Ring Central: a virtual phone system for a 21st Century workforce

Ring Central brings Google Voice-like tools to corporate phone systems, keeping mobile workers on a virtual PBX system.

The rise of smartphones, VPN connections and even WiFi hot spots changed the way we work. No longer was it necessary to go into the office to catch up on e-mail, do some research or create presentations. However, despite the changing times, businesses still wanted to give the impression that employees are in the office when they're receiving or making business phone calls outside the office.

Ring Central, which provides cloud-based corporate phone services, is offering a phone system that brings the best of both worlds - the flexibility of a single phone number that follows workers everywhere they go, but without having to leave the internal phone-tree system.

Ring Central is like a corporate version of Google Voice, a Web-based phone number that can be programmed to ring a cell phone, remote office line or even the home phone - but without leaving the corporate PBX-like system. That way, even if the call goes unanswered, callers still have the option of being transferred to a switchboard operator or another employee. In a statement, the company explained its services:

As the traditional office transforms and more staff are working from various remote locations, the inability to integrate distributed and mobile employees into a single business phone system results in a plethora of numbers and overall inefficient and non-professional communications. Legacy on-premise business phone systems are not only extremely expensive, but were designed for the old world of centralized office environments and before the era of Internet and mobile phones.  RingCentral delivers cloud based business phone systems – RingCentral Office -- that is designed for the modern mobile and distributed business world, and does so at a fraction of the cost.

A survey conducted by the company found that only about 15 percent of small- to medium-sized business employees work from a single physical location while nearly half of the employees - 45 percent - saying that they spend about 75 percent of their time conducting business away from the office.

    As a guy who spends a fair amount of time working from the halls of Moscone Center, random WiFi hot spots, my own kitchen table and even a commuter train, I recognize the importance of a single phone number for people to reach me. I use a Google Voice number to stay connected but that's certainly not tied to my physical office line. I have my own system of using Google Voice and the office line and, for it works - for the moment.

    If you're a company that has a largely mobile workforce, there is a better way. And so far, Ring Central seems to be it.

    Related coverage: Business Week: 1.4 million Google Voice users, global push in the works