NextPlane Blog

What Google’s Partnership with RingCentral Means for the Future of Unified Communications

Sep 26, 2016 3:59:16 PM

It’s no secret Google and Microsoft are major rivals in the realm of enterprise productivity software. Microsoft’s Office suite has been a staple at businesses around the world since the 1990s, and Google for Work has made similar inroads since Gmail was first introduced a decade ago.

As it stands now, it appears as though Microsoft is beating Google in the race for enterprise adoption. According to CIO, businesses of late have been increasingly moving to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 suite. An analysis of one cloud security firm’s traffic revealed 87.3% of organizations are using Office 365, while other estimates peg Google for Work’s adoption somewhere in the 50% range. (Remember, it’s not uncommon for organizations to use various platforms.) Further, according to Computer Weekly, 8.4% of organizations are relying wholly on Microsoft’s cloud-based email offering compared to 4.7% of companies that are using Google. The vast majority of other companies use other email systems (e.g., an on-premises server).

Organizations are drawn to Microsoft for a number of reasons. For starters, the company has been around forever, so business owners know they can trust it. Beyond that, Office is a “household” name of sorts that promises professionals everything they need to do their jobs: word processing, spreadsheets, the ability to make slideshows, and—perhaps its true differentiator—a number of different communication tools, like Yammer, Lync and Skype for Business.

While it’s true that Google Hangouts allows professionals to instant message and participate in video calls with their coworkers, Google has been increasingly adding to its communications tool belt over the last several years. Now, thanks to a recent partnership with RingCentral, a company in the cloud communications space, the search juggernaut’s business productivity suite may very well begin stealing customers away from Microsoft.

Users of the RingCentral Office Google Edition can now make voice or video calls from their Gmail accounts; send and receive text messages; schedule conference calls; leverage click-to-call functionality; listen to voicemails directly in their inboxes; and join a Hangout from anywhere, among other things. The new service, which is priced at $30/user/month, is directly targeting Microsoft’s Office 365 solution.

It remains to be seen whether RingCentral and Google will be able to make inroads into Microsoft’s robust customer base in what’s undoubtedly an uphill battle, even for a company as strong and well-financed as Google.

In any case, one thing is certain: Google has officially hopped into the already-fragmented unified communications arena—which means the field will be full of an even greater number of disparate UC platforms, further complicating things for many organizations.

Even if RingCentral and Google’s product takes off at a torrential pace, users of the new service will likely still have a number of business partners using different UC platforms. After all, it’s not uncommon for today’s workers to regularly collaborate with professionals who work outside their organizations (e.g., contractors and consultants). In some instances, employees might even work with their external business partners with more frequency than they work with their own coworkers.

Thanks to modern technology, professionals can be more productive than ever before. But they need to be equipped with the right tools to reach their full potential. While UC services accelerate decision-making processes and drive competitive advantage, they can’t be truly helpful if workers are unable to use them to collaborate with any number of the business partners they regularly work with.

For that reason, organizations would be wise to leverage federation services that enable their users to communicate with both their internal and external business partners in real time—regardless of the underlying platforms they’re using. Even better, they should leverage communications platforms that are built with federation functionality right from the start. That way, they can be confident their workers will be able to unlock the true power of real-time communications with all of their business partners, not just the ones they share an office with.