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RingCentral AI-Infused Sales Tool Highlights Enterprise Connect Announcements

It’s that time of year again. Spring has sprung which means it’s time for Enterprise Connect. One of the highlights of the show is the flurry of vendor announcements as each company looks to one up the other. Given the hype around ChatGPT, one would expect that most of the news to revolve around artificial intelligence (AI).

RingCentral made several announcements early in the show, leading with its new conversational-AI based RingSense for Sales. RingCentral has a long history in communications and is leaning on the millions of hours of interactions to train its machine learning models. It’s worth noting that RingSense for Sales is the company's first horizontal solution specifically designed for revenue-generating teams by providing actionable insights. This can include information a sales person when to contact a prospect based on previous interactions, help sales managers better understand who needs more training and shorten the preparation time for customer success individuals.

Years ago, during a conversation with John Chambers, he told me that if one wants to be successful with new applications and services to simply “follow the money,” -- find where companies spend a lot of money and then help them improve in those areas. Sales operations is one of the largest areas of spend for most organizations. Because of this, RingSense for Sales should get some looks from RingCentral’s base because even a small improvement in sales efficiency can pay big dividends.

That said, small improvements are not what RingCentral is going for. Rather, it's looking to create a step function in efficiency by revealing insights that would otherwise be hidden. An important point of differentiation is that RingCentral is using its own data and also pulling information from third parties such as Salesforce, Okta, Zoho, Office and even other UCaaS and CCaaS providers.RingCentral uses the vendor APIs to pull customer specific information from each service. So if the customer is using Saleforce, Zoho and Office, that information can be part of the data set for analysis.

There are four main audiences that will benefit from RingSense for Sales.

For salespeople, the web and mobile interfaces will help reps easily find the information they require, when they need it. As an example, sales reps could find all opportunities where the customer said “call me back next year when our fiscal year begins and we have budget.” They can also track progress and share insights with their team. The ability to share best practices can help sales reps course-correct faster and improve win rates. RingSense also takes care many of the mundane tasks that people don’t like to do such as entering call notes and tracking follow ups.

Sale leaders will benefit from RingSense as it can help them prioritize where to spend time. Unless you’re Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s impossible to be on all calls and in all meetings at the same time but RingSense can be, as it monitors every conversation. This can help sales leaders find issues before they become serious. Also, sales managers can monitor trends and coach at scale rather than one conversation at a time.

Revenue operations professionals can review deals while conversations are happening. This leads to better forecasting with deal scores, thus reducing organizational risk as revenue operations can see all deals and improved collaboration with the sales team.

Marketing professionals will have a better sense of the voice of the customer enabling them to create compelling messaging that address actual customer needs, which leads to a more qualified pipeline.

While this is RingCentral’s first horizontal use case for AI, it won’t be the last. It's not clear when they will have subsequent offerings, but the company did say on a pre-briefing with analysts that there is “more to come soon”.

A second announcement from RingCentral was the introduction of Push To Talk (PTT). While this might not have the same sex appeal and sizzle as AI, PTT is an extremely important application for certain workers. Back in the day, construction workers, hospital clinicians and security teams relied on Nextel’s PTT. I was an IT pro in the late 90s and we used PTT extensively to do our jobs more efficiently.

There have been other attempts to revive PTT but it hasn’t been done to the same level of low latency as what the long-retired IDEN network provided. I asked RingCentral about this and they assured me it’s instantaneous. I’m looking forward to see it being demoed at their Enterprise Connect booth.

At a most basic level, RingCentral PTT operates with a single tap of the screen for instant communications. The company also added mobile camera sharing and AI video capabilities such as language translation, live transcriptions and background noise removal. PTT is often used in loud environments so this should be a big hit among users. Also, users can bring in team messaging and file sharing into conversations.

A third announcement revolves around updates to RingCentral’s UC platform AND a service (UCPaaS). On the pre-brief, RingCentral described the importance of “and” versus “as” as composable organizations requires both the platform capabilities and the service. I think trying to change the definition of PaaS can be confusing but the company is trying to underscore how important the close integration is between the out of the box RingCentral and the platform.

The offering is comprised of several components. Non-developers can create custom workflows courtesy of the over 350 apps available via the RingCentral no-code solution. There are also drag and drop solutions for non-developers with a moderate level of technical acumen. This can help users meet the needs of bespoke processes without having to involve a developer.

However, when a coder is required, RingCentral has over 500 APIs to tap into, including APIs for messaging, calling, video, social and data. One of the new capabilities introduced is analytics APIs to have deeper insights into the ways that customers communicate. This can give insights on how to interact with customers in a more personalized way. Also new is the video SDK which enables developers to build white label video solutions. This can be useful in telehealth, as part of a social media interaction site, or for financial services. Lastly, there are AI APIs that let developers leverage speech-to-text, emotion analysis and audio summation. Given the strong interest in AI, this last set of APIs should have strong appeal to many organizations.

This was a strong set of announcements for RingCentral as there was a mix of innovations. While RingCentral brought some cool new AI features with RingSense, the PTT shows it hasn’t forgotten the importance of providing good quality communications in different ways. The APIs are also important to broaden the usability of the product via composable solutions.