One of the terms you should get used to hearing a lot in 2013 is WebRTC. Don’t let the techie TLA (that’s Three Letter Acronym) scare you — RTC means simply real-time communications, primarily in the form of audio and video.
But we’re already doing a lot of that right now, right? Web apps like Google Voice, TinyChat, TokBox, Facebook Messenger, etc. each have their user base. However, like a lot of emerging technologies, the challenge has been having it work consistently across multiple platforms.
First, a brief background. Not surprisingly WebRTC was started by Google. And just like many other projects initiated by Google, it aims to open up the technology and bring it to the masses. Google has kept Chrome in the forefront of WebRTC adoption. Mozilla Firefox and Opera have been the other browsers that’s committed to WebRTC and have partially implemented it in their latest releases. Unfortunately, WebRTC is not yet a standard… Proposals have been submitted to W3C and IETF for feedback, and major tech companies like Google and Microsoft are backing the effort. But when have these tech giants ever agreed on anything upfront?
Just yesterday Microsoft published a demo of a browser-based video session between a Mac user on Google Chrome and a Windows IE 10 user. The Redmond Giant is calling its implementation CU-RTC-Web. You know, just to distinguish itself from WebRTC which is closely associated with Google Chrome. And what about Apple? Not a peep so far from Cupertino about WebRTC. (Which is kind of ironic considering how much Steve Jobs believed in Web apps when the first ever iPhone was introduced.)
So… yes, it’s quite a mess in the WebRTC standardization front. Keep an eye on more developments…
But no matter, let’s dream about the possibilities because it’s only a matter of time when WebRTC comes to the masses.
Imagine the customer speaking with a contact center agent just using the browser. No need to dig up that toll-free number or guess the company’s Twitter handle. Get ready for a truly multimedia, multichannel contact center with just Web technologies.
Also, what’s the least sexy part in your whole contact center operation? The desktop! Seriously, cut your agents some slack if they’ve got to work with three different desktop applications simultaneously, copying and pasting data back and forth, and deal with latency from the backend. Yes, I will blame you and/or IT for not thinking about streamlining the desktop workflow. (Agents are users too, and there’s no excuse for poor UI and UX.) With WebRTC your developers ought to be able to do more fancy stuff within the browser, including tidying up those desktop applications… Web-based CRM apps can be easily enhanced to include WebRTC features for communicating with customers, vendors, and suppliers.
Your company’s online community can evolve into a very interactive forum of moderators and users communicating with each other ad hoc, in real-time. Sounds like fun, and a great opportunity to create more loyal customers.
…and those are just some ideas in the customer service context. Think about how it could disrupt the audio and video conferencing business too. I cannot wait.