The video communication and conferencing market is a tight one. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic we have recorded the growth of communication platforms like Zoom and Slack, and how their fortunes fared in the face of overwhelming competition from Microsoft and its Teams offering. For much of the year, it really did not look like there was room for another product on the market.

However,  Belmont, Calif.-based RingCentral has other ideas and has just introduced a new, free solution that offers video meetings and audio conferencing with team messaging. RingCentral Glip also comes with file sharing, contact, task and calendar management making it an effective competitor for at least Slack and Zoom, if not Teams, which has so many integrations across the digital workplace that it is unlikely any offering will be to shift it.

However, Teams is strictly for Microsoft environments, especially given that it comes with all the enterprise offerings of Microsoft 365 thus making it the obvious communication choice for any company that has signed up for the suite . But not every company has taken the Microsoft route and this is clearly where RingCentral could find some easy pickings.

According to RingCentral, Glip is designed to work in hybrid environments — environment where some people are working from home and others are working onsite. RingCentral Glip, the company says, is designed to drive collaboration no matter where employees work from. While there is an impressive array of functionality there are two elements that RingCentral is really pushing:

1. Team Messaging

Built-in team messaging allows workers chat with colleagues and external parties, share files and create teams And when messages need to escalate into meetings, you can easily start a video call with a single click.

2. Video Meetings

Glip allows you to run HD video meetings with up to 100 attendees and a 24-hour time limit. Participants can join video meetings directly through their browser without requiring any downloads and can even switch from PC to smartphone (and vice versa) with a single click.

There is a precedent here already. RingCentral already offers RingCentral Office, a cloud-based business communications system with enterprise-grade voice, fax, text, online meetings, conferencing, and collaboration. It is principally designed for the enterprise. Glip is designed for the prosumer market — those people who becomes involved with designing or customizing products for their own needs and who can work inside or outside the enterprise and who are key in organization tech buying decision.

The thinking here is that if RingCentral can capture this market, they will have a hold over the market that already has a major influence on enterprise tech buying decisions. It may seem like a long shot, but RingCentral has the pockets to support this product in the face of very stiff competition, at least until it starts gaining traction in the enterprise space.

Facebook, Cisco Extend Partnership

This is not all from the communication space, though. Earlier this month, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco and  San Francisco-based Workplace from Facebook will now be working together more closely. While the two companies are already partners, this would seem to go beyond that.

Announced at the WebEx One virtual conference in December two companies say that they will be working together on a “joint product vision”, which will include a combined commercial offer between Workplace from Facebook, and Webex.

According to a statement released by Workplace, by combining the two software enterprises will get a secure and high-fidelity way to broadcast to anyone across their organization. Employees will also be able to engage in real-time through video, reactions, comments and Q&A, whether they are office-based, working from home or on the frontline.

"The beauty of this partnership is that we are delivering an end-to-end, video-first engagement solution, across both software and hardware,” said Cisco’s Senior VP of Security and Applications, Jeetu Patel. In sum, the partnership enables the companies’ customers to take advantage of the integration in addition to extending the use cases for their respective resellers and system integrators.

This follows the announcement by Workplace of a partnership with DocuSign in August, a joint services offering with Deloitte in October and in November announcement with ServiceNow.

According to Facebook, these integrations is focused on making Workplace the 'plane of engagement' to be used to with any employee (frontline, seasonal, part/full-time) in organizations that range for 10 to 500,000+ employees. For users, it offers the ability to broadcast through Webex software and hardware

The two companies have even agreed to offer Webex customers access to a free six months with Workplace from Facebook, so companies can easily experience the benefits for themselves.

Facebook Brings Desktop Voice, Video to WhatsApp

It is not the only company that has been making moves in the communication space. Facebook’s WhatsApp is readying the release of new desktop voice and video calls for the very first time.

Learning Opportunities

According to reports in the tech blog WABetaInfo, moving calling to big screens would bring it in direct competition with the likes of Zoom and Google Meet, both of which have experienced massive growth over the course of the epidemic.

This does not mean that it will, in fact, enter the workplace. WhatsApp is generally considered to be a consumer app that is not suitable for the enterprise. However, the introduction of desktop access and introduction some time ago of end-to-end encryption could push it in that direction.

That would create enormous headaches for other players in the space. WhatsApp itself already has about 2 billion users globally and as part of the Facebook company has a privileged position in respect of the social network, which has considerable traction in the enterprise.

According to the reports, WhatsApp is rolling out the calls in beta for specific users which will limit access. However, once this gets up and running, there appears to be no limit to what can be done with it especially as it the company continues to build functionality that increases its appeal and enterprise relevance

Vyopta Releases Google Meet Analytics

Elsewhere,  Austin-based Vyopta, which develops a collaboration intelligence company, has added Collaboration Performance Management (CPM) Analytics to its product offering for Google Meet.

The update will allow organizations to understand key unified communications and collaboration (UCC) performance metrics and track overall usage and adoption to improve productivity and other collaboration-related business outcomes. With Vyopta’s CPM Analytics coverage for Google Meet, organizations can now:

  • Automate service level reporting
  • Analyze user adoption and device use
  • Perform call/meeting analysis
  • Monitor SIP endpoint status and reliability

The addition of Google Meet adds to Vyopta’s UCaaS support, which also includes monitoring and analytics coverage for Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco Webex, BlueJeans and others.

Esker and DataBank Partner

Middleton, Wis.-based Esker, which develops AI-driven process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, and Dallas-based DataBank, which develops business processing provider, have announced a strategic partnership to offer Esker’s Procure-to-Pay (P2P) and Order-to-Cash (O2C) solutions to support the acceleration of digital transformation.

With existing capabilities to digitize, extract, and index data from digital and physical documents, DataBank was looking for a partner that could help further automate the accounts payable (AP) process.

Esker's AI and machine learning capabilities complement DataBank's business processing automation portfolio, providing DataBank a comprehensive solution to deploy with customers. Through this partnership, DataBank will implement and support Esker's entire P2P and O2C suite by leveraging DataBank’s professional services teams, business process automation (operation centers and Esker's suite of solutions. By joining forces, the providers will empower customers to improve their end-to-end cash conversion cycles.

With Esker and DataBank's collaboration, end-users will be able to use technology to process and validate data across the entire cash conversion cycle, allowing them to quickly scale, gain greater process visibility and improve cash flow accurately and efficiently.