WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is an API definition being drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to enable browser applications for voice calling, video chat, and P2P file sharing without plugins.
What is all the fuzz about?
It enables real time communications applications directly from a web browser without any kind of installation whatsoever. Since the audio and video codecs are embedded in the browser, it makes it very simple to establish, for example, video calls.
And what does it mean for a contact center?
From the contact center point of view you can look to WebRTC from two perspectives: client and agent.
On the client side it’s important because it allows ClickToCall, ClickToVideo and ClickToChat functionality available on any website. It provides the ability for any client to contact a company’s contact center using only the web browser and progressively enabling different media, typically starting with chat, evolving to voice and finally to video. It also enables file sharing.
From the agent’s point of view it brings an enormous breakthrough: it allows contact centers to have agent applications with ZERO installation. No more install and update procedures. No more dependency from the agent’s workstation operating system. The agent just needs a browser and it’s ready to roll without any need for an hardphone or softphone installed on his workstation (nor any plugin). This means reduced costs for IT and easier and immediate rollout for remote agents.
Are there any other cool features?
Yes. Screen sharing between client and contact center agent. Today there are already available some implementations to try out (Example: https://same.io/). This is a very important simplification of the screen sharing problem that was extremely difficult to solve in the past.
Seriously, will it work everywhere regardless of browser and operating system?
That is the idea. To be honest, we are still not there yet (http://iswebrtcreadyyet.com/). At this moment, WebRTC is available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. Microsoft and Apple are on the loop (contributing to the W3C WebRTC Working Group) but their roadmap concerning WebRTC is still a secret. Today, this can be a problem from the client’s perspective because you should not ask your clients to use a specific browser if they want to contact your contact center using ClickToCall, ClickToVideo or ClickToChat. However, from the agent’s perspective it’s OK if you say to him that he must use a specific browser in order to be able to answer your contact center’s interactions.
Who is using this technology?
COLLAB launched a redesigned agent interface that is fully web based and working on top of WebRTC technology. All the fat client agent interface features are available including audio and screen recording. Start-ups like voz.io also launched their offer with WebRTC based agents. The major players are expected to follow suit eventually as part of hosted architectures.