Sajeel Hussain, chief marketing officer of CaféX Communications, is a straight shooter. As he recently wrote for INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine, WebRTC may not be the panacea some project it to be. But he does believe that this technology provides a solid foundation for many innovative solutions proven to have a substantial positive impact on businesses. Augmenting WebRTC technology to bypass limitations associated with browser support, firewall traversal, multi-party calling and enterprise policy conflicts, he wrote, are the first steps to broad adoption and success of real-time web solutions.
Given the Real Time Web Solutions conference is next week, we thought it would be a good time to circle back with Hussain for more. Here is an excerpt of that conversation.
Do you see Real Time in applications as a major differentiator in 2017?
RTC has certainly moved past the ‘interesting new technology’ stage and has already enabled significant impacts on business efficiency and customer engagements. We have seen this first hand in our deployments with customers ranging from start-ups in the legal field to global banking and insurance corporations. As an element of an integrated solution that delivers value and immediacy to particular applications and use cases, RTC will continue to provide differentiation in many different markets for the foreseeable future.
What are the values that Real Time brings to applications?
Responsiveness to customer expectations and needs are fundamental business goals that are enhanced with RTC. In addition, RTC and real-time engagement continue to accelerate processes and workflows, strengthen teaming, reduce costs and improve productivity. Applications for real time also include internal and external collaboration to facilitate efficiency and productivity. For customers, real time goes far beyond being fast, and is quickly entering the territory of aligning with what works best. It’s an idea that we call optichannel. RTC is a critical element in enabling a broad range of channels, but the exponential benefits will be realized when providers can push or suggest the right channel for the task at hand with each customer.
Do you think mobile apps will get Real Time first?
They’re already here. CaféX has been lighting up mobile apps with real-time engagement since 2014. These are native OS apps, not browser-based functions, but for those that want to get into the mobile space, the tools are already available. In terms of RTC adoption, we are seeing a broad mix, but web-based applications are currently taking the lead in most. One advantage for mobile is that browser compatibility is less of an issue than with web communications, so there is little standing in the way of deployment. This is borne out by American Express’s iPad video chat solution that was launched in 2015 – a native app that simply skipped over the browser and delivered in-app real-time video with a single tap.
What vertical applications are early opportunities for the Real-Time Web?
Customer service is the first application that many are pursuing. This is particularly true in the financial and insurance sectors where there is intense competition for customers and a heavy emphasis on investing in the customer experience. Fast followers in adopting real time are in retail and health care markets – for both competitive and productivity reasons. However, collaboration and workgroup interaction are areas where RTC can have powerful and immediate impacts on productivity, training and operational efficiency. As a tool, RTC has nearly unlimited potential to change business flows, communications paradigms as well as improve customer engagement. This is one of the reasons that CaféX has opened up its SDKs and API through its Kickstart program. Through this offering, enterprises of every size can implement omnichannel capabilities without the need to commit vast amounts of money and skilled resources to the project. Through Kickstart, the application of RTC is only limited by the business drivers and innovative mindsets of the CaféX users.
What do you see as the biggest barrier(s) to the Real-Time Web today?
Key hurdles that must be overcome include standardization and interworking, ubiquitous and consistent browser support, lack of a compelling business case and user reluctance. As adoption continues to ramp up, case studies will emerge to show the tangible cost savings and business benefits, thereby mitigating the business barriers. But beyond the technical issues – which will be worked out by the industry – the biggest challenge is identifying a compelling business case and corresponding metrics to support an implementation. Once more case studies are presented to the market, these natural barriers should dissipate.
Do you think video is a game changer in your application?
Video is a powerful enhancer to other elements of the collaboration toolset such as voice, co-browsing and document sharing. This is particularly the case in high-value transactions where quickly building trust is paramount. Examples of these cases include investor to financial advisor and clinician to patient. Video is less important in less personal interactions such as web assistance for e-commerce.
Our Chime platform is all about making it easier to engage in the most appropriate mode(s) of collaboration, whether it is voice, co-browsing, document sharing or video. With Chime, any user on any platform is one click away from a seamless collaboration session – with real-time video if desired.
What factors should an applications company look for in Real time Web partners?
Flexibility and availability of SDKs and APIs are key factors in enabling application designers to apply innovation and technology to address real-world needs. In addition, companies such as CaféX that have field-proven integrations with multiple enterprise platforms, long-term experience in working with WebRTC and other real-time technologies, and successful deployments in multiple industries throughout the world, provide developers with a tremendous head-start in creating competitive solutions.
Edited by Alicia Young