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The Power of the Communications API, RingCentral-Style

Illustrating the power of -- and growing interest in -- communications APIs, cloud communications solutions provider RingCentral has shared some noteworthy stats around the RingCentral Connect Platform it released for general availability in late February and enhanced this week.

Since the end of first-quarter 2015, the number of developers registered to use the RingCentral Connect Platform has more than tripled, the company reported. And, in the quarter just ended, the number of API requests from third parties into RingCentral systems has sextupled.

The sixfold increase even caught RingCentral insiders off guard, David Lee, vice president of platform products, told me in a call yesterday. "We were surprised by that last stat, and so checked it over and over. But it's real, and it speaks to the level of adoption of our communications APIs," he said.

That's not to say that RingCentral didn't have high hopes for its communications platform, which enables developers to create custom integrations with RingCentral APIs and integrate communications functions into business applications. "Of course we expected it to be a platform that developers wanted to hop on. We believe communications is at the center of all businesses, and the timing is right ... with companies progressively moving their business apps into the cloud," Lee added.

Although Lee did not specify exactly how many third-party API calls a 6X increase totals, he did note that the growth rate outpaces that of its other API categories, including native apps and the integrations it has written on its own to turn popular business tools like Office 365, Google for Work, Salesforce, and Zendesk, into communications hubs. Quarterly growth in API calls associated with those integrations have been strong as well, but not quite at the six-times rate, he said.

Who's Doing What
Yesterday's announcement featured seven ISV partners that have built integrations with RingCentral in the last quarter alone, while Lee hinted that more integration news, "big and small," will be coming this quarter. Three of the latest of RingCentral's integration partners are:

Lee said he in part attributes the flurry of activity around RingCentral and its communications APIs to the "modern, open, self-serve, but supportive environment" the company has built around its communications platform. When developers come to the Connect Platform portal, they get easy access to documentation, API keys, and software development kits (SDKs) -- they're not taken to a lead form to fill out information for marketing purposes, he added.

"We believe developers are very self-sufficient and don't want to have to hire consultants to help them out. And we believe that developers will have inspirations at three in the morning, and they shouldn't be encumbered by our portal," Lee said. That said, RingCentral backs up the portal with "strong support" so developers do have the ability to reach out to experts on hand should they run into trouble with their integrations.

This week RingCentral expanded the platform with the addition of PHP and C# SDKs, which it said developers have requested as a way to enable simplified access, and new API calls. Among the new API calls is a Call Recording Access API, which lets customers or partners retrieve call recordings for analytical purposes.

Developer Kudos
This Call Recording Access API was featured heavily in a hackathon RingCentral hosted in late September, Lee told me.

The winning team from RingCentral's recent hackathon

The first-place team (shown at right) developed what it calls "TrustWordy," an auditing tool app aimed at ensuring adherence to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission insider trading rules -- during RingCentral voice calls, of course. The app is meant to serve consultancies providing industry experts to investment-type clients, Lee said. "This app does post-call analysis to flag conversations where contact info, sales info, or profanity may have been used," he explained.

The second-place team developed "CustoME," a mood-rating app that assesses callers' emotional states based on keywords transcribed and indexed from the RingCentral call recording, Lee described. Using this information, companies can determine the overall "mood" of customer support, as well as identify things like which support reps put customers in the best moods.

By opening up its APIs, Lee said, "we provide a way to give customers and partners access to interesting data and do valuable data enrichment."

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