Real Time Communications Featured Article

All Service Providers Can Benefit from WebRTC

April 30, 2015

WebRTC's numbers are already staggering -  with more than a billion browsers on desktops and mobile devices.  This week, Microsoft will put out a date certain for Windows 10 and its WebRTC-supporting Spartan browser, continuing to add to numbers that are expected to add up to multiples of billions of devices capable of supporting WebRTC.  Facebook has gone WebRTC in a big way for its messenger application. Opportunities for services providers -- wired and wireless -- are plentiful.

Nearly everyone agrees that the future of Unified Communications goes through WebRTC, with affordable, lower-cost tools to add voice and video to everything from in-house communications tools to customer-facing websites and call centers.  The first opportunity for WebRTC is the "eat your own dog food" approach (although I am partial to "drinking your own champagne") by incorporating it into business call center operations. 

Service providers can see immediate benefits from a WebRTC-powered contact center through making customer communications more efficient and building a high-touch style interface between clients and customers. Customers and call center agents can also move immediately between IM, voice, and video communications on the desktop, phone, or tablet, enabling a call center agent to immediately "see" a problem with a CPE device through a customer's camera, be it a service provider supplied setup box or TV set getting fuzzy video.  Video provides an immediate picture of device status independent of network monitoring tools and customers can be walked through corrections with the customer agent observing in real time rather than waiting for a phone to be set down and picked back up after each step.

via Shutterstock

Amazon's Mayday button provides one-way video so customers can actually "see" the call center agent.  Customers actually get to see the agent as a human being, rather than a faceless voice over the phone.  Service providers can use live WebRTC video between customer and call center to build a more intimate relationship between participants, reducing the stress of the interaction and providing a more personal experience. If a customer has a problem, it is better to work out the problem with a "someone " they can see as well as hear.

Many want to push WebRTC as a mobile operator tool, since it is accessible from Apple iOS and Google Android, but the tools are generic. A smartphone, a WiFi-enabled tablet,  and laptop all can provide the same sort of call center experience for both mobile and wireline operator.   Service providers shouldn't worry about mobile vs. wireline, but know that the customer will expect to reach them with a real time communications experience regardless of what device they choose.  The customer is choosing the device and it is up to the service provider to be prepared to make the most of whatever device is presented by using WebRTC as the common, open-standards way to do voice, video, and information sharing between clients.

Internal use of WebRTC is only the starting point, with  a wide world of business opportunities.  Enterprises will want the same enhanced call center experience offered by service providers, with the latter able to provide it as a turn-key white labeled cloud offering as well as an a la carte WebRTC service offering that businesses can incorporate into existing call center infrastructure and other applications. Cloud-based call center offerings are already growing as a supplement to baseline hosted telephony, so it's no big stretch to see WebRTC as the next necessary feature set to be rolled into the call center.

WebRTC as a Service (WaaS) enables any business of any size to quickly incorporate WebRTC features into any website for any application.  Hospitals can build Connected Health applications where doctors can conduct virtual housecalls with patients, as Kaiser Permanente already offers today. Field service businesses can build real-time video into existing applications for technicians to provide a "view" into onsite problems back to a subject matter expert, a feature SAP has built into its software using GENBAND's Kandy platform.

Service providers have numerous opportunities to apply WebRTC both to internal processes and to generate new business opportunities and features with existing cloud offerings.  With WebRTC's extremely low cost of entry and quick development time, the only question is how soon a carrier can get a demonstration project fielded.

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