Before this refinement and growth can happen, in case you are just dabbling in WebRTC, or you’re not sure what it is, here’s what you need to know, so you can leverage its many benefits for your organization.
The gist of it
WebRTC – short for Web Real-Time Communication – is a free (that could change), easy to use, open-source project designed to enable peer-to-peer communication, including audio, video and data sharing. Depending on the browser, WebRTC doesn’t require any plugins, frameworks or applications in order to function. There are also free plugins for other browsers or older browser versions within reason. It is also device independent, which makes it within reach.
An invaluable asset
Given all of the benefits, it’s not surprising that WebRTC is considered invaluable. A recent Webtorials infographic noted that 69 percent of companies have, by this point, either deployed WebRTC tools or have plans to do so in the near future. In 2014, only 56 percent of firms had reached this stage. This same infographic also noted that 90 percent of businesses believe WebRTC may improve contact center services, 67 percent view the technology as a potential solution to external video requirements and 85 percent believe WebRTC compliments SIP effectively.
For many of us Web communication is still text or image based, or video derivatives like Skype or FaceTime. Video has become widely accepted and, these days, it is viewed as a basic function of engaging with your customers and your colleagues. If you’re not offering video as part of your customer service yet, or your employees are not engaging in any video or web conferencing, or participating in any live chats, than you are behind, and should seriously consider this source in order to meet your clients’ expectations and improve communications within your enterprise. WebRTC brings voice and video directly in the browser, and it can make the addition of video-based support smoother and less costly for corporations across sectors.
It’s time you get on board
How your customers want to communicate with you has changed. They have expectations that you should be available from anywhere at anytime. More and more companies will need to meet these on-demand expectations that will help customers save on time. The Web is easy. For efficiency purposes, most of everything that we do today that requires a service or a purchase of product is done online. We lead online lives, so that we can have more time living life offline with family and friends. The websites and applications that are designed today must be flexible to meet the customer demands of tomorrow, and WebRTC does just that – it’s a real-time peer to peers communication approach that allows for better video quality, lightning fast connection times, better audio and video, and no Flash requirement.
Where contact centers are going
Contact Centers are evolving, and WebRTC will be considered an invaluable tool for many of them. Internally, WebRTC will be used to make training more efficient and effective for contact center agents. Colleagues will stay connected on and off-site via live meetings, forums and discussions. It may not be the “end all and be all” of your operations today, but as more and more companies turn to remote workers to find their agents, making reliable, low-cost two-way communication is a must.
Additionally, the simplicity and availability of WebRTC solutions make it an obvious choice for deploying live video customer service and live chat support. Many contact centers today are moving towards social networks and omnichannel solutions, and WebRTC is clearing the path for service providers to extend global offers to consumers and businesses. Eventually, it will be used to replace phones altogether by feeding into CRM and support services.
We shop online, pay our bills and bank online, take classes online and consult with specialists online. With widespread compatibility and less training required, WebRTC will become a prerequisite for both agents and customers.
The role of IT
Company IT departments need to invest in WebRTC, otherwise it just won’t happen. It’s a major investment upfront and requires full on behavioral change that must be adopted by everyone in an organization. However, it is worthwhile and cost-effective in the long run.
Eventually all browsers will need to be updated with WebRTC, but for many at the moment the issue is firewall restrictions and signaling and routing – they are an impediment to WebRTC proper functioning and all the benefits that multi-party communications can offer to a company. Exceptions must be made by IT for communication outside the firewalls. To alleviate security concerns IT can look into a single trusted source for people to connect to. However, as I am typing this, I’m sure video conferencing technology platforms are becoming a dying breed. WebRTC will eventually be the only way, and it takes security seriously by mandating the encryption of its media.
Ultimately, the major takeaway here is that WebRTC offers a great deal of value and utility for businesses of all kinds, and decision-makers should act sooner rather than later to take advantage of it.
Larry Brown is in charge of product management for Telax. As a 25-year industry veteran, he has put his Technologist education to work, spending early days in engineering, tech support and applications design roles. During his time at Telax, Larry launched one of the first Cloud Contact Center “software as a service” products on the market, managing the product for 10 years.