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August 02, 2016

The Real Time Engagement Opportunity

Should you incorporate real time into your app? The short answer: yes. Regardless of industry, real time is redefining engagement and development, giving firms a powerful tool to add to their customer care arsenal. A Tuesday panel discussion at Real Time Web Solutions composed of IDC’s Mark Winther, Voxbone’s Chad Hart, Blacc Spot Media’s Lantre Barr and moderated by PKE Consulting LLC & UC Strategies.com’s Phil Edholm explored this and more.

Winther opened the conversation from an analyst perspective, noting that over the past few years real time communications and communications APIs are now front and center, allowing for the shift from “siloed to something embedded, programmable and built around the cloud.” Real time is truly transformational, and the panelists illustrated some of their favorite use cases in action.

Car insurance by itself is certainly not a “sexy” topic, but one insurance company appears to have real time rendering happy customers by reducing the headache in the claims process. Hart illustrated that the esurance app is notable for its efforts. When esurance customers get into a car accident, the new app allows you live interaction and inspection with an agent. By leveraging video, the agent can determine the extent of the damage and provide action steps for the customer. Both sides of the equation benefit; the process is user and time friendly.

Inspections can be a hassle by nature, between finding an available inspector and making timing work, the frustration can mount rather quickly. In comes WeGoLook, a company that will match up a person that needs something inspected with an inspector. The inspector views whatever needs to be inspected via their mobile phone. Winther also noted a real opportunity in telehealth, noting “There’s not enough doctors in the country...so having a virtual doctor/patient visit is incredibly valuable. Insurance is now supporting it and covering it.” And, with real time video, a doctor can provide a prescription.

It was only matter of time before the Internet of Things (IoT) burst into the conversation, as Barr explained his interest in integrated hardware solutions, offering the example of Ring. Ring is a company that makes a doorbell, which has a microphone and camera that allows the homeowner to allow guests entry through the homeowner’s mobile device. Barr noted, “This is a fairly cheap integration of real time,” continuing to note the immense opportunity IoT represents for real time solutions.

The three above mentioned examples do an exceptional job of conveying the engagement capable with a real time deployment. As Barr highlighted, “More engagement with users promotes brand loyalty...most people are unaware of engagement opportunities.”

A place millions, if not billions, of people around the world engage is social media and, according to Hart, “It’s an easy place to start...it’s a natural escalation,” as we already SMS. In an API-centric world, Barr introduced Twilio to the conversation, noting the integration between Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp enabling users to communicate across platforms. This is one of the early steps in a transformative journey.

Winther explained that the beauty of social media is the accessibility; there is a “real power as a way of expanding the market.” We already invite people to connect, or “friend” us in real time, and he illustrated this “has had a huge viral effect.”

Edholm’s last question to the panel: Are there apps that really don’t need real time? The short answer is no. Tthe slightly longer answer is that it is safe to say any app can gain from real time; it’s more of a question of how real time is put to use in each application.

The real time engagement opportunity is here and now; don’t leave your app two steps behind.

Edited by Alicia Young
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