Cloud-based hosted PBX services have transformed business telecommunications in recent years, offering tremendous benefits to companies big and small alike. Cost savings are realized by eliminating the need to purchase, maintain and upgrade expensive hardware as well as the ability to reduce costs associated with internal management of networks that power such communications.
RingCentral and Vonage Business are two of the major players in the cloud communications space that focus heavily on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
If you are in the market for cloud-hosted voice services and want to know more about how these two companies stack up against each other, read on.
The RingCentral Approach
RingCentral’s offering and marketing squarely centers on the medium business market. It capitalizes on the desire of these companies to leverage not only the power of the cloud but the "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) movement, or so it says.
Technically, you could say that a BYOD solution is any offering that allows people within an organization to use their existing hardware (most commonly a Smartphone but it can also be a tablet or even a laptop) in conjunction with the company’s network and infrastructure. That definition is clearly what RingCentral is hanging its hat on these days, although it is not what a BYOD solution in its purest form really is, nor is it what RingCentral used to offer.
In the past, RingCentral delivered software that gave employees the ability to use their personal electronic devices on company networks, i.e. to make business calls with personal cell phones. That’s it. Today, RingCentral requires that companies sign up for more comprehensive service plans that offer this functionality and more. Without the purchase of actual phone lines and the accompanying features, customers cannot get the app that enabled the BYOD capability. RingCentral seems to be doing a good job of leveraging its old marketing and reputation as 'the' BYOD company even though it has changed its methodology somewhat.
The Vonage Business Approach
Vonage Business has a range of features that can accommodate everything from small businesses to larger enterprises depending upon the options selected.
Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of the difference in the approach between RingCentral and Vonage Business is their pricing models. RingCentral follows a standard setup with three basic plans structured on a graduated set of features.
Until recently, Vonage Business did not offer set plans but operated solely on a “Build Your Own” approach. This provided amazing flexibility and scalability of solutions but could also be quite complex and, quite frankly, daunting especially for small or medium businesses. It has just recently launched three plan levels but still touts its customizable path as well for those who want it.
Even with the rollout of set plans by Vonage Business, the structure of each company’s plans and the features offered in each are so radically different that the best way to compare them is by feature type.
One point of note is that Vonage Business does provide a mobile app which allows businesses to let their employees use personal devices with the service. Given this, Vonage Business is every bit a BYOD provider as RingCentral even though they don’t tout it near to the extent that RingCentral Does. Vonage Business even gives users the ability to consolidate message receipt from multiple devices (desk phones, different computers, mobile phones and tablets) into one inbox for easy management.
Basic Call Management
Both RingCentral and Vonage Business offer robust options for handling calls. Many features are common to both companies while some are offered by one only, as follows:
- Call Forwarding
- Call Recording
- Call Logs and Reports
- Call Flip or Pass
- Call Park
- Call Screen
- Hold Music
- Call Monitoring
Other Ringcentral Call Management Features
- Answering Rules
- Shared Lines
- Message Alerts
- Missed Call Notification
- Visual Voicemail
Other Vonage Business Call Management Features
- Call Announcement
- Single InBox for All Messages
- Call Queuing (calls placed in a queue)
- Caller ID including number blocking, custom tagging, ID setting and dynamic changes
- Voicemail transcription
Additional Service Features
In addition to what could be considered basic call functionality, both RingCentral and Vonage Business deliver a host of related features. The following is an overview of how they compare:
|Voicemail to email as audio file or email text.||Voicemail to email as audio.|
|Visual voicemail.||Voicemail transcription.|
|Audio conferencing up to 1,000 participants||Audio conferencing bridge, unknown if maximum number of participants|
|Online conferencing||Online conferencing not available|
|Video conferencing up to 50 participants||Video conferencing up to 25 participants|
|Directory Listing||Main Company Number|
|Via Phone, Tablet or Computer||Not Specified|
|Includes number blocking, push and pull email notification||Not Specified|
They both offer integration of various 3rd party software packages. Here is a list of the most commons ones for each provider:
- Oracle Sales Cloud
- Microsoft Dynamics
- Infor CRM
It is all but impossible to compare the pricing of RingCentral to Vonage Business although the recent introduction of set plans by Vonage Business makes it more doable than before. Following is an overview of the different plan tiers for each company with monthly prices:
Standard Plan versus Starter Plan
|Standard Plan||Starter Plan|
|$24.99 per user||$34.99 per line|
|Up to 4 people per online meeting||40 standard features plus:|
|1,000 toll-free minutes||Local number|
|9 other standard features||Toll-free number|
Premium Plan versus Essential Plan
|Premium Plan||Essential Plan|
|$34.99 per user||$49.99 per line|
|Up to 25 people per online meeting||Starter plan features plus:|
|2,500 toll-free minutes||Call group|
|14 other standard features||Conference bridge|
Enterprise Plan versus Premium Plan
|Enterprise Plan||Premium Plan|
|$44.99 per user||$49.99 per line|
|Up to 50 people per online meeting||Essential plan features plus:|
|10,000 toll-free minutes||Paperless fax|
|15 other standard features|
Build Your Own Plan
Vonage Business also have a build your own service plan which starts at $39.99 per line. As the name suggests you can pick and choose from a wide range of features and plug-ins available for additional monthly costs. Ringcentral do NOT currently have this option.
A Few Key Differences
It is difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison of these two company’s offerings as their plan structures are so wildly different. But, in looking at the above, a few key differences jump to the forefront.
- RingCentral Advantages:
Hands down RingCentral offers far superior and more robust conferencing and collaboration options. Business SMS messaging is also another plus for RingCentral as that is fast becoming a more widely utilized form of communication by businesses in all sectors. In addition, the ability to share lines, customize answer rules and send voicemail to email as text and not just audio stand out as big plusses.
- Vonage Business Advantages:
Overall, Vonage Business offers more sophisticated call management functionality. Multiple options for caller ID setup and use, and voicemail transcription would be attractive to any business. Clearly Vonage Business has an eye on the full sales cycle as well with its click to call from a web page feature and that’s, well, just plain smart. While Vonage Business was wise to develop set plans, it was also a smart move to keep its customizable “build your own plan” option. This allows it to play well to a broad spectrum of customers and may prove to be a beneficial competitive advantage.
Somewhat surprising is that Vonage Business does not offer better collaboration options as its overall suite of functionality lends it to be more attractive to larger, enterprise operations and clearly audio, online or video conferencing would all be essential for these larger businesses. The lack of a business SMS feature could be a significant deal breaker for many prospective customers.
RingCentral certainly has some gaps in its offerings, but this is perhaps less surprising as RingCentral plays more in the mid-range market. By nature, this means customers will not get all of the bells and whistles available.
For a comprehensive side by side comparison of features for these two providers and many others check out our VoIP comparison tool.
Which One is Right for Your Business?
If your business needs a lower-cost entry into cloud-hosted PBX systems, RingCentral could give you what you need. If, however, you need the utmost in flexibility, the option to build a custom plan could make Vonage Business the choice for you. Your future growth projections and need for specific collaboration capabilities can also play into your decision.
The bottom line is that both companies will give you robust services and allow integration with desktops, laptops, tablets and Smartphones to make your workforce as productive as possible from virtually anywhere. There is likely no right or wrong answer as to which one you should choose, just a matter of which one is right for your business at this time.