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WebRTC: The Next Big Thing in Unified Communications

August 05, 2014

There’s a new cowboy on the unified communications frontier, and its name is WebRTC.

WebRTC enables browser-to-browser communications without the need to download plugins. It also simplifies application creation for developers on the back end. And the contact center, and customer interactions in general, are expected to benefit from WebRTC.

Already, WebRTC is supported on more than 1 billion endpoints, says Google, a major WebRTC proponent. Disruptive Analysis expects the number of WebRTC-capable endpoints to grow to 3.9 billion by 2016.

All that is expected to add up to major disruption in the contact center, in the videoconferencing space, and related to web conferencing, according to the WebRTC Outlook 2014 Report.

“Overall, the general view is that WebRTC is gaining velocity and is viewed even more favorably at the beginning of 2014 than at the beginning of 2013,” according to the report. “When it comes to 2014 growth and adoption, the community is split, with an equal number believing that 2014 will be the year versus 2015 or beyond.”

Phil Edholm, WebRTC expert and president and principal at PKE Consulting LLC and UC, suggests “The thing that is really exciting about WebRTC is that, in addition to enabling a website to allow two peer endpoints to begin a rich media session (voice, video, data, etc.) with a relatively simple set of instructions, WebRTC is the initial technology showing the change coming in the industry, the webification of communications.”

Webification, Edholm elaborates, will free me millions of web servers to manage a succession of independent communications events, each tuned to the specific needs and requirements of the event.

“Just as we all have hundreds of different web information experiences monthly, each web communications experience can be defined by the suite hosting the event,” he says.

As noted in the WebRTC Roundup in the April issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine, there is already a broad array of companies with WebRTC solutions in the market place.

For example, earlier this year GENBAND introduced SMART OFFICE 2.0, a WebRTC-enabled unified communications platform. Developed in HTML5, the SMART OFFICE 2.0 soft-client delivers a premium suite of voice, video, conferencing, chat, presence and collaboration features through a browser.

And in April 2013 GENBAND introduced SPiDR, a WebRTC gateway. SPiDR sits at the edge of the network and provides open, web-centric APIs that allow application developers to leverage the rich communications services of the telecommunications network – including voice, video, presence, shared address book, call history, instant messaging, and collaboration. Leveraging SpiDR’s advanced technology service providers can now quickly extend the reach and breadth of their offerings to include rich multimedia directly from any web browser – including voice, video, IM and presence. The OS-agnostic SpiDR (Windows, Android, iOS, BlackBerry) makes it possible to offer rich unified voice, video and shared-data services to all subscribers, via desktop, laptop, smartphones, tablets or mobile phone browsers. Additionally, GENBAND’s SPiDR investment enables the integration of WebRTC into all areas of the service provider network – from the core, to the edge, to the experience – and across any network architecture.

In fact, retailer Toy Genius will go live this month with a website through which shoppers can communicate in real time with clerks that can tell them about products, answer their questions, and trigger videos showing those products in action. While talking with online clerks, shoppers can continue browsing the Toy Genius website, and the clerks can see what they’re looking at to engage them in conversations about additional products on which the shoppers have paused. Not only can the clerks interact with and share information with shoppers, they can put the products customers select into virtual shopping carts and move shoppers to the checkout when the time is right.

For more on this topic, Greg Zweig, director of Solutions Marketing at GENBAND will present during a session at the upcoming ITEXPO business technology event in Las Vegas focused on the topic of how UC can help businesses maximize savings and increase ROI. “Winning ROI: How Much Should UC Cost and How Can You Increase Its Value to Your Business,” will take place on Wednesday Aug. 13 at 10AM.  Stay in touch with everything happening at the event -- follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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