In praise of WebRTC

Avaya, which claims to be the leading supplier of call centre systems, has just released software that turns a Chromebook into a fully functioning contact centre agent's terminal.

What grabbed the headlines was Avaya's announcement that it is "working with Google on innovative contact centre solutions for businesses," but the real star of the show is the software underpinning the application: a component of HTML5 known as WebRTC, for Web Real Time Communications.

It enables browsers to support real time voice, video and data communications and allowing the browser on a Chromebook to access all the features of a contact centre is just one of its talents. It has lots of great features for end users.

With WebRTC you don’t need browser plug-ins or dedicated applications like Skype to set up a voice or video call over the Internet.

So long as both parties have devices running browsers that support WebRTC and that are otherwise equipped for voice and video communication, they will be able to have voice or video chat.

WebRTC is already being used by one organisation in Australia, - that provides health advice to members of the public - to enable clients to have video and audio chats with operators.

For enterprise applications like the contact centre agent it has some other useful features. All the traffic: voice, data and video are encrypted and, unlike service such as Skype, once a call has been set up all the traffic is direct between the two browsers, so you don't need to install virtual private network client software on user devices to maintain security.

WebRTC has its detractors, but those in favour flag it as a game changer. Writing in May 2013, Laurent Philonenko, vice president and chief technology officer of Cisco's Collaboration Technology Group, said: “WebRTC is the single largest technology change that is happening to the web today and will unleash a new wave of communications innovations; it will likely impact you whether you are a technologist, marketer, or user. ... Just as VoIP changed the way we communicate, WebRTC has the potential to change how we communicate and collaborate. Bringing-real time communications to the web is a sea change.”

And there's more. WebRTC has recently been touted to oust Facebook and Twitter as a social media connection between customers and organisations. Writing on WebRTC World, Laurence Chandler, marketing manager of Drum, a UK based telecoms application developer, said: "WebRTC has the capability and will begin to overthrow the likes of Facebook and Twitter in being the main connection between organisations and their customers."

He predicts that the relevance of social media will begin to decline and the demand for instant browser-to-browser communication will quickly rise.

"WebRTC functionality provides a unique and open environment for all customers to instantly communicate with organisations to either complete purchases or have queries resolved. Customers are not required to be a social media user and will not be required to download flash or additional software to enter a WebRTC chat environment."

About Next Telecom

Next Telecom is Australia's premier service provider of IP Telephony, data and business solutions with senior management that are pioneers in the telecommunications industry.

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