Enterprise Connect 2018 conference coverage
Reporting and analysis from IT events
RingCentral this week released a stand-alone online meetings platform and upgraded its contact center platform with bots and team collaboration tools. The enhanced portfolio could help the pure-cloud vendor expand its customer base and gain a stronger foothold in the cloud contact center market.
RingCentral Meetings includes many of the same features as the vendor's flagship unified-communications-as-a-service platform, RingCentral Office, without requiring companies to pay for cloud telephony. The platform -- a limited version of which is available for free -- includes online meetings, team messaging, screen-sharing and task management.
RingCentral Collaborative Contact Center pairs the vendor's existing contact center product with Glip, its team collaboration tool similar to Slack, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Spark. RingCentral has also added customizable bots that monitor call volumes, hang-ups and other contact center metrics, sending alerts to teams in Glip.
"The broader, richer portfolio enables RingCentral to target a more diversified range of end-user organizations, as well as larger customer organizations with more complex requirements," said Rob Arnold, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
RingCentral targets the cloud contact center market
RingCentral is a leading provider of cloud phone systems worldwide, but it doesn't have a strong reputation as a contact center vendor, said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research in Westminster, Mass.
RingCentral needs to offer a unique product if it wants to gain ground in the cloud contact center market, Kerravala said. In that context, the Glip integration could be a smart move if it's indeed able to improve the customer experience when contacting a business.
The Glip integration should help customer service agents communicate faster with teams outside the contact center to get answers. RingCentral has also introduced bots that could, for example, notify a team in Glip whenever call volumes spike.
"The contact center has largely been this kind of silo within companies. But I do think by bringing the ability for the contact center to collaborate with a bigger part of the company, it could actually have an impact on resolution times," Kerravala said.
RingCentral Meetings offers a hybrid approach
RingCentral's new stand-alone meetings and collaboration platform might appeal to companies that are not ready to move their phone systems to the cloud, potentially helping the vendor expand its traditional customer base.
A freemium version of RingCentral Meetings offers unlimited web conferences of up to 40 minutes, plus integration with Glip. Businesses can get more advanced system controls, as well as call-me and call-out capabilities, with the purchase of a monthly per-user subscription.
"It's a good way to offer a hybrid approach where you keep your voice on premises, and you do a lot of the other advanced functionality out of the cloud," Kerravala said of RingCentral Meetings.
RingCentral Meetings, which relies on Zoom's technology, will compete in the SMB market with web conferencing platforms Fuze, GlobalMeet, BlueJeans and LogMeIn. To date, RingCentral and its rivals have not gained traction among large enterprise users because of their preference for Cisco WebEx and Microsoft's Skype for Business and Teams, analysts said.