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Why Webrtc Is The Next Phase Of Real-Time Communications

By Kevin Riley, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technology Officer, Sonus


Kevin Riley, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technology Officer, Sonus

This year marks the five-year anniversary of WebRTC,  an industry-wide initiative that looks to bring real-time  voice and video communications to web-browsers  and mobile apps. Since it was first introduced, WebRTC has been the subject of much speculation. Some believe  it to be a game changer for communications, much like  the “Worldwide Web” before it. Others see it as a smaller  role player in the wider communications fabric. However,  both can agree on one point: businesses are no longer just  talking about WebRTC, but actually implementing it in  their networks.

“ By embedding WebRTC into its online and mobile channels, retailers can significantly reduce  the number of calls that utilize  the toll-free number service and  thus drive down their operational  costs without impacting customer convenience or quality of service”

In its 2015 WebRTC State-of-the-Market  Report,Webtorials, an online community for IT  professionals, noted that nearly half of all enterprises  surveyed (47%) had either deployed WebRTC applications  or were planning to do so in the next 12 months. While  the report shows clear market momentum for WebRTC,  it also highlights some of the uncertainty still surrounding  WebRTC. For example, nearly one in three enterprises  do not have any future plans for WebRTC, and many  enterprises worry that a lack of standardization and  industry-wide acceptance could hinder its effectiveness.

 Perhaps the biggest barrier to WebRTC’s future  success is the bottom line. Many businesses don’t have a  clear vision of how WebRTCapplications will reduce costs, drive revenue, create competitive differentiation and improve  customer service criteria that are critical to making the  business case for the technology. In order to help demystify  WebRTC and explain why many of us in the industry are  excited at its arrival, let me illustrate a few business cases  that depict why WebRTC is the next phase of real-time  communications.

WebRTC Can Drive Down Costs
For many businesses, multi channel  marketing is essential to acquiring  and retaining profitable customers. This is especially true for “big box”  retailers that spend a significant  amount of capital maintaining both  a physical and virtual presence. For  today’s consumer, “multi channel”  means more than stores and websites;  it includes call centers and mobile  applications as well. One of the  highest costs in a call center is the toll free  number service that businesses  need to provide for free customer  calls since it isn’t a free service to  the business that provides it. However,  by embedding  WebRTC into its  online and mobile channels,retailers  can significantly reduce the number of  calls that utilize the toll free number  service and thus drive down their  operational costs without impacting  customer convenience or quality of  service.

WebRTC Can Drive Revenue
WebRTC can also play a fundamental   role in driving sales growth, especially   in the service industry where real-time customer interaction is of  prime importance. For instance, in  the travel industry, interaction with live agents is at a premium, which  often translates into long wait times. Anyone who has missed their flight  can appreciate the frustration of being   at the back of the line when time  is limited. Now, imagine being able  to reach a live ticket agent from your  mobile phone in moments who can  help you find a new flight all without   having to wait on the line. Not  surprisingly, airlines, hotels and car  rental agencies have a heavy interest  in WebRTC’s ability to give them a  real-time customer advantage especially one that could be marketed as  a premium service to drive additional  revenue.

 WebRTC  Can Improve Customer Service
Our last example clearly had a  customer service upside, but the value  of WebRTC iseven more pronounced   when companies combine its real-time  capabilities to create better customer  conversations. In the Asia Pacific  region, WebRTC can play a vital role in driving customer interactions  in the area of telemedicine, a key  necessity in the region. Boasting  over one billion smartphone users,  citizens across the region can leverage their mobile Internet connectivity to  have on-demand access to healthcare  professionals, right at their fingertips. This is especially beneficial to those  residing in rural areas where getting  access to medical facilities and  professionals can be challenging. As  patients and healthcare professionals  communicate real-time the result  is an easier and more convenient  consultation process for both parties.
 Right now, you may be thinking, “this all sounds great, but how  do I get started?” As with many  network technologies, it starts with   integration. WebRTC is simple  to use, but it can be complex to integrate into an existing network   infrastructure or application  environment. It is importantfor  enterprises wanting to deploy  WebRTC to lookfor vendors that  have simplified the integration  process through their solutions  offering. These include WebRTC  gateways that interconnect WebRTC  and SIP sessions in order to support   communications across the widest  possible ecosystem of browsers, devices and appliances. Additionally, it would also be advantageousif   companies work with a vendor that  offers a toolkit to simplify the creation  of reliable WebRTC applications,  as this can help web and application  developers drastically speed up time to - market of these next generation communication applications.

One thing is for certain: the  business-to-consumer conversation  is going to get a lot more interesting  in the coming year as new WebRTC applications emerge.

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