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December 10, 2013

The WebRTC Dilemma for Enterprises

There is a lot of hype surrounding WebRTC, and depending on what camp you are on it is either the most innovative and disruptive communications solution to come in a long time or just another application supported by some of the biggest players in the industry. Dr. E. Brent Kelly, Vice President & Principal Analyst at Constellation Research and President of KelCor Inc., makes a convincing argument that WebRTC indeed is a disruptive technology, and not hype. Based on Dr. Clayton M. Christensen's thesis of sustaining technology and disruptive technology, he concluded it is a disruptive technology.

This is because a) to use the products or service, can people begin using it in more convenient context? The answer is a definite yes, and b) is the innovation disruptive to all of the significant incumbent firms in the industry? If it appears to be sustaining to one or more significant players in the industry, then the odds will be stacked in that firm's favor, and the entrant is unlikely to win. As Dr. Kelly said, it disrupts everyone including PBX firms, videos firms and web conferencing firms.

Being a disruptive technology doesn't mean it will be readily accepted by the establishment. When a disrupting technology is first introduced, the low end market generally accepts the technology and with further development the high end eventually consents. And that is where we are currently as enterprises are caught in a dilemma of whether they should accept a technology that is clearly changing the way everyone will be communicating once the bickering of which standard to adopt stops.

The video codec spat between H.264 and VP8 or more likely H.265 and VP9, always looks like it is coming to an end, but something always comes up that delays the adoption even further. This uncertainty is definitely a concern for enterprises as they will greatly depend on video to interact with their customers, employees and partners.

The standardization process in the tech industry is famous or infamous for their indecision, and they are not letting anyone down on that front, and as usual consumers and vendors are the losers. Close to 60 percent of the browser market supports the WebRTC initiative which includes Google, Mozilla and Opera, with Microsoft in the process of implementing the technology to Internet Explorer and Apple waiting for a standard protocol to be adopted.

Enterprises are taking their time in making the decision about WebRTC, but the technology is already impacting their ecosystem by offering simpler and cheaper real-time communications options.

So what can this technology offer enterprises if you look beyond the hype?

The protocol gives consumer-facing enterprises click-to-call capabilities for their customers directly from the Internet without having to invest in 800-number services.

Anyone with a supporting browser can use it without a plug-in for a video call, allowing companies to communicate to anyone/anywhere.

Internal and external communications in enterprise settings can be conducted without an installed client.

 The open source platform will give organizations and developers the ability to create custom application that will be cheaper and have more functionality.

The encrypted communication paths make it more secure than a landline, giving enterprises more security when they communicate with anyone using this platform.

WebRTC  (Web Real-Time Communication) is a free, open project that enables web browsers with Real-Time Communications (RTC), optimized to improve voice calling, video chat and P2P file sharing without plugins. You would think everyone would be jumping for joy because there is such a product and they would be doing their darnedest to make it available for everyone; it is times like these that really makes me question the intelligence of the tech industry.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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