Following “Accelerating Disruption,” an eye-opening presentation by Doug Leone, Managing Partner of Sequoia Capital, a panel discussion entitled “No Cloud Application Is An Island” was moderated by RingCentral’s Vice President of Applications, Marco Casalaina. Participating in this conversation were five of RingCentral’s leading integration partners:

  • Leyla Seka, SVP & GM,
  • Bence Orlai, Product Manager, ProsperWorks
  • Adam Massey, Director, Enterprise Strategic Technology Partnerships, Google
  • Michael Shaffer, VP, Business Development, Dropbox
  • Chuck Fontana, VP, Corporate and Business Development, Okta

Leyla Seka got the conversation about the importance of integration among cloud applications going pretty quickly. “These days,” she began, “if you don’t understand the value of interconnectivity between cloud applications, you should really read a book or something. If your systems don’t work together, and you can’t get information out of them that you can look at in a holistic fashion to make good decisions, you’re going to be in trouble.”

That was a great attention-getter, and the ensuing conversation might well qualify as the “or something” Leyla mentioned.

Of course, words like integration, interconnectivity, and interoperability were nothing new to the session’s attendees. In fact, Adam Massey recounted the olden days when what passed for integration between applications was hardly seamless. It was more a matter of having the ability to jump in and out of various applications throughout the day, as different tasks required you to do. With the mass migration underway by both solution providers and their customers to the cloud as the platform for getting things done, people are less inclined to play application hopscotch.

For example, many workers spend their entire day in a particular application, be it or Gmail, or any of a multitude of other apps. They don’t want to be forced to toggle between applications. These days, someone working in, Gmail, or ProsperWorks who needs to make a call, send an email, text, or initiate a meeting, wants to be able to do that from within his or her “home” application. And they want to be able to do those things with a minimum of effort. Which, the panelists agreed, is why RingCentral’s click-to-call functionality is so popular.

“It’s really about being interconnected with your fellow workers, your supply chains, your channels, and your customers from any application or platform, using any device,” Chuck Fontana explained. “You want to be able to connect and collaborate in a unified way—to be able to connect to your constituents on all of the best-of-breed applications they’re using.”

The panelists agreed that a big part of what drew the RingCentral user community together at ConnectCentral is the systems’ ability to integrate with so many applications and platforms, and to provide end users with the experience they want —voice, chat, video, meetings—all from the same application, infused right into the applications they most frequently use.

At Google, explained Adam Massey, there’s a heavy emphasis on cloud-based integrations because they’re so incredibly valuable. “We’re starting to launch programs, like a recommended-for-work program where we’re surfacing key partners like RingCentral and others; where we’ve done security validation and validated the ease of integration to take some of the guesswork out of the challenges our customers are facing. We just want to provide our customers with the best suite of business apps that work well together so they can spend more time with their customers doing what they have to do.”

Adam added, “The ability to seamlessly integrate things like voice and conferencing into the user experience—so that I can be working on a Google doc or in Gmail and have immediate access to the RingCentral dialer and my directory within the same interface—is very powerful and a great productivity enhancer.”

All of the panelists agreed that the initial fears among CIOs about the cloud have largely faded. CIOs are happily getting out of the wiring closets, and that’s allowing them to get more involved in lines of business—to add value there where it really counts.

While clearly acknowledging it as the path forward, several members of the audience posed questions about where all of this cloud app integration is leading us. Forward to what?

One attendee referenced Star Trek and the communication capabilities of the replicator, the jewelry-like badge affixed to the crew member’s uniform. In the sci-fi series, replicators can transform voice commands into actual items such as food and objects of all sorts. And all in an instant.

While acknowledging that we’re not living in a Star Trek world yet, panelists did point out that the evolution of innovative technologies for gathering, analyzing, and collaborating around data, and finding ways to transform that data into remarkable technologies, is accelerating at an amazing pace. They cited examples, including 3D printers that can create heart valves and complex machines, and self driving cars that may soon eliminate the need for any 16-year-old to ever take a driving test.

Adam Massey had the last word on this, and a very optimistic one at that, saying, “I think we are going to see a massive physical manifestation of technology innovation much faster than expected.”

And it will be built upon ongoing inventiveness and technology integration.