as the center of computing resources, managers are seeing their role as a deliverer of services to the business.

Other trends included interconnect fabrics, listed at No. 2, which are increasingly available in multi-tenant data centers. They provide networks that give users access to multiple services, such as the cloud services offered by Google, Amazon and Microsoft, as well as SaaS providers and analytics services. It gives users more flexibility to find the best platform and price, as well as redundancy.

The third top trend concerned the use of containers, microservers and application streams. Virtual machines need an operating system, but containers only require what’s needed to run a specific program. Containers can last weeks, days or seconds — “they drive new ways of looking at development,” said Cappuccio.

In fourth place is “business-driven IT.” Survey data shows that at least 29% of IT spending is outside the IT department. “Business is not willing to wait for IT,” said Cappuccio.

Two of the top 10 trends involved the internet of things (IoT), in particular emerging IoT platforms, which in many cases are incompatible. As for another trend, remote device management — “This could be a major headache,” said Cappuccio.

Micro and edge computing environments is next to last as a trend, and involves putting compute resources in places where they are most needed. That may include installing analytical capabilities at distant worksites that can be managed, for the most part, remotely.

The final trend, as pegged by Gartner, concerned the skills needed to manage emerging environments, including IoT architect, someone to manage cloud sprawl, and a capacity and resource manager.

Gartner

Source: cio.com-Gartner’s predictions — a look at the top 10 tech trends

Gartner Predicts Our Digital Future

Gartner’s Top 10 Predictions herald what it means to be human in a digital world.

Here’s a scene from our digital future: You sit down to dinner at a restaurant where your server was selected by a “robo-boss” based on an optimized match of personality and interaction profile, and the angle at which he presents your plate, or how quickly he smiles can be evaluated for further review.  Or, perhaps you walk into a store to try on clothes and ask the digital customer assistant embedded in the mirror to recommend an outfit in your size, in stock and on sale. Afterwards, you simply tell it to bill you from your mobile and skip the checkout line.

These scenarios describe two predictions in what will be an algorithmic and smart machine driven world where people and machines must define harmonious relationships. In his session at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 in Orlando, Daryl Plummer, vice president, distinguished analyst and Gartner Fellow, discussed how Gartner’s Top Predictions begin to separate us from the mere notion of technology adoption and draw us more deeply into issues surrounding what it means to be human in a digital world.

Gartner’s Top Predictions 

1-Robo-writers create content

By 2018, 20 percent of business content will be authored by machines.

Content that is based on data and analytical information will be turned into natural language writing by technologies that can proactively assemble and deliver information through automated composition engines. Content currently written by people, such as shareholder reports, legal documents, market reports, press releases and white papers are prime candidates for these tools.

2-Things will need help

By 2018, 6 billion connected things will be requesting support.

In 2021, 1 million new IoT devices will be purchased every hour of every day. What happens when they require help and support? Organizations will need to develop strategies and mechanisms for responding to things in different ways than when communicate with and problem-solve for people.

3-Agents get independence

By 2020, autonomous software agents outside of human control will participate in 5 percent of all economic transactions.

Algorithmically driven agents already participate in our economy, but are tethered to mechanisms controlled by humans in our corporate, legal, economic, and fiduciary systems. In what Gartner calls the programmable economy, new autonomous software agents will hold value themselves and be set free on the blockchain, capable of banking, insurance, exchanges, and all other types of financial instruments.

4-You work for a robo-boss

By 2018, more than 3 million workers globally will be supervised by a “robo-boss.”

Some performance measurements can be consumed more swiftly by smart machine managers aka “robo-bosses,” who will perform supervisory duties and make decisions about staffing or management incentives.

5-Smart buildings are vandalized

By year-end 2018, 20 percent of smart buildings will have suffered from digital vandalism.

Digital vandals will plunge buildings into darkness or deface signs in exploits that may be more nuisance than threat, but which require adequate perimeter security and a strategy that links building security with the larger organizational security process.

6-More smart machines go to work

By 2018, 45 percent of the fastest-growing companies will have fewer employees than instances of smart machines.

It will happen with startups and new companies first, but the speed, cost savings, and productivity improvements of employing smart machines means that some companies will use machines over human workers, such as in a fully automated supermarket, robotic hotel, or security firm with drone-only surveillance services.

7-Customer digital assistants hold conversations

By year-end 2018, customer digital assistants will recognize individuals by face and voice across channels and partners.

Multichannel customer experience will take a big leap forward with seamless, two-way engagement between customer digital assistants and customers in an experience that will mimic human conversations, with both listening and speaking, a sense of history, in-the-moment context, tone, and the ability to respond.

8-Employees wear trackers

By 2018, 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment.

For people whose jobs can be dangerous or physically demanding, wearable devices can provide remote monitoring of heart rates, respiration, and potentially, their stress levels, to send help immediately if required.

9-Smart agents manage our tasks

By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40 percent of mobile interactions, and the post-app era will begin to dominate.

Instead of using discreet apps, we’ll rely on smart agents in the form of Virtual Personal Assistants (VPA) or newly built business agents to predict our needs, build trust, and act autonomously on our behalf.

10-Customers cause cloud failures

Through 2020, 95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.

Many organizations still harbor security concerns about use of public cloud services. However, only a small percentage of security incidents impacting enterprises using the cloud have been due to vulnerabilities that were the provider’s fault. Customers increasingly will use cloud access security brokers products to manage and monitor their use of SaaS and other forms of public cloud services.

Source: Gartner- Gartner Predicts Our Digital Future

Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016

Analysts Explore Top Industry Trends at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2015, October 4-8 in Orlando

Gartner, Inc. today highlighted the top 10 technology trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2016. Analysts presented their findings during the sold-out Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, which is taking place here through Thursday.

Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as one with the potential for significant impact on the organization. Factors that denote significant impact include 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. These technologies impact the organization’s long-term plans, programs and initiatives.

“Gartner’s top 10 strategic technology trends will shape digital business opportunities through 2020,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “The first three trends address merging the physical and virtual worlds and the emergence of the digital mesh. While organizations focus on digital business today, algorithmic business is emerging. Algorithms — relationships and interconnections — define the future of business. In algorithmic business, much happens in the background in which people are not directly involved. This is enabled by smart machines, which our next three trends address. Our final four trends address the new IT reality, the new architecture and platform trends needed to support digital and algorithmic business.”

The top 10 strategic technology trends for 2016 are:

The Device Mesh
The device mesh refers to an expanding set of endpoints people use to access applications and information or interact with people, social communities, governments and businesses. The device mesh includes mobile devices, wearable, consumer and home electronic devices, automotive devices and environmental devices — such as sensors in the Internet of Things (IoT).

“In the postmobile world the focus shifts to the mobile user who is surrounded by a mesh of devices extending well beyond traditional mobile devices,” said Mr. Cearley.

While devices are increasingly connected to back-end systems through various networks, they have often operated in isolation from one another. As the device mesh evolves, we expect connection models to expand and greater cooperative interaction between devices to emerge.

Ambient User Experience
The device mesh creates the foundation for a new continuous and ambient user experience. Immersive environments delivering augmented and virtual reality hold significant potential but are only one aspect of the experience. The ambient user experience preserves continuity across boundaries of device mesh, time and space. The experience seamlessly flows across a shifting set of devices and interaction channels blending physical, virtual and electronic environment as the user moves from one place to another.

“Designing mobile apps remains an important strategic focus for the enterprise,” said Mr. Cearley. “However, the leading edge of that design is focused on providing an experience that flows across and exploits different devices, including IoT sensors, common objects such as automobiles, or even factories. Designing these advanced experiences will be a major differentiator for independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises alike by 2018.”

3D Printing Materials
Advances in 3D printing have already enabled 3D printing to use a wide range of materials, including advanced nickel alloys, carbon fiber, glass, conductive ink, electronics, pharmaceuticals and biological materials. These innovations are driving user demand, as the practical applications for 3D printers expand to more sectors, including aerospace, medical, automotive, energy and the military. The growing range of 3D-printable materials will drive a compound annual growth rate of 64.1 percent for enterprise 3D-printer shipments through 2019. These advances will necessitate a rethinking of assembly line and supply chain processes to exploit 3D printing.

“3D printing will see a steady expansion over the next 20 years of the materials that can be printed, improvement in the speed with which items can be printed and emergence of new models to print and assemble composite parts,” said Mr. Cearley.

Information of Everything
Everything in the digital mesh produces, uses and transmits information. This information goes beyond textual, audio and video information to include sensory and contextual information. Information of everything addresses this influx with strategies and technologies to link data from all these different data sources. Information has always existed everywhere but has often been isolated, incomplete, unavailable or unintelligible. Advances in semantic tools such as graph databases as well as other emerging data classification and information analysis techniques will bring meaning to the often chaotic deluge of information.

Advanced Machine Learning
In advanced machine learning, deep neural nets (DNNs) move beyond classic computing and information management to create systems that can autonomously learn to perceive the world, on their own. The explosion of data sources and complexity of information makes manual classification and analysis infeasible and uneconomic. DNNs automate these tasks and make it possible to address key challenges related to the information of everything trend.

DNNs (an advanced form of machine learning particularly applicable to large, complex datasets) is what makes smart machines appear “intelligent.” DNNs enable hardware- or software-based machines to learn for themselves all the features in their environment, from the finest details to broad sweeping abstract classes of content. This area is evolving quickly, and organizations must assess how they can apply these technologies to gain competitive advantage.

Autonomous Agents and Things
Machine learning gives rise to a spectrum of smart machine implementations — including robots, autonomous vehicles, virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart advisors — that act in an autonomous (or at least semiautonomous) manner. While advances in physical smart machines such as robots get a great deal of attention, the software-based smart machines have a more near-term and broader impact. VPAs such as Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri are becoming smarter and are precursors to autonomous agents. The emerging notion of assistance feeds into the ambient user experience in which an autonomous agent becomes the main user interface. Instead of interacting with menus, forms and buttons on a smartphone, the user speaks to an app, which is really an intelligent agent.

“Over the next five years we will evolve to a postapp world with intelligent agents delivering dynamic and contextual actions and interfaces,” said Mr. Cearley. “IT leaders should explore how they can use autonomous things and agents to augment human activity and free people for work that only people can do. However, they must recognize that smart agents and things are a long-term phenomenon that will continually evolve and expand their uses for the next 20 years.”

Adaptive Security Architecture
The complexities of digital business and the algorithmic economy combined with an emerging “hacker industry” significantly increase the threat surface for an organization. Relying on perimeter defense and rule-based security is inadequate, especially as organizations exploit more cloud-based services and open APIs for customers and partners to integrate with their systems. IT leaders must focus on detecting and responding to threats, as well as more traditional blocking and other measures to prevent attacks. Application self-protection, as well as user and entity behavior analytics, will help fulfill the adaptive security architecture.

Advanced System Architecture
The digital mesh and smart machines require intense computing architecture demands to make them viable for organizations. Providing this required boost are high-powered and ultraefficient neuromorphic architectures. Fueled by field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) as an underlining technology for neuromorphic architectures, there are significant gains to this architecture, such as being able to run at speeds of greater than a teraflop with high-energy efficiency.

“Systems built on GPUs and FPGAs will function more like human brains that are particularly suited to be applied to deep learning and other pattern-matching algorithms that smart machines use,” said Mr. Cearley. “FPGA-based architecture will allow further distribution of algorithms into smaller form factors, with considerably less electrical power in the device mesh, thus allowing advanced machine learning capabilities to be proliferated into the tiniest IoT endpoints, such as homes, cars, wristwatches and even human beings.”

Mesh App and Service Architecture
Monolithic, linear application designs (e.g., the three-tier architecture) are giving way to a more loosely coupled integrative approach: the apps and services architecture. Enabled by software-defined application services, this new approach enables Web-scale performance, flexibility and agility. Microservice architecture is an emerging pattern for building distributed applications that support agile delivery and scalable deployment, both on-premises and in the cloud. Containers are emerging as a critical technology for enabling agile development and microservice architectures. Bringing mobile and IoT elements into the app and service architecture creates a comprehensive model to address back-end cloud scalability and front-end device mesh experiences. Application teams must create new modern architectures to deliver agile, flexible and dynamic cloud-based applications with agile, flexible and dynamic user experiences that span the digital mesh.

Internet of Things Platforms
IoT platforms complement the mesh app and service architecture. The management, security, integration and other technologies and standards of the IoT platform are the base set of capabilities for building, managing and securing elements in the IoT. IoT platforms constitute the work IT does behind the scenes from an architectural and a technology standpoint to make the IoT a reality. The IoT is an integral part of the digital mesh and ambient user experience and the emerging and dynamic world of IoT platforms is what makes them possible.

“Any enterprise embracing the IoT will need to develop an IoT platform strategy, but incomplete competing vendor approaches will make standardization difficult through 2018,” said Mr. Cearley.

Source: Gartner-Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016

 

Top 10 Technology Trends Signal the Digital Mesh

An evolving digital mesh of smart machines will connect billions of things into a continuous digital experience.

We sit at the center of an expanding set of devices, other people, information and services that are fluidly and dynamically interconnected. This “digital mesh” surrounds the individual and new, continuous and ambient experiences will emerge to exploit it. In his session revealing Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends at Gartner/Symposium ITxpo 2015 in Orlando, David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow, shared three categories for this year’s trends: the digital mesh, smart machines, and the new IT reality.

Top10StrTechTrend2016

The Digital Mesh

Trend No. 1: The Device Mesh

Here, all devices such as cars, cameras, appliances, and more are connected in an expanding set of endpoints people use to access applications and information, or interact with people, social communities, governments and businesses. As the device mesh evolves, Gartner expects connection models to expand and greater cooperative interaction between devices to emerge. We will see significant development in wearables and augmented reality, especially,virtual reality.

Trend No. 2: Ambient User Experience

All of our digital interactions can become synchronized into a continuous and ambient digital experience that preserves our experience across traditional boundaries of devices, time and space. Users can interact with an application in a dynamic multistep sequence that may last for an extended period. The experience blends physical, virtual and electronic environments, and uses real-time contextual information as the ambient environment changes or as the user moves from one place to another. Organizations will need to consider their customers’ behavior journeys to shift the focus on design from discreet apps to the entire mesh of products and services involved in the user experience.

Trend No. 3: 3D-Printing Materials

We’ll see continued advances in 3D printing with a wide range of materials, including advanced nickel alloys, carbon fiber, glass, conductive ink, electronics, pharmaceuticals and biological materials for practical applications expanding into aerospace, medical, automotive, energy and the military.

Recent advances make it possible to mix multiple materials together with traditional 3D printing in one build. This could be useful for field operations or repairs when a specific tool is required and printed on demand. Biological 3D printing — such as the printing of skin and organs — is progressing from theory to reality, however, politicians and the public don’t have a full understanding of the implications.

Smart Machines

Trend No. 4: Information of Everything

Everything surrounding us in the digital mesh is producing, using and communicating with virtually unmeasurable amounts of information. Organizations must learn how to identify what information provides strategic value, how to access data from different sources, and explore how algorithms leverage Information of Everything to fuel new business designs.

Trend No. 5: Advanced Machine Learning

Advanced machine learning is what makes smart machines appear “intelligent” by enabling them to both understand concepts in the environment, and also to learn. Through machine learning a smart machine can change its future behavior. For example, by analyzing vast databases of medical case histories, “learning” machines can reveal previously unknown insights in treatment effectiveness. This area is evolving quickly, and organizations must assess how they can apply these technologies to gain competitive advantage.

Trend No. 6: Autonomous Agents and Things

Advanced machine learning gives rise to a spectrum of smart machine implementations — including robots, autonomous vehicles, virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart advisors — that act in an autonomous (or at least semiautonomous) manner. This feeds into the ambient user experience in which an autonomous agent becomes the main user interface. Instead of interacting with menus, forms and buttons on a smartphone, the user speaks to an app, which is really an intelligent agent.

The New IT Reality

Trend No. 7: Adaptive Security Architecture

The complexities of digital business and the algorithmic economy, combined with an emerging “hacker industry,” significantly increase the threat surface for an organization. IT leaders must focus on detecting and responding to threats, as well as more traditional blocking and other measures to prevent attacks.

Trend No. 8: Advanced System Architecture

The digital mesh and smart machines require intense computing architecture demands to make them viable for organizations. They’ll get this added boost from ultra-efficient neuromorphic architectures. Systems built on GPUs and field-programmable gate-arrays (FPGAs) will function more like human brains that are particularly suited to be applied to deep learning and other pattern-matching algorithms that smart machines use. FPGA-based architecture will allow distribution with less power into the tiniest IoT endpoints, such as homes, cars, wristwatches and even human beings.

Trend No. 9: Mesh App and Service Architecture

The mesh app and service architecture are what enables delivery of apps and services to the flexible and dynamic environment of the digital mesh. This architecture will serve users’ requirements as they vary over time. It brings together the many information sources, devices, apps, services and microservices into a flexible architecture in which apps extend across multiple endpoint devices and can coordinate with one another to produce a continuous digital experience.

Trend No. 10: Internet of Things Architecture and Platforms

IoT platforms exist behind the mesh app and service architecture. The technologies and standards in the IoT platform form a base set of capabilities for communicating, controlling, managing and securing endpoints in the IoT. The platforms aggregate data from endpoints behind the scenes from an architectural and a technology standpoint to make the IoT a reality.

Source: gartner-Top 10 Technology Trends Signal the Digital Mesh

Hadoop big data adoption fails to live up to hype, says Gartner

More than half of survey respondents have no plans to deploy the open source analytics platform

Gartner research shows that more than half of companies have no current plans to adopt Hadoop-based data analytics, despite large firms like British Airways and Marks & Spencer being big fans of the technology.

Gartner’s 2015 Hadoop Adoption Study has found that investment remains “tentative” in the face of “sizable challenges around business value and skills”. The survey, which was conducted in February and March 2015 among 284 Gartner Research Circle members, found that only 125 respondents had already invested in Hadoop or had plans to do so within the next two years.

The Gartner Research Circle is a Gartner-managed panel composed of IT and business leaders. “Despite considerable hype and reported successes for early adopters, 54 percent of survey respondents report no plans to invest at this time, while only 18 percent have plans to invest in Hadoop over the next two years,” said Nick Heudecker, an analyst at Gartner.

“Furthermore,” he said, “the early adopters don’t appear to be championing for substantial Hadoop adoption over the next 24 months; in fact, there are fewer who plan to begin in the next two years than already have.”

Hadoop is an open source framework that allows for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers using simple programming models. It is designed to scale up from single servers to thousands of machines, each offering local computation and storage.

According to the Gartner research, only 26 percent of respondents claim to be either deploying, piloting or experimenting with Hadoop, while 11 percent plan to invest within 12 months and seven percent are planning investment in 24 months.

Responses pointed to two interesting reasons for the lack of intent, said the analyst. First, several responded that Hadoop was simply “not a priority”. The second was that Hadoop was “overkill” for the problems the business faced, “implying the opportunity costs of implementing Hadoop were too high relative to the expected benefit”, said Gartner.

Gartner analyst Merv Adrian said: “Future demand for Hadoop looks fairly anaemic over at least the next 24 months. Moreover, the lack of near-term plans for Hadoop adoption suggest that despite continuing enthusiasm for the big data phenomenon, demand for Hadoop specifically is not accelerating.

“The best hope for revenue growth for providers would appear to be in moving to larger deployments within their existing customer base.”

Skills gaps were a major adoption inhibitor for 57 percent of respondents, while figuring out how to get value from Hadoop was cited by 49 percent. “The absence of skills has long been a key blocker,” the analyst said. “Tooling vendors claim their products also address the skills gap. While tools are improving, they primarily support highly skilled users rather than elevate the skills already available in most enterprises,” Gartner said.

Gartner estimates it will take “two to three years” for the Hadoop skills challenge to be addressed.

Source: computerworlduk-Hadoop big data adoption fails to live up to hype, says Gartner