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RingCentral the latest UCaaS vendor to acquire a cloud contact center

RingCentral is the latest UCaaS startup to push more heavily into the cloud contact center market with its acquisition of customer engagement vendor Dimelo.

RingCentral plans to acquire the cloud customer engagement platform Dimelo. The acquisition is the latest in a series of moves this year by cloud telephony vendors to add cloud contact center products to their portfolios.

Dimelo makes a cloud-based platform for managing digital customer communication channels, including SMS, email, social media messaging and chat apps, such as WeChat. The software has open APIs, so businesses can connect it to phone systems, customer relationship management software and chatbots.

The acquisition will give RingCentral direct sales lines to Dimelo's 160 customers, which include large enterprises such as Allianz, AXA, BNP Paribas, ENGIE, Orange and Telenor. Dimelo is also one of a handful of partners in the beta program of Apple Business Chat, a consumer-to-business messaging service native to iOS devices.

In its annual ranking of vendors, which was released this week, Gartner reaffirmed RingCentral's status as a leader of the fast-growing market for unified communications as a service (UCaaS). RingCentral had more UCaaS seats than any other vendor as of the second quarter of 2018, with 18% of the total, according to Synergy Research, based in Reno, Nev.

RingCentral did not disclose the financial terms of the Dimelo deal. But the company advised investors that the acquisition -- expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2018 -- would not significantly affect its balance sheet this year.

UCaaS vendors enter cloud contact center market

RingCentral's decision to buy Dimelo provides further proof that the markets for UC and contact center platforms are converging in the cloud, and it underscores the urgency for UCaaS vendors to enhance their cloud contact center offerings.

Most UCaaS vendors already make contact center platforms available to customers through partnerships with pure-play vendors, like Nice inContact. This year, UCaaS vendors have stepped up efforts to build out their portfolios.

Last month, UCaaS vendor Vonage acquired cloud contact center vendor NewVoiceMedia in a $350 million deal -- Vonage's largest buy to date. And earlier this year, 8x8 added the X Series contact center platform to its pure-cloud product line.

"Now that the cloud has made contact center alternatives real, it's kind of like a wild west," said Jon Arnold, principal of Toronto-based analysis firm J Arnold & Associates. "Anybody can do this. You don't need to have this 20- to 30-year pedigree of being a pure-play contact center player to be in the space."

By acquiring Dimelo and NewVoiceMedia, RingCentral and Vonage are trying to shore up future positions as second-tier contact center vendors behind market leaders like Avaya and Genesys, Arnold said.

"When you take these kinds of vendors off the table, like a NewVoiceMedia, that gives fewer opportunities for smaller up-and-coming cloud contact center [vendors] to do what Vonage and RingCentral are doing now," Arnold said.

Nearly 37% of companies in a recent Nemertes Research survey said they bought UC and contact center products from the same vendor, according to Robin Gareiss, president of the firm, which is based in Mokena, Ill.

"For UCaaS companies to have a complete portfolio that is competitive with other cloud providers, as well as on-premises providers, [digital customer engagement] needs to be part of the solution," Gareiss said. "The question is, will they need a full contact center platform in the future, or can they engage customers with new, AI-powered digital platforms?"

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