Real Time Communications Featured Article

Seven Key Trends Driving Real Time Communications

May 07, 2014

The way we work, play and communicate every day has completely transformed from a decade ago. Today, we demand constant accessibility; we want information right when we need it and we want to communicate people regardless of if they are at their desks or not. Technology has made these expectations realistic, enabling real time communications.


The growth in mobile devices over the last decade can really be explained as more of an explosion or epidemic. Smartphones and tablets are used as to communicate, work, share and access content, network, shop, research, pay bills, navigate and so much more – in other words, they have become completely immersed in our everyday lives. Thanks to carrier networks, Wi-Fi connectivity and real time data transmission, we are able to perform tasks on our mobile devices just as if we were on our desktops.


One of the effects of the mobility boom has been the growth of remote workforces and bring your own device (BYOD) in organizations of all sizes and in all industries. Today, work is defined by what you do, not where you are. IT departments and managers have had to adjust like crazy, making sure data is secure, networks are reliable and access is granted to the right users.


The cloud is what is enabling remote workforces, BYOD, mobility and any type of hosted service. It takes the limitations of on-premises to the Internet to store, manage and process data, and offers infrastructure as a service. Using websites to share and store content and collaborate with other users is possible because of the cloud, and the amount of how much we rely on these websites continues to grow. My mail, my social network, my photos and my documents are all hosted online – we’re not limited to the confines of our desktops anymore, and enterprises aren’t limited to on-premises solutions. Lower costs, better performance and more convenience for users are some of the key benefits and reasons the cloud is contributing to the growth of real time communications.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data

The IoT consists of billions of connected endpoints all interacting with each other. It is cars communicating with roadwork updates, people controlling a home security system from a mobile application, sprinklers adjusting to weather and doctors tracking a patient from their wearable fitness tracker. With so many applications, products and systems gathering data, it’s critical that data can be transmitted in real time to perform actions and analyze metrics.


Just as mobile devices are replicating the desktop experience, video is replicating real-life interactions. Networks are become more capable to handle the high bandwidth demands that video brings, and more companies, applications and services are embedding video to integrate that personal touch. Contact centers are embedding video functionality as part of their multichannel strategy, retailers are adding video as added support to the e-commerce experience and education administrators are turning to video to enhance the growing online education market.


Fueling this growth of video is a technology called WebRTC, or Web-based real time communications. It’s still a relatively new technology – only a few years old – but is being used by companies like Google, Snapchat and Amazon to enhance products and services. The HTML5 technology enables peer-to-peer communication, including video and audio calling, file transferring and screen sharing, right in a browser. Many companies are also using WebRTC to integrate these capabilities in applications, but the key is that WebRTC eliminates challenges like downloads and plugins to enable real time communications.


Over-the-top (OTT) services run over a network and are not offered by that network operator – Hulu, Netflix, Skype and WhatsApp are all examples of OTT applications. In addition to third-party applications, there are also other OTT alternatives, such as OS-specific communication systems like iMessage and BlackBerry Messenger. These applications take advantage of the benefits of Internet-based communication and capabilities of today’s smart devices.

Smartphones and other mobile devices have revolutionized OTT services such as voice and video over wireless networks, offering multimedia and advanced communication functions and furthering the development and delivery of real-time communications. But the impact off the rise in OTT applications on service providers isn’t all bad – they have the option to embrace the technology and apply services of their own to drive traffic onto their networks, extend their networks’ reach and retain subscribers quickly and cost-effectively.

Real time communications is absolutely the future for how we work, collaborate, communicate, share and access data, and it’s because of all these other technology trends happening around us. They’re leading us to Web 3.0, bringing the Web to the next level of context-based online experiences.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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