WebRTC World Feature Article

May 13, 2013

Many Cloud-based Contact Center Vendors Not Yet Ready for WebRTC

While interest rises in the WebRTC standard and many people write about its potential in social media, there has been more confusion – and a little panic – about what it means for the call center industry.

WebRTC is the standard behind a free, open project designed to allow high-quality, real-time communication applications to be developed in the browser via simple Java APIs and HTML5. What it essentially means is that you can easily engage in video or audio communications with people all over the world as easily as clicking on a link. From a social media perspective, it will enable cross-platform and cross-browser video and audio communications with far less fuss and preparation than it does now.

It’s easy to see the opportunities it presents in the contact center. Customers using WebRTC will essentially blur the line between voice and Web communications. WebRTC will usher in new users of technologies such as Web chat combined with voice, click-to-chat and even video calling. The typical customer today browses a company Web site and – if he or she wishes to speak with an agent about a product or service – must dial in to a toll-free number. He or she must then direct the agent who answers to the Web page in question so both parties are looking at the same page. But WebRTC will entirely change the game because it will essentially sync the voice or video call and the customer’s browsing session.

According to a recent blog post from cloud-based contact center solutions provider EchoPass, however, most contact centers aren’t yet ready to handle WebRTC communications.

“Most cloud-based contact centers may not yet have proper infrastructure in place today to support WebRTC interactions,” blogged Echopass’ Alain Mowad in Part 2 of a post about the potential of the standard. “Beyond the bandwidth and latency concerns of carrying both voice and video over IP, endpoint devices typically used by agents (regardless whether they use soft phone clients or physical desktop phones) may not be compatible with WebRTC protocol. Many handset phone providers and soft client vendors have WebRTC as a requirement on their roadmaps for the near future, which could require software and hardware updates.”

In Part 1 of his blog, Mowad notes that current technology requires initiating multiple calls and working through the unreliable process of re-associating the call with the context data, an inconvenient process, particularly if the device being used doesn’t support calls. WebRTC will essentially eliminate the challenges of plugins, making separate calls and re-associating the call with the context data.

While many contact center vendors are building bridges or workarounds to allow use of WebRTC, few have built it into their core products as a native feature. Mowad notes that there are likely to be early movers in WebRTC, and they will forge the path for the other companies that come after. The real question with WebRTC, he notes, is not why or how, but when?

Edited by Alisen Downey


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