Here’s a scene from a movie that plays every day in business:
Scene 1 – Cut to a typical day in the office, Bob has been invited by the salesperson to join a conference with video and web collaboration to discuss his needs. The call starts on the hour, and Bob clicks on the invite URL just in time….to get the message, “Welcome to big cumbersome conferencing, please download our client now”.
Scene 2 – After 10 minutes of trying to download the client, get past firewall blockers and the fact that the client uses two plug-ins that his company does not allow, Bob picks up the phone and dials into the conference.
Scene 3 – Bob decides to buy from the other guys, who used WebRTC without a plug-in and were able to show how their product fit into his needs.
We all struggle with the productivity benefits of UC, and ease of use is a major inhibitor to adoption, especially when one of the parties is not using the defined tools in the defined way. Downloads and plug-ins are just part of the problem, It is exacerbated as the process is challenging and the usage drops, reducing the productivity values. Perhaps this is why GoToMeeting has quietly included WebRTC as part of the arsenal.
Another example is in conferencing. I use two conferencing services, Uberconference and ZipDX (News - Alert). Both have advantages, but there is one big difference: ZipDX only uses SIP as a soft client. To use IP and get HD, ZipDX requires you to download a client, install it, and then you can avoid using the PSTN. Uberconference (News - Alert) allows you to join a conference from your browser using WebRTC with one click, and you get HD audio in the bargain.
The result is that I do almost all of my Uberconference meetings using WebRTC and use the phone for ZipDX. While this does not impact productivity per see, the fact that Uberconference includes document sharing (automatically though the Chrome utilities) is a major productivity gain.
All of this got me to thinking: Could WebRTC be the missing link in UC? The reality is that most external UC sessions often devolve into using the PSTN, with all of the accompanying barriers and issues. But with WebRTC, the use case is easy, and it immediately gets meetings going faster, and improves the media quality, and can provide tools that improve the meeting effectiveness. The answer is that WebRTC can improve what is there. It is clear that some big players see this, as Cisco Spark and Unify (News - Alert) Circuit, two products focused on improving productivity, are both WebRTC based. In both cases, they are thinking beyond the call to the process, the context, and the information of the interaction.
However, the bigger impact of WebRTC may not be in the productivity of individuals and meetings, it may be in the ability to integrate communications into business processes. Yes, it’s the old communications-enabled business processes argument. As an industry, we have known that the current version of UC is primarily for knowledge workers versus the larger communities of information and services workers.
The reality is that information and service workers do not generally collaborate independently; they do it as part of a formal business process. The value of CEBP can be huge and dwarf the benefits of UC for knowledge workers. For example, at Company A, 5 percent of 200 processes result in an error that takes someone two hours to resolve every day. The result is that 20 hours are spent each day resolving the issues with the process. If communications could reduce the time to resolution to 30 minutes for 50 percent of the issues, the result is saving 15 hours per day. If this is a 24/7 operation, that results in a savings of 5,475 hours, or about two headcount. Assuming the employee cost with burden is $100,000 per year, that one process saves about $200,000 per year – through productivity.
The key is that WebRTC enables this kind of process to be done much more easily. Instead of having to integrate the app with the phone system, the communications can be added using WebRTC directly in the app. This combination of ease of implementation, ease of use, and focus on delivered value may change business dramatically over the next 5 years – and it is probably the reason that many WebRTC adopters do not want to talk about what they are doing, as they see it as a strategic competitive advantage. If you are not looking at how to use WebRTC to improve your collaboration or productivity, now may be the time.
Edited by Maurice Nagle