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Is WebRTC the Death of the Dedicated UC Client?

April 24, 2015

Is unified communications dying just as it is catching fire?

This is the intriguing question that Greg Zweig recently posed at UC EXPO in London earlier this week. Zweig, the director of solutions marketing at GENBAND, gave a talk this past Wednesday at the conference about using the cloud and WebRTC to combine Lync and embedded communications.

It is time to reconsider the traditional UC paradigm that requires dedicated clients now that WebRTC and other cloud technologies are making it easy to embed communications in all aspects of our work environment, argued Zweig.

Although Lync and similar UC clients have become popular desktop tools that can’t be ignored, WebRTC is changing the nature of UC and moving it away from dedicated clients and toward anywhere, any-time access.

“I expect to see a drive to embed communications into traditional business applications as well change the way users access traditional UC services, including Microsoft Lync,” Zweig wrote in a blog post on the topic prior to UC Expo.

via Shutterstock

“I’m not suggesting the world will change overnight,” he wrote, “but I do believe dedicated UC Clients will become less prevalent as users’ expectations change. We already see consumer apps adding multimedia communications so it is no surprise that SaaS applications from Salesforce, SAP, Accellion, etc are doing the same for business customers.”

The cost of dedicated and bespoke apps just is not cost-effective, and WebRTC offers a much simpler, easier—and cheaper—experience.

Despite the value of WebRTC, however, Zweig does not think WebRTC is a panacea that can solve all problems.

At the end of the day it is simply an enabler, a tool to simplify access to communication assets, he stressed.

“Developers and users are rapidly appreciating the ability to ‘mash-up’ CRM, e-mail, SMS or other data so users can see more than a contact’s caller ID or name,” and WebRTC enables that. But its value lies in connecting various platforms, not in being a focal technology itself.

Lync still will have its place—as its growing user base shows.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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