RingCentral has hired David Berman, a former high-ranking executive from WebEx, a move that shows the market significance of a cloud-based approach to routing calls to different mobile devices similarly if they were extensions on a phone tree.
RingCentral is one of those companies that fits into new world of the work place by automating the phone tree. It abstracts the PBX just as software and service providers are abstracting almost any hardware you can imagine, turning every mobile device into an extension designed in particular for today’s work. It helps remove the struggle that comes with typing in a password for a conference call while in the car or routing SMS messages to the right people.
Berman brings a certain high-powered image to the company that will have to appeal to corporate IT executives who still have deep relationships with the PBX vendor crowd. But more so, it’s my bet he will use the web more than taking CEOs out for steak dinners. He does have SaaS chops to make RingCentral work. At WebEx, he helped drive sales through a web-based approach — something that’s critical in today’s sales and marketing world.
In an interview, Berman said the PBX market is worth $100 billion. It’s that market opportunity that he sees opening and a big reason he joined RingCentral. Berman started at WebEx in 1999 and stayed until 2008. According to LinkedIn, Berman is also on the WatchDox and Oovoo board of directors. He remains as chairman of Affectiva, a company with facial recognition technology spun out from MIT.
In those first years at WebEx, Internet startups were getting battered by the market fallout and the overall economy suffered an overall malaise. Web conferencing, though, boomed, as it represented a way to cut down on the costs of travel. It was one of the first signs of a market that would prosper with the advent of a funky new way to work, using the Internet and a new breed of mobile devices.
The PBX phone system still was the way to communicate; it symbolized the office of the IT age. Cool in its capabilities at the time, an office jockey had commands, touch-tone sequences really, to orchestrate communication. Taking calls. transferring, forwarding, conferencing — master it and the corporate network would wake up. The PBX served as the domain of the office admin — a seat of power, the CEO’s communications artery. But then came mobile and here we are. Google Voice acts as a way to filter calls. And there is an ecosystem of virtual assistants that have emerged. Dexetra, Indisys and Nuance Nina just to name a few. There are also more business focused services and voice technology suppliers that Opus Research covers.
Today’s workplace has a different reality. We live in a new world where the office metaphor is giving way to the virtual metaphor. No longer can we think of the office as the place of work. It’s everywhere that we are — just like the cloud.