WebRTC: The Next Wave Of Innovation In Customer Engagement

In the age of digitally empowered customers, advancements in the ubiquitous, multimedia web collaboration space will gain momentum, riding on the developments in web real-time communication (WebRTC) technology. While still nascent in Asia Pacific, according to WebRTC Stats, as of March 2013 more than 11% of the video calls in Asia Pacific were made leveraging the technology.

The central theme of the WebRTC project is to enable interconnectivity between web browsers for real-time communications via a JavaScript API (application programming interface). It aims to achieve interoperability on two distinct levels:

  • At the platform level to eradicate the need for codec download to establish the connection between different web browsers, as is the case today.
  • At the application level to allow multimedia sessions to run simultaneously on the same connection.

So far, Google, Mozilla, and Opera support WebRTC functionality in their browsers and have opened up to developers for application engineering. By doing away with the need for plugins, rich multimedia communication can be brought closer to the masses, thus increasing the overall adoption of web-based customer interaction solutions. WebRTC will enable organizations to extend video capabilities seamlessly to their customer engagement process and reduce the costs associated with dedicated video solutions and services, while ensuring a rich communication experience and increasing the overall efficiency of the interaction.

What it means for infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals

The growing emphasis on customer engagement and service in the age of the customer will drive organizations toward the adoption of WebRTC. I&O professionals must diligently carve out an implementation plan that integrates WebRTC capabilities with their existing communication infrastructure. While preparing for deployment, I recommend considering the following:

  • Intelligently planning the allocation of workloads to WebRTC-supported tools. While organizations can offer richer customer communication experiences by leveraging WebRTC-based capabilities, over-reliance on these capabilities could also result in challenges such as low media quality during high-traffic periods and slower session transfers between departments. Hence, it is imperative to assign specific workloads to WebRTC-based solutions — those workloads where multimedia capabilities translate into a distinct improvement in efficiency and customer experience, such as troubleshooting (via a video or screen-sharing aid) in the technology domain and remote diagnoses in the healthcare industry.
  • Increasing your focus on security and identity management. The greater usage of browser-based interfaces will make organizations more prone to security threats. I&O pros must define security policies to be implemented on three distinct levels:
    • Authenticating the identity of the other party
    • Preventing the exposure of personal identity through IP address tracking
    • Restricting media/content duplication to prevent its potential theft

With the two top browser vendors supporting the initiative and many others expected to follow suit, WebRTC adoption is sure to grow strongly in the next two to three years. While its success in the customer engagement space is certain, organizations must aim to exploit the true potential of the WebRTC platform by designing applications for specific business tasks that increase process efficiency and enhance customer collaboration.