As it announces new CEO, RingCentral rings up more AI with RingCX and RingSense

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala – SiliconANGLE.

For the past few years, artificial intelligence has been front and center in the communications industry. This has been spurred further this year with the release of ChatGPT, which has put generative AI in the cross hairs.

This week, on the same day that it announced a series of management changes and quarterly earnings that beat expectations — more on that below — RingCentral Inc. announced a couple of new initiatives that add to its current portfolio if AI features and functions.

  • First, the company says it is expanding its RingSense AI platform to RingCentral MVP as well as new feature enhancements for RingSense for Sales. RingSense for Phone helps organizations turn voice conversation data into insights that can boost productivity and unlock business outcomes. This is interesting as historically voice conversations have been considered “dark” data where the spoken interaction could never be analyst effectively and, therefore, could not be used for training or process improvement. AI makes that possible.
  • Second, the company released RingCX, which it bills as “a native, intelligent contact center.” RingCX combines the company’s unified communications as a service or UCaaS — messaging, video, phone, SMS and fax — with contact center functions. In keeping with the year’s theme, it also includes generative AI capabilities. The new RingCX was built on technology from its 2018 Dimelo acquisition. This gives RingCentral its digital-first contact center, which will be integrated into its UCaaS MVP solution to complement the contact center-as-a-service solution offered in its partnership with NICE inContact.

In the release, Vlad Shmunis, founder, chairman and chief executive of RingCentral, underscored the importance of AI and why the company is going all-in.

“AI will permeate all aspects of business communications to make interactions smarter and drive unprecedented levels of productivity,” he said. “We developed the RingSense AI platform to help our customers make sense of their conversations.”

Shmunis added that RingCX, which builds on RingCentral MVP with RingCentral Contact Center powered by NICE, is a response to a new need the company sees. “In listening to our customers,” he said, “we’ve recognized an additional need for a native intelligent contact center solution that would be better suited towards addressing simpler use cases while allowing contact center agents and employees beyond the contact center to act as one unified organization focused on addressing customer needs and creating amazing customer experiences.”

Given the strong relationship RingCentral has with NICE, it’s worth reiterating that RingCX is designed to be a complementary product. The new RingCentral solution will focus on contact centers with basic requirements, whereas the latter will be targeted at larger contact centers with more complex needs. Long term, it’s possible RingCentral may look to terminate its relationship with NICE, but I don’t believe that will happen anytime soon.

RingSense: Bringing conversation intelligence to RingCentral MVP

RingSense is available in beta today and will be generally available later this year. The highlights include:

  • Real-time, AI-generated live transcriptions and closed captions
  • AI-generated call summaries, highlights, and keyword detection
  • Conversation sentiment analysis that can detect the tone and energy of conversations

The company has added the following enhancements to RingSense for Sales, including:

  • Integrations with third-party applications such as Salesforce, Hubspot and Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Deal scoring for sales managers to track pipeline health, including aggregate and individual deal level.
  • AI coaching that can improve interactions based on AI-analyzed conversational metrics, such as energy, tone and interruptions.

RingCX: native, intelligent contact center solution

The company says RingCX will be available to specific customers today and will become generally available in late 2023, with some modules in early 2024. RingCX will have more than 1,000 features upon launch. Some highlights:

  • Seamless customer experiences across inbound and outbound voice; more than 20 digital channels, including email, SMS, live chat and messaging applications.
  • AI-powered transcripts, summaries and conversational insights, so agents don’t have to take notes.
  • Real-time, AI-driven agent assistance via partner integration to help agents navigate customer interactions.

Today’s announcement may seem like a lot of AI delivered in a short period, but the reality is RingCentral and most of its peers have been using AI in their products for the better part of five years. AI gets much press for the craziness of ChatGPT, but that obscures the real promise of AI for enterprises. It will be interesting to see the acceptance of the solutions and how RingCentral continues to innovate.

In any case, mostly new management at the top will be carrying out the product strategy. Today, the company announced that Shmunis will be transitioning from CEO to executive chairman of the board. Shmunis founded the company in 1999 and is the only CEO in its history.

Taking his place will be Tarek Robbiati, who has been a board member since December. Robbiati was previously chief financial officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Given his financial background, one would think some restructuring is coming to the company.

Also, the company announced that President and Chief Operating Officer Mo Katibeth will be leaving RingCentral but will remain a special adviser. Although leadership changes like this always come as a surprise, the industry is changing. Over the past few years, we have seen all of RingCentral’s peers undergo C-level changes. More on this topic to come.

Meantime, the company reported a second-quarter net loss of $21.5 million, or 23 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $159.5 million, or $1.68 a share, a year ago. Adjusted earnings of 83 cents a share and revenue of $539.3 million, up 11%, beating forecasts by analysts, and so did full-year guidance. RingCentral’s stock was falling about 10% in extended trading today.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.