Here at RingCentral, we’ve learned a lot about being a cloud player in a large application ecosystem. We’ve architected RingCentral to be an open platform giving developers robust APIs, tools, and resources for them to customize their own use of RingCentral. We use our own APIs to develop off-the-shelf integrations with some of the most popular enterprise applications. It’s a great way to fulfill customer demand while delivering greater productivity and flexibility to our customers who want RingCentral’s telephony capabilities embedded in software they like to use.
With our latest integrations, the new Microsoft Skype for Business and Outlook plugins, we are building on our previously announced integration with Microsoft 365, and harnessing the power of RingCentral’s open platform and cloud communications solutions combined with other Microsoft productivity applications.
RingCentral for Microsoft Outlook lets businesses that rely on the Outlook PC client for email, calendar, and contacts list tap into RingCentral for phone calls, SMS messaging, faxes, phone conferences and online meetings. This makes it easier to schedule meetings for distributed teams, with the dial-in and online meeting information automatically recorded in the Outlook Calendar. In addition, employees get an integrated contact list, including both Outlook and RingCentral contacts. Phone numbers embedded in email messages become clickable, letting you dial them instantly through the RingCentral network. Or use the onscreen dialer to call any number, inside or outside the enterprise.
The RingCentral plugin to Skype for Business adds a RingCentral dialer widget, displayed as a “sidecar” adjacent to the Skype messaging window. This means our mutual customers can use Skype for instant messaging and RingCentral for calling, conference calling, and virtual meetings. The same contact list will work across all these modes of communication. Right click on any contact, and “Call with RingCentral” shows up on the list of options. Or start typing a name in the RingCentral widget, and matching contact names will appear for you to dial out to. You can launch a conference call or a RingCentral Meetings video call and invite people via Skype messaging.
I know some folks might wonder isn’t Skype for Business your competitor? Why do you need to release an integration for another telephony product? In today’s dynamic and interconnected world of technology, there is no such thing as one size fits all. There are plenty of folks out there who use Microsoft Office but choose not to use OneDrive. Or those who want to use Salesforce, instead of Microsoft Dynamics, even though they use Microsoft Office. The same rule applies in telephony.
We know there are some Skype for Business customers who are loyal to its instant messaging functionality, but might not be sure about its reliability or quality as an enterprise cloud phone service. And the same applies to Outlook, where we all know it’s a great enterprise email solution, but some of their customers are not convinced they want to plug Skype for Business functionality into Outlook.
It’s about choice and giving end-users the ability to use whatever they choose in the most seamless way possible. My mantra is, “Meet customer needs, and the rest will follow.” That’s why today, we’re seeing the walled gardens of the past come down, platforms opening up, and tech’s biggest names collaborating together in ways where competition becomes ‘coopetition.’
RingCentral customers who also use Skype for Business will benefit from the latest generation of our software for making and answering calls from a PC, plus all the flexibility we give you to have the same number ring your desk phone and your mobile phone. The RingCentral for Skype for Business plug-in takes advantage of the same WebRTC technology we are using for many of our new integrations, such as those with Google for Work and Microsoft’s Microsoft 365 web applications. Our plugin to the Skype for Business desktop software loads the WebRTC user interface inside an embedded browser – allowing us to deliver continual improvements to the user experience without the need to download new software. The same is true of the dialer and integrated contacts list featured in our Outlook plugin.
We want our customers to know we will always do what is right for them, including making our products work with those of our competitors. When customers tell us they “live” in an application the way many of them live in Outlook and Skype for Business messaging, we will do our part to make their lives easier and their businesses more productive.
Originally published May 26, 2016, updated Aug 21, 2020