Imagine a situation where you're trying to buy an item from an online retailer like Amazon. You'd like to speak with an agent and ask a few questions about the product. By clicking one button, you're connected with the agent and are able to have a real-time, one-on-one voice conversation. Gone are the days where that kind of collaboration required many complex systems behind the scenes. Now only minimal back-end software is required to complete this task. At least, that's the vision of WebRTC.
WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is an industry standard for communications utilized to provide voice, video, and other methods of collaboration. Instead of requiring a PBX or centralized control, WebRTC allows for point-to-point communications.
There are a few companies out there already utilizing the features of WebRTC. Twilio is one of the best known examples of a company that leverages WebRTC for phone number assignment and browser-based communication. From an enterprise perspective, however, contact centers will be one of the first places where users will see WebRTC being implemented.
My recent shopping experience at Sears.com is a prime example of how WebRTC can be implemented on an enterprise level. I was presented with the option to chat with a live representative while I was looking for a lawnmower part. Even though we made some progress using the text-based chat, I preferred to use the 'click to talk' button so we could have a voice conversation. I was able to speak one-on-one with a representative right from the website without having to pick up a landline or mobile device.
Although I do not have knowledge of the specific systems on the back-end for Sears.com, their real-time voice communication is a concept that can be driven through WebRTC. The standard allows multiple channels of communication without the necessity for multiple devices, which is ideal for this type of use case. If you haven't already seen the proliferation of WebRTC in enterprise, you will.
According to Gartner, by 2019 WebRTC will be utilized for 15% of enterprise voice and video communications. This metric currently sits at less than 1% today. A jump from 1% to 15% is a fairly massive leap in such a short time period. In all likelihood, that momentum will continue to increase and an even greater percentage of enterprise communication will use this standard.
The key driver of the widespread adoption of WebRTC is support from major vendors. For example, Microsoft Spartan, the successor to Internet Explorer slated for release with Windows 10, includes native support for WebRTC. Some of the developer platforms for Skype for Business will also include support for WebRTC communications.
In terms of infrastructure requirements, we're seeing session border controllers like Genband, Sonus, and AudioCodes starting to enable WebRTC. We're also seeing the likes of Avaya, Cisco, and Microsoft beginning to embrace the standard. Because some centralized equipment is still utilized, WebRTC's original vision of simple click point-to-point communication without the need for an intermediary may not be completely fulfilled. However, a software upgrade on already existing equipment will enable WebRTC-based communication within a typical environment.
We're already witnessing real-world use cases for WebRTC that improve communication and collaboration. The benefit of adopting this emerging standard is an easier, more intuitive multi-channel tool to facilitate real-time communication without all the back-end IT requirements.
Author: Eric Bauer, Head of Product Marketing