RingCentral has turned a three-year-old European expansion bid into a push towards regional dominance, according to Sahil Rekhi, VP and Managing Director EMEA.
One of the best ways to illustrate the extent of RingCentral’s European advance is within the context of Rekhi’s past experience. He has worked in the comms sector for 15 years and is credited with launching the Vodafone One Net UC proposition across key European markets including the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Ireland. In March 2017 at RingCentral he launched across 13 European nations simultaneously, setting up and scaling the business. He also brought to market RingCentral’s cloud solution with BT. Not surprisingly, the company is growing at 34 per cent year-on-year with mid-market and enterprise growing at 59 per cent. “We have also seen tremendous growth locally, and our teams across Europe are growing,” stated Rekhi.
He describes himself as a ‘natural technology evangelist’, focused on driving and enabling business transformation via technology. “My journey began when I started an internship at Vodafone and I was attracted by two aspects of the industry – fast-paced innovation at every level, and the critical nature of what communications means to businesses as a lifeline, feeding every aspect of developing and delivering products and services,” he said.
“Joining RingCentral seven years ago gave me another opportunity to make a substantive impact. The working style is characteristic of a start-up, despite the company having over 5,000 employees. What I also find attractive is the pace of work, which is refreshingly high, driven by a ‘can do’ attitude.”
RingCentral’s high spec ‘engine’ is driving growth in multiple areas, and strategic partnerships, such as the link up with Avaya, are providing a runway to a large installed base currently using legacy services. “We are also continuing to build on our fastest growth segment of upmarket business, which is growing over 70 per cent,” added Rekhi. “And we are expanding our global presence.
“The market was already at an inflection point two years back, but the unprecedented Covid-19 situation has increased the demand for cloud communications further. Every business is evolving to embrace flexible working and other benefits of cloud services. Now is the time to get our heads down, execute at pace and help drive success for our partners and customers.”
RingCentral offers a portfolio of services covering Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS), with a focus on customer experience and engagement. “We’ve witnessed a drive towards digital transformation in the market, not just for back office staff but for front line workers across industries like retail, FinServ and healthcare,” noted Rekhi. “This drive is fuelling the demand for unified communications and collaboration, and for cloud-based solutions. This enables our clients to meet the expectations of their customers and stay agile in a rapidly changing business environment.”
The biggest shift in the market, observed Rekhi, is large enterprise organisations moving from on-premises legacy communications stacks to cloud systems. “This is driving innovation in the industry to bring to market integrated experiences as well as vertical solutions for back office and front-line staff,” he commented. “But most importantly, it’s changing the way customers operate and measure businesses for themselves.
Now is the time to get our heads down, execute at pace and help drive success for our partners and customers
“These kinds of shifts result in changes in business models for many industries. Not only is RingCentral a part of this change, enabling disruption of other industries, it is influencing our technology development. The evolution of our portfolio, based on what our customers, prospects and partners are feeding back to us in terms of challenges and feature requests, is a key element of our product development cycle.”
RingCentral invests 20 per cent of revenues into R&D. A recent example is the launch of RingCentral Video which delivers an instant ‘join from browser’ experience without the need to download any apps. “We are also focused on how this service is consumed by our end users, and how to improve the pre- and post-meeting experience for the host and participants of video meetings,” noted Rekhi. “For example, if a participant has joined a meeting, our system will automatically trigger the call to the host to bring them directly into the meeting. This is made possible by the integrated experience across our messaging, video and phone services.”
Ongoing areas of investment include enhanced analytics, an open platform with an app store of integrated third party applications, and layering RingCentral’s product to solve AI-assisted business challenges. “We’ll also continue to invest in and expand our partnership strategy and channel harmony programme, as they have allowed us to develop productive relationships with a variety of organisations,” added Rekhi. “And we will strengthen and innovate our UCaaS and CCaaS offerings given the pace of evolution in the marketplace. There’s no room for complacency.”
Rekhi also pointed out that RingCentral is experiencing strong growth across its partner community. “Channel is core to the fabric of communication services globally, and I see that set to continue and grow in the coming years,” he added. “I’m confident all vendors are going to invest more in enabling channel partners. This community maintains the trust and the relationship with customers, and at times like those we’re experiencing right now, that’s more critical than ever. Customers are ramping up their engagement with the channel to seek advice and solutions as they prepare to establish the new normal of working from home and further embrace virtual engagement.
“With SaaS, the role of channel partners is also going to evolve, providing wider bundled solutions across the IT stack. Furthermore, partners will play a bigger role in delivering integration services to end customers, putting them in the driving seat to deliver on business objectives and KPIs for their customers.”
Almost 50 per cent of RingCentral’s revenues in the region are driven by its channel community, and Rekhi reaffirmed the company’s commitment to partners and their capacity to drive greater revenues. “We continue to invest in the community, and through this investment we expect to see the contribution from our channel partners grow at a rapid pace,” he stated.
“Every opportunity, no matter how big or small, is important to us. Every partner, every customer, every prospect takes us on a journey to learn, develop and evolve just as we are taking them on a transformational journey over time. The key to success is to stay grounded, address feedback and drive relentless execution in this marketplace, as the global opportunity for cloud communications is in the range of over $60 billion.”