RingCentral Analyst Summit 2019 – The Rise of Collaborative Communications
“Collaborative communications” is the vison of RingCentral, which was highlighted at the recent RingCentral analyst conference, as a group of analysts heard how the company is bringing its various capabilities and offerings together to enable Unified Experiences. This is a theme I’ve been writing and talking about for years, and was happy to hear RingCentral focus on the value of bringing all the business communication pieces together – notably calling (cloud PBX), contact center, messaging, and meetings.
Vlad Shmunis, Founder, Chairman and CEO, discussed how most competitors offer islands of capabilities that don't always work together and don’t integrate with each other or the rest of the world. RingCentral’s vision is to create unified experiences that close the gaps between UC and CC, by providing a modern platform for deeper integrations, workflows and AI. RingCentral believes this approach to collaborative communication – will ultimately lead to increased employee and customer engagement.
I first used the term Collaborative Communications in 2010 to describe how unified communications, enterprise social, and collaboration were coming together. Today, collaborative communications also includes team messaging and meetings, as well as contact center capabilities, but the goal remains the same – to let individuals and groups that are physically spread out work together in any mode, on any device, anywhere – in order to produce a business goal or result.
RingCentral’s collaborative communications portfolio includes its employee engagement capabilities, including calling (cloud PBX), messaging (team collaboration), and meeting (video), as well as its customer engagement capabilities, including inbound contact center, outbound/blended contact center, and digital engagement, as shown below.
Throughout the event we heard how everything in the RingCentral offering is integrated together, providing a single SLA and single sign on, as well as single professional services and customer care. Shmunis noted that RingCentral won some very large deals in the last quarter. The key foundation of key wins, like Columbia University, a 44,000-seat deal, is providing enterprise voice, but with the added combination of capabilities – meetings, messaging, and contact center – RingCentral bridges together the separate islands that have existed in the on-premises legacy world. Although RingCentral provides what it calls a best-in-class offering, as it OEMs Zoom for video and NICE inContact for inbound contact centers and WFO, everything is tightly integrated to provide a seamless user experience. For example, by integrating the RingCentral Contact Center with its Glip team messaging capabilities, agents can collaborate with each other as well as experts within the company to provide a Collaborative Contact Center.
Shmunis also described the large opportunity in the UCaaS market, presenting a memorable visual of Venus passing the sun during a Venal eclipse, on which he embedded the size of the UCaaS market compared with the overall opportunity. As Shmunis stated, "We have an opportunity to take over the sun."
Several speakers discussed the role of RingCentral’s global platform, described as a modern cloud architecture working with microservices, offering security and compliance, with 99.999% reliability.
The company made some new announcements, including new branding for its customer engagement offerings, which are now part of the RingCentral Engage portfolio:
- RingCentral Contact Center – includes inbound calling and WFO (based on the NICE inContact service)
- RingCentral Engage Digital – for digital customer Engagement, based on the Dimelo acquisition
- RingCentral Engage Voice – for outbound and blended customer engagement, based on the Connect First acquisition
The company also announced a new unified mobile application providing a frictionless experience for calling, messaging, and meeting, making it simple to go from a chat to a voice call to a video call.
Other announcements include:
- RingCentral Persist, enabling enterprise customers to maintain communications services in case of an Internet failure at a customer’s location. Customers can continue communications services including emergency calling, extension-to-extension dialing, and inbound and outbound calling.
- The expansion of RingCentral’s open platform with RingCentral Embeddable, “enabling developers to easily and quickly embed communications into their enterprise applications and extensions to our API library with new e-Discovery and message retention APIs.”
I spoke with Curtis Peterson, SVP of Global Operations me about RingCentral’s growth, particularly in the enterprise space, as well as RingCentral’s Engage family of customer engagement offerings, and some new announcements.
Customer Engagement + Employee Engagement
Various RingCentral presenters reinforced a consistent message of how the company is bringing together customer engagement and employee engagement. This is another area I’ve been focused on for many years, and was happy to hear about the progress RingCentral is making. As COO David Sipes explained, employee engagement is about creating an environment for employees that creates success, noting that the most committed employees perform 20% better and are 87% more likely to stay with a company than those that are less engaged. However, disjointed applications negatively impact employee workflow, as 74% of employees toggle daily between applications in order to resolve issues, while 88% of contact center agents have to go between applications.
RingCentral has been very focused on the “digital age disconnect” and sponsored a study conducted by CITE Research about Overcoming the Digital Age Disconnect to look at challenges customers have when interacting with brands. The report shows that there’s a direct connection between employee and customer engagement, but that customer expectations are not being met due to disjointed communications technologies. In this video interview, Neha Mirchandani discusses the new report and what actions businesses should take based on this information.
Building on the theme about the integration of customer engagement and employee engagement, I spoke with Jose Pastor, SVP Product. In this interview Pastor discusses how RingCentral is building solutions that can be tied together to drive happy employees and happy customers. He also explains how RingCentral analytics capabilities help IT users improve the quality of service across organizations. Pastor also discusses RingCentral’s new unified application for call, message, meet in a single interface.
Looking to the Future
After a strong 2018, RingCentral has lots of plans for 2019, with a growth strategy including:
- Accelerating indirect channels
- International expansion – Global delivery is a key focus area, as RingCentral Global Office is now in over 40 countries, covering 85% of global GDP with 29 data centers around the globe.
- Expanding its focus on the enterprise
- Expanding its ecosystem and investing in partners
- Expanding product verticalization in financial, healthcare, education, and retail markets
- New offerings for developers. The RingCentral Connect Platform provides 2000 standard/customer integrations, supporting 20,000 developers, with 150% year-over-year API call growth. Integrations include Slack, Marketo, Twitter, and many others, with more on the way.
RingCentral has become the one to beat in the UCaaS market, and has done a great job of gaining mindshare and market share. The company will need to keep innovating to retain its position, especially as the industry evolves rapidly in the areas of AI, omnichannel customer engagement, and team collaboration. While analysts and pundits will always debate whether vendors like RingCentral (as well as many others) are better off working with best-in-class providers for contact center and meeting capabilities, as opposed to owning their own technology, there are pros and cons to each approach.
As it moves upmarket, RingCentral has had a lot of success winning larger deals, begging the question – how will the company continue to support existing customers at the low end while offering enhanced services for the midmarket and enterprise customers? Continued investment in its professional services organization, while increasingly utilizing channel partners, is important, but requires a delicate balance.
I expect to see more acquisitions in RingCentral’s future, most likely in the areas of AI (of course), customer engagement, and analytics. While the company doesn’t generally acquire companies to increase market share, it’s very likely to make acquisitions to increase its global footprint.
As you can tell, I love the company’s convergence philosophy, bringing together customer and employee engagement, as well as its vision around collaborative communications. I’m looking forward to hearing more from RingCentral about this in the near future.