Google and RingCentral: Targeting Microsoft ambitious, but the opportunity is there

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Analysis Late last week, Google announced a partnership with cloud communications provider RingCentral. The target, the two companies asserted, was medium to large enterprises looking for a more seamless transition to cloud collaboration. Yet a little further in the distance, the figure of Microsoft looms large.

Microsoft’s various offerings in the enterprise have been widely scrutinised and praised. Take Skype for Business, Cortana, and Yammer to name just three, held together by Office 365 and the Azure cloud platform, while not forgetting the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), as well as the recent acquisition of LinkedIn.

Yet with the RingCentral Office Google Edition, the mission statement is clear. “RingCentral Google Edition with Google Apps for Work provides a richer and more robust enterprise communication and productivity environment compared to competing industry solutions,” David Van Der Steen, RingCentral senior manager of product marketing told Enterprise AppsTech in an email. “Together, these solutions enable every employee in a distributed enterprise to work however they want, communicate in whatever mode they choose, and on any device.” To avoid any doubt, the press release calls out Skype for Business and Office 365 as competition.

The offering with Google represents a new tier of RingCentral with WebRTC, which integrates with Google Hangouts, Drive, Chrome, Gmail, and Android. As Vlad Shmunis, CEO of RingCentral argues, the opportunity for Google in the enterprise is ‘significant’ as more businesses move away from legacy infrastructure. For its part, RingCentral’s positioning by Gartner as a leader for unified communications as a service, as well as previous collaborations with Google and being a ‘recommended for Google Apps’ partner, feeds into this.

There is a clear gap for the two companies to try and shore up. A survey from BetterCloud this time last year found larger organisations – those Google and RingCentral are trying to target – are much more likely to be Office 365 cloud houses, as opposed to smaller firms on Google Apps.

Yet the opportunity – moving larger businesses to the cloud more seamlessly – is there. As the report noted at the time, Office 365 organisations are predominantly “easing into the transition, allowing employees to choose their preferred working style, rather than abruptly shifting to a cloud-only workplace.” This is good news for the Google-RingCentral partnership, with ubiquity and convenience as hallmarks.

The state of unified communications (UC), and how it integrates into the enterprise, is also interesting right now. Most research hitting the wire on the subject – admittedly from vendors in the space – suggests we are at a tipping point; the technology is there, but suffering from crippling indecision by businesses. A study from West Unified Communications in January argued most businesses had embraced UC ‘in some respect’, but had not taken the next steps.

Van Der Steen holds a different view. “We believe this is still a technology issue,” he explained. “Vendors need to focus on a robust, elegant, and delightful to use application that allows users to seamlessly transition between various communication channels and devices at will.

“The first vendor to execute on this vision will realise massive rewards through viral user adoption and the resulting increased demand from IT buyers,” he added.

Step forward Google and RingCentral?

 

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