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RingCentral acquires AI speech analytics startup DeepAffects

California-based startup DeepAffects uses AI speech analytics to collect data on voice and video calls. The information helps customers measure the productivity of meetings.

RingCentral has acquired DeepAffects to bring AI speech analytics to its unified communications and contact center platforms.

DeepAffects, a Milpitas, Calif.-based startup, specializes in using AI to analyze speech from phone or video calls. RingCentral closed the deal this month. There is no timeline for when the DeepAffects features will be available for RingCentral customers.

AI-powered speech analytics is an ongoing focus for collaboration vendors, said Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research. DeepAffects is a pioneer in the space and will help RingCentral stand out among its competition, he said.

"Differentiation is going to come in a lot of the advanced features," Kerravala said. AI is the next big battleground, and "speech technology is a big part of that."

The data that DeepAffects collects includes participants' talk-to-listen ratios, what emotion they were conveying, and what key topics they discussed. Kerravala said the information could be useful for executives to gauge how productive meetings were and how people felt about them.

DeepAffects also transcribes meetings with punctuation, key phrases and tables of contents. It also shows when each participant spoke in the conversation.

DeepAffects' AI models are "incredibly rich" and highly accurate in speech recognition and reading the speaker's emotional state, said Kira Makagon, chief innovation officer at RingCentral. The company plans to incorporate DeepAffects into its products, including its UCaaS suite and standalone video conferencing app Glip Pro+.

Kerravala said DeepAffects' capabilities will make RingCentral's contact center technology more "robust."

In 2015, RingCentral partnered with inContact to bring a contact center to market. In 2018, RingCentral acquired customer engagement platform Dimelo, which manages communication channels like SMS, email, social media and chat apps. A year later, it bought contact center provider Connect First.

During the past two years, RingCentral has announced several partnerships to aid its UCaaS suite. In 2019, RingCentral partnered with Avaya for Avaya Cloud, and, in February, partnered with French IT services and consulting company Atos. In August, RingCentral announced a partnership with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, a European telecommunications gear manufacturer.

With the pandemic, RingCentral's revenue and stock price have grown substantially. Shares have increased 138.2% year to date, and revenue has increased 30% year over year, to $304 million. The company spent about $133,000 on research and development over the course of the year.

Kerravala said RingCentral is spending money on acquisitions and not just developing everything in-house, which shows that it is "maturing as a company."

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