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May 29, 2014

WebRTC Driving Remote Workforces, Real-time Communications and Visual Collaboration

Smart mobile devices and wireless broadband have introduced many new solutions that allow people and businesses to be more efficient and productive. This includes collaborative tools that previously were only available on laptops, desktops or propriety video conferencing devices. This has increased the number of people that work remotely, and more companies are allowing their employees to choose traditional, remote or a hybrid working opportunity. Visual collaboration is a huge component making this trend possible, and while not everyone can afford expensive propriety solutions, WebRTC makes it possible for anyone with an enabled browser or application to interact with their coworkers, customers and everyone they know.

A very important component of WebRTC is the price, which is free. The open source nature of the project allows developers to create solutions with very low entry barriers for visual collaborations, voice calling and file sharing. Currently Chrome, Firefox and Opera have implemented the technology in their browsers, meaning billions of people around the world now have the capability of using visual collaboration tools anytime and anywhere for free.

The fact that the platform is free will only increase the adoption of real-time communications, and companies with propriety collaboration software and hardware have to really start assessing their business model. This is because as more developers start creating better application to integrate WebRTC, more people and businesses will start questioning the validity of paying for something that can be obtained for free or at a dramatically lower price point.                               

Until WebRTC gains traction, organizations that use video specific client platforms such as Cisco and Polycom will continue to use it because they provide advanced high-quality audio and video capabilities. However, this is not going to last much longer because WebRTC technology will catch up and the differences won't be enough to justify the on-premises infrastructure, maintenance and fees of the traditional platforms.

The one downside WebRTC faces is not everyone is currently implementing it in their browsers, with Internet Explorer and Safari still considering their options. Traditional conference rooms or unified communications (UC) systems also might not be able to participate because they have to use the same signaling protocol as Google's media codecs. These are problems developers can resolve, they nonetheless are issues some players in the industry are concerned about and to gain full traction WebRTC has to include all existing solutions.

These problems will be resolved, but in the meantime anyone with a smart mobile device can starts a video chat with a native WebRTC browser without having to worry about a plugin or compatibility issues. 

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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