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WebRTC, Contact Centers and the Ghost of Technology Past

December 12, 2014

Last night, I received a visit from the Ghost of Technology Past. Shrouded in a robe overloaded with netbooks, he wanted to talk to me about WebRTC and the contact center.  "Remember!," he shrieked," Remember the contact center promises of the past!"




Rubbing my eyes and wondering if I had drunk too much holiday cheer on a weekday, I squinted at him.

"Which contact center promises of the past?," I asked. "There are so many.  Can you narrow it down a bit? I mean, contact centers have been in the process of transformation over the past decade or so with VoIP and IP and websites and IM and mobile, and the cloud and social media and video... you see my point…"

The Ghost stopped for a minute, flummoxed that I had dared to question him.  After a moment, he spoke again.

"Dashboard.  You forgot dashboards. And profit centers.  Virtual agents. And multi-channel communication. Outsourcing. Insourcing. Home agents.  Self-service. And profit center and... OK, you got me," he said. "Transformation and disruption." 

The Ghost of Technology Past stared blindly into the air for a moment, a look of anguish on his face.

"Maybe you need a seat," I said. "Um... do your spirits have your own technical support number? Maybe a refresh on why you are visiting me."
 
"Hush," he grunted. "Contextual communications... no, that's not it.  Big Data, no.  Ah, WebRTC.  I have come to warn you of the perils of WebRTC!"

"Perils?  What is perilous about WebRTC? Everyone is moving in that direction.  Why, even Microsoft has come around to supporting WebRTC," I said. 

"Foolish mortal, it is one thing to issue a press release, yet another to implement a solution," he growled. "WebRTC poses grave dangers to contact centers!"

"Aren't you being a little overdramatic?," I said. "Too much coffee or whatever you drink in the spirit world?"

"In the not-too-distance-past, contact centers were to be obsolete, eliminated by the ability to make every employee a contact center agent," the Ghost said. "It was all going to happen because you could route calls anywhere to anyone in the world through the power of VoIP. Do you remember?"

"But that didn't happen," I said. "Employees had all their regularly assigned tasks to perform, so you couldn't just zippy-dippy instantly pull in a subject matter expert or sales engineer within the company because they were doing their regular work or on travel."

"Exactly!  WebRTC can bring two-way video to the contract center!" 

I waited patiently as The Ghost paused. 

"And....this is a bad thing because..."

"Because video has costs, mortal.  Bandwidth. Video cameras for two-way interaction--"

"Bandwidth I get," I interrupted.  "Some higher multiple of high-quality voice over a network times the number of contact center agents means bigger pipes.  I'm not bothered about video cameras so much. Laptops, smart phones and tablets all have them."

"Yes, but are you providing up to date equipment? That's an expense. BYOD? Welcome to support headaches and security issues.  Besides, those are nothing compared to the human issues involved, nothing I say!"

"Hey. What's wrong with humans? You were human once, right?"

"Yes, but I don't have a corporeal form anymore. I don't have to worry about if I get coffee or spaghetti sauce on my corporate shirt before I come to give you advice," The Ghost stated. "Nobody cares if I show up on their doorstep with a nose ring or a tattoo arm sleeve. I'm dead. I don't get stage fright or worry if my hair is combed or any of that nonsense." 

"You are a come-as-you-are spirit."

"Exactly.  What happens if contact centers start hiring agents on the basis of looks instead of native talent?"

"You think contact centers are going to hire prettier people?," I said skeptically

"Why not? If you went to Victoria's Secret, would you want to talk to a 50 year old overweight guy via video chat? Or a young  model?" 
"Now, that's a bit of a stretch," I protested."And I don't go to the Victora's Secret website, anyway."

The ghost shook his head. "It's a short step from corporate polo shirts and mandatory grooming standards for agents to better looking employees." 

With that, the Ghost of Technology Past disappeared.  I blinked my eyes.  Still,  I wonder if the conversation had really taken place or if it was just a bad dream.

 



Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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