For about five years running, Temasys continues to wave the WebRTC flag proudly. Real time communications can today be easily integrated into apps of all types, creating interesting and innovative use cases, which is also driving adoption of this burgeoning technology. Temasys technology is a key cog in the wheel of WebRTC, and the industry pioneer will be joining the mass of communications aficionados at the upcoming ITEXPO.
Temasys Chief Marketing Officer Chip Wilcox is a true WebRTC mover and shaker, and will take part in three panels over the three days of ITEXPO. On Wed., Feb.8 he will take part in, “Creating Contextual Experiences by Embedding Voice and Messaging into Apps” followed by “Expanding WebRTC Capabilities Beyond the Typical Use Cases” on Thursday and on Friday Feb. 10, “The Embedded Communications Revolution: How WebRTC will Change Everything.”
Today however, Wilcox is all yours, as he sat down with Webrtcworld to talk Embedded Real-Time Communications (ERTC), the future of communications applications, and getting his feet wet at his first ITEXPO.
The complete interview is below:
TMC: How have technology changes over the past 12 months helped businesses grow?
Chip Wilcox: We seem to have reached a tipping point of sorts with the market. Throughout 2015 and most of 2016 we began to see a strong set of macro trends that significantly impacted adoption of what we call Embedded Real-Time Communication (ERTC).
One is digital transformation and the fact that more and more businesses are building applications that take on a major role in helping to engage existing and potential customers.
The second is that embedding real-time communication features within these apps has proven to be a great way to increase customer engagement. Customers and businesses have realized that after years of enduring frustrating workflows and disjointed communications experiences, bringing communication into the context of a process or workflow, inside an application (without having to switch devices, download an app, make a separate phone call, use Skype or WhatsApp) really would be a massive improvement. Lastly, WebRTC, and companies like Temasys have made these capabilities far more accessible and reliable in ways that make deployment fast, scalable, and ongoing management extremely cost effective.
TMC: What does the term Collaboration mean to your business?
Internally, we happen to be a widely dispersed team with a presence in three countries. We use the same tools that our customers do to collaborate and deliver products and services to our customers. In another sense, we approach working with our customers as a collaboration.
CW: Our team comes from different verticals and diverse backgrounds. We have often shared the same trials and tribulations that our customers have, and we want to help them build excellent solutions that incorporate our technology and outperform everyone else. In that sense, collaboration means putting yourself on the line for your team and for your customers, every day, and trusting that they’ll do the same thing for you.
TMC: What elements of Unified Communications are most useful for your company?
CW: We use every feature any Unified Comms app can bring to market, every day. Video, audio, chat messaging, remote collaboration using screen sharing and document editing. I think we would be completely lost without both chat and real-time communication capabilities. Email is something I am starting to use more as a knowledge base and to document history. By the time I receive an email on a topic I have likely already discussed the situation over HipChat, WhatsApp, GetARoom.io, Zoom.us, or ten other tools in real-time. It’s the ability to communicate in real-time with people all over the world, coupled with a very mobile workforce, that makes a big difference. We get to be a 24x7 company even though we’re a fairly small team, as a result.
TMC: Are you using messaging technologies to communicate with your customers? How, or why not?
CW: We use a mixture of tools and channels. We have live chat on our website during most business hours. We frequently take part in video and audio conferences using web-based services when we’re helping frame solutions and working through projects with customers. Because our team is split between Asia, the US and Canada, using messaging and UC applications to interact with customers is a necessity.
TMC: Are you leveraging big data/analytics to operate more efficiently?
CW: Yes. We are investing a lot in reporting and analytics across a number of areas. Whether it’s customer account-related reporting or marketing analytics, we’re doing more with tools and less manual number crunching. Data-driven decision-making is key. We have to be able to develop insights quickly, to drive focus on the things that matter most to our customers, our team, and to help us get to execution as quickly as possible.
TMC: How can artificial intelligence best be used in business applications?
CW: We use AI to power some internal tools, including a sales and support customer “intelligence and configuration” bot. It helps non-engineering team members solve simple technical support and account information inquiries without leaving our standard chat tools.
And then there are other larger trends like self-driving cars and beer delivery trucks. My current favorite example of great use of AI is in the healthcare delivery space, where you have Babylon (UK) building a medical AI that actually diagnoses illnesses more accurately than human doctors. That’s extremely powerful, and in some ways a little scary, because it highlights that humans are fallible and make mistakes, but also because machines and AI’s are… artificial. I would not expect Babylon’s AI to have a fantastic bedside manner, or to express empathy and to have a human patient accept it as genuine.
In this context I think we need to learn to trust good AI’s decision-making abilities from a rational perspective, and keep in mind that it’s highly unlikely that an AI will ever completely replace human beings in any business process or workflow where there is a need for even superficial emotional intelligence, empathy, compassion, or other emotions and skills that involve relating to people.
TMC: Content marketing has become a hot topic recently. Have you defined a content marketing strategy and how has it helped you build your business?
CW: Yes, we have. We have embarked on this journey over the last few months and the goal is to help build our presence and relevance online, and to drive customer acquisition. It has been helpful to us in areas of discovery by new customers and in articulating what’s being delivered to customers who use the Temasys embedded real-time communications platform.
TMC: How will augmented/virtual reality by used in business environments?
CW: Personally, I’ve always loved the idea of having a “heads-up display” for life, and I was very disappointed that Google Glass didn’t evolve faster and become really useful for mere mortals. Now I watch my kids play Pokemon Go and hope that this is not the future of Augmented Reality for humans. What Nintendo did accomplish, though, is to show everyone an AR app that actually works and generates revenue. In my humble opinion it is still a bit faddish, but the idea that you can overlay the physical world with any kind of information you want in a video feed is really exciting. In fact, this is the kind of application that Temasys really looks forward to supporting with our technology, and we’re already seeing a little bit of that in some of our customers’ use cases.
TMC: How have the growing number of high-visibility security breaches impacted your outlook on security? Which breach is of greatest concern?
CW: We have built our products in such a way that we’re very comfortable with security and privacy of our customers’ data and their customers’ data. We are often asked about things like HIPAA compliance and we have addressed all of these requirements and more with the way we’ve implemented our solutions. Still we are always reminded that while you can’t plan for everything, you have to be prepared for anything.
TMC: Have you increased your investment in security technology in the past year? Are you likely to increase your security spend in the next year? Why or why not?
CW: We will need to see what comes our way but as a growing business and as we expand our team it’s quite likely this will drive some spending in this area. Also, we need to rely on technology partners to help meet security requirements. If something happens to one of them and that impacts us, or our customers, then we’ll also need to respond appropriately.
TMC: To what extent are you leveraging APIs to enhance business opportunities?
CW: API’s are a core part of the new business economy and our business is “All About the API”, so there is really nothing else but this going on in terms of enhancing our business opportunities. It is our business opportunity. :)
TMC: What percentage of your workforce would you consider mobile? What technology decisions have you made as a result of your mobile workforce, to ensure they have the tools they need to remain productive?
CW: 100%. Our employees can theoretically work from anywhere. We use multi-factor authentication services for critical system access, and only in some cases do we lock access to systems down to a specific geographic location. And even then, if someone needs access from a different location it’s very easy for us to manage it.
TMC: To what extent are you using cloud services in your daily business processes?
Again, the answer is nearly 100%.
TMC: Has your use of cloud-based resources increased over the past year? Do you expect to make more use of cloud computing in the coming year? Please elaborate.
CW: Our usage and associated costs allocated to cloud-based resources will increase as we continue to scale up our business. We started out using the cloud to deploy our product(s) in 2014, and we haven’t looked back since. Even when customers ask about on-premise deployments, we find they’re really asking about private cloud deployment capabilities, rather than wanting to download and install software on physical hardware or to a bespoke infrastructure. I’m aware that there are still some businesses that believe you have to do this to ensure “Quality of Service” and security. We respectfully disagree and we see plenty of new opportunities to prove that the cloud is the way to go.
TMC: How are you handling shadow IT in your business?
CW: Well, we’re still small enough that this isn’t a huge concern for us. We are a communication company and at our core, and we focus on driving innovation *and* collaboration within the team. There’s not a lot of bureaucracy or other factors that usually motivate people to get things done outside of normal channels. We also control our product and information delivery systems very tightly. Ultimately nothing gets built into our products or gets used to run our business that isn’t owned with appropriate accountability.
TMC: How has the growth in the managed services market impacted your business?
CW: We are essentially providing managed services for real-time communications, and this has proven to be very positive in terms of the impact on our business. Our customers realize that they don’t need to invest in a large, expensive, specialised team to help them offer video, audio, and real-time communications services. They can use our APIs and SDKs, and we handle the difficult aspects of managing the supporting infrastructure and we do it at a fraction of the cost they might otherwise have to pay. It’s a win-win-win-win-win.
TMC: Is the cloud / MSP model a realistic one for reliable IT security?
CW: This isn’t something that has landed on our radar yet.
TMC: What are your thoughts on containerization technology as an alternative to traditional virtualization?
CW: We use these technologies already, today. It’s a game changer in terms of cloud-based development, build and deployment mechanisms for microservices. At the same time it’s not a panacea for everything and because we do most of this on top of AWS the “closer to the metal” factor doesn’t really exist.
TMC: What emerging technology has the potential to have a disruptive impact on businesses in the coming years?
CW: Nat? Sherwin? A few things we believe: Access to more and cheaper bandwidth, globally. Mobile battery technology. This is likely the next big disruptor because for mobile devices we’ve reached the limits of current mass market tech. We are also tracking developments in low-power, long-range data networking. We see this being a very big driver for the IoT.
TMC: How has your business’ product development evolved over the past year as a result of emerging technologies?
CW: We keep building out new features and adding capabilities to our product. We started working with the perfect example of an emerging technology, WebRTC, three years ago. The fact that it’s now pretty mature is something we fully appreciate and leverage. We’re more concerned about Google and Apple making changes to their web browsers and mobile operating systems, and breaking things that were working just fine. That isn’t always about evolution.
TMC: Are channel partners keeping up with the latest trends and developments? Is more education needed and how can they better leverage the latest technologies to grow?
CW: We don’t rely on a significant number of channel partners to go-to-market. However, we continue to work on driving education and awareness of embedded real-time communication capabilities (and Temasys) across a wide range of audiences. The concept of channel is like everything else these days. It’s being disintermediated by more direct engagement with the decisionmakers. Our channel efforts start with the developers. They are the channel. That’s why Temasys is an active participants in hackathons put on by TadHack, which happen around the globe and why we are also aligned so closely with Amazon, and their annual Re:Invent conference. The second channel is our customers themselves, as they are telling our story by trumpeting how what we are providing them. This is leading to expanded use by each of them, and more new customers coming onto our platform each month.
TMC: What is your session at ITEXPO about and who should plan on attending? Why should this be a must-attend session for the week?
CW: The three panels I’m taking part in cover a wide range of topics. Each panel also has executives from different facets of the Internet ecosystem that surrounds communications. Having been on some panels which Andy Abramson has moderated before, I know they will be anything but boring, as he doesn’t shy away from having the participants mix it up on stage to get to the heart of what’s really going on with a particular topic. This is a lot of fun for us, and we try to make it entertaining for the audience, as well.
TMC: What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO 2017?
CW: This will be our first trip to ITExpo. It’s a slightly different kind of conference than we’re used to attending, in that it’s broader and more diverse in terms of the technologies addressed. I’m looking forward to having a chance to dig deeper into the telecom marketplace, meet some new people, speak and support a couple of panels, and of course to network and talk about Temasys, a lot.
Every year, ITEXPO pulls together a stable of industry thoroughbreds to provide the industry’s pulse to attendees. If you haven’t registered yet there’s still time. Wilcox and the Temasys team will be manning booth #737, stop by and say hi!
I’ll see you Fort Lauderdale!
Edited by Stefania Viscusi