Live From Enterprise Connect 2017: Vlad Shmunis of RingCentral

9 Jun 2017

In this Executive Insights video podcast, Jim Burton of BCStrategies is joined by Vlad Shmunis, CEO of RingCentral. 


Jim Burton: Welcome to BCStrategies Executive Insights. I’m Jim Burton. We’re at Enterprise Connect where I just was on a panel with Vlad Shmunis of RingCentral, talking about what’s going on in our industry. It was a really interesting panel; I’m glad that you could join us for that. One of the things that I wanted to talk to you about, because part of what we try to do with this panel is to help educate the market in terms of what they need to understand as they’re going out on their buyer’s journey. And the purpose of our new website, BCStrategies, will be what people need to know.

So my first question for you is, if you’re an Enterprise customer, and you’re in that process on a buyer’s journey, what should you be looking for? This is a general term, on your “buyer’s journey.” What are the important things to really take into consideration?

Vlad Shmunis: Firstly, thank you – great panel. Thank you for having me here. At the high level, first you should be looking for the right provider or providers for the problem you’re trying to solve. In many cases, we see people trying to figure out a path from their current communications ecosystem, which in many cases consists of a hodgepodge of on-prem devices from a variety of vendors deployed in conjunction with service providers across different parts of the nation or the globe and also different systems doing different things. 

So in many cases, people are wanting to simplify their lives. They’re wanting to have a single, global, high quality of service in a technical sense of the word, solution, with a strong SLA that they can deploy across their entire organization, which in many cases spans countries and continents. So that’s at the high level. 

Now, when people narrow those choices down a little bit, many of them will want to give a very serious look to pure cloud implementations. It is a fact that cloud has taken over. On-prem deployments are on their way down…shrinking. Cloud is growing at 20 percent year over year. We happen to be the largest and the fastest growing player growing at about 30 percent. 

Jim Burton: And one of the earliest players. I think people should know that. 

Vlad Shmunis: Well, we’re the youngest company in the space that offers this type of a solution, but yes, we are an early pioneer in pure cloud communications. So as I mentioned in my panel, to our way of looking at things, a lot of it has to do really with experience. 

In the end, we save people time. We save people money. But much more importantly, we empower those workforces. We empower teams. We make their productivity much higher. We just recently ran a survey amongst RingCentral customers as well as non-customers, or let’s call them future customers, whereby we are providing up to 30 percent productivity improvements while saving them 30 to 35 percent in TCO. 

So having said all of this, probably the most important thing to look for is how does it fit our needs? And really, the only way to do this is try before you buy. So we will offer a very inexpensive, if not for free, implementation. We’ll let people try without locking them into a long-term contract. In our experience, something like over 90 percent of those trials will result in a successful deployment at a corporate level. 

Jim Burton: That’s great. Well, that kind of brings it in. You started in there. What are the things, as they’re looking and they’re on a buyer’s journey and they’ve started to narrow it down, they say, “I need to go for a cloud solution,” which, by the way, everyone’s going to go for a cloud solution…that’s just the way the industry’s headed… So what are the unique things that they need to understand and why they should pick your company to go after the solution that they’re looking for? 

Vlad Shmunis: Well, firstly, they decide on the cloud. That’s already a good position for us to be in because we happen to be the largest and the fastest growing cloud provider. People usually want to go with the winners. We are approximately twice the size of our nearest competitor, and we are growing 50 percent larger. So do the math. We are going to dominate. 

We have an unwavering commitment to innovation. We out-invest our nearest competitor by two and a half times in R&D. And these investments are definitely bearing fruit. But frankly, even more important is the fact that we have millions of end users that we’re serving on our platform every minute of every day. We have tons of referenceable accounts so certainly we’re more than happy to point people in the right direction as far as getting customers mainly in their industry to share their experience. 

And we’re a customer-first company so it’s really experiencing what RingCentral can do, which is unfortunately not something I can reasonably describe in a five-minute interview here. And this is, again, where we go “try before you buy.” 

Jim Burton: That’s a very powerful motivation. I mean, if you can try it before you buy it, you can do a little test case and make sure it’s doing what it says it’s going to do. I can tell you that I’ve talked to a number of your end users, and you’re absolutely right. That’s what they say. 

The service that you provide is...and some people don’t find out until later, but some people early on figured out I’m having a little bit of difficulty getting things implemented, and they get great support from you. So that is an important consideration when you’re looking at it because it’s always one of those things that everybody says, “they’ve got great support,” but you prove it. And with a trial period, that’s fabulous. 

Vlad Shmunis: Just to add to that, look, we are a technology company. We are immensely proud of our technology. As already mentioned, we are out-investing our nearest competition by factors here. But it’s not just about technology. It’s really more about user experience. 

And it’s a fact that from very early on, we took the mobile first approach. What does mobile first mean? It means that everything gets – all the experiences – get consumerized. We spend an immense amount of effort making sure that the very complex business process can be fit on a small device. We are the only provider in the field that can administer a multi-thousand person company from a mobile device and not only in the voice domain, replacing say your Avaya system, but also new age collaboration components, whereby we are replacing not only your old Avaya boxes but even new providers, like for example, Slack with collaboration, like a content center solution which may even be software-based in its own right. But because everything wants to be under one umbrella, we’re in a really good position to do that. Video and web conferencing providers we replace with a single integrated solution. And again, the key to all of this is overall experience and our ability to support the customer. 

Jim Burton: Good user experience. You did mention a product like Slack. But you made an acquisition about a year ago that kind of got you into that space that I’m not sure people fully understand and appreciate the fact that you made that acquisition and the value it brings to a prospective customer. 

Vlad Shmunis: Yeah. This is actually the perfect time to talk about this because just here at this conference today, we have unveiled a new fully integrated product that finally, for the first time in the industry, integrates conventional business communications. I mean, conventional inasmuch as Enterprise voice-based communications only delivered through the cloud like we do. But now there is, for the first time ever, fully seamless integration, single application, Slack-like collaboration components. 

So from the same device, and more importantly, from the same app, you can now place and receive business phone calls, check your business voicemail. You have a multi-level IVR that our system provides. Think your high end Avaya or Cisco system, only available through the cloud, but that very same app will allow you to have multi-model team communications, will allow you to share files, will allow you to have online chat with many-to-many teams. 

And one of the differentiators of our solution is we not only allow people within an organization to collaborate in a multi-modal fashion but also we actively support and promote companies communicating with their suppliers and their customers. So this is not just intra-organization, but inter-organization solution. And we are pretty excited. It hasn’t been done before ever. 

Jim Burton: Well, it’s pretty amazing because of the promise of unified communication when you integrate all these pieces, and people keep talking about it. But there are still silos of communications that oh, yeah, we’ve got this feature but it’s another app. So that’s very, very powerful. 

One of the other things, you mentioned contact center. And that’s something that people, I think, need to understand. There’s some of your competitors out there, big competitors, who really have never gotten the contact center quite right or even offer it. So how does that fit into your overall solution model for someone who says, I need this, but I’ve got this group of people that do what we know is contact center work?

Vlad Shmunis: Yeah, we think it’s very important, but it’s not important to simply just check off a box and say wow, we have a contact center. I think the important thing is to actually solve the problems that the customer has. So our differentiated approach has been to offer not only the industry’s best Enterprise-grade communications – and we are a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader for two years in a row now – but to combine it with the same Magic Quadrant leader solution in the contact center space. 

And that’s a very, very powerful combination. So especially in the Enterprise segment, we see people very much wanting to unite everything on a single invoice, single SLA, single network. So all of this we provide. In the end, a single throat to choke. They call us whenever something happens. But the experience, the solution, functionality, all of that is world class both with contact center as well as Enterprise Communications. 

Jim Burton: One of the things at this conference, there’s a lot of discussion about video. It seems like it’s been the hot topic for years. It seems to be getting a little more press. But I was actually at an announcement you made, gosh, it has to be three or four years ago, where you brought out your video collaboration. And I know it’s done nothing but improve since then. 

Vlad Shmunis: Well, that’s right. And as I mentioned, we end up replacing not just the PBX box, call that Avaya. But we replace tons of WebEx implementations, for example, as well. And yes, things are getting better. Again, this was the point of multi-modal communications, which media is a big part of that. And of course, the larger the company, the more reliant they are on quality video conferencing. And it’s an integral part of our solution. 

We would not be where we are without having the complete suite, which most definitely includes media, contact center, moving forward, collaboration, open platform, and the global footprint. It all needs to work together. You have a car, you have to have four wheels. It’s that way with suite. 

Jim Burton: Well, that’s good. Listen, thank you so much for your time today. This has been enlightening and I appreciate it. You are actually my first interview for BCStrategies. 

Vlad Shmunis: All right. Fantastic. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.    


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