WebRTC and the Contact CenterMany questions and comments arose from our last post regarding WebRTC, which indicates a growing interest in WebRTC technology, and its application within the cloud-based contact center. The main question is whether or not WebRTC is ready for prime time. The answer is yes and no. While most web browsers support WebRTC today, it is interesting to note that one significant industry leader is challenging the evolving standard: Microsoft. Microsoft is offering an alternative to WebRTC they claim to be far more flexible, and also compatible with other browser implementations. This compatibility claim has yet to be conclusively proven.

More importantly, most cloud-based contact centers may not yet have proper infrastructure in place today to support WebRTC interactions. Beyond the bandwidth and latency concerns of carrying both voice and video over IP, endpoint devices typically used by agents (regardless whether they use soft phone clients or physical desktop phones) may not be compatible with WebRTC protocol. Many hand set phone providers and soft client vendors have WebRTC as a requirement on their roadmaps for the near future, which could require software and hardware updates.

ROI Potential for WebRTC in Large Enterprise Cloud Contact Centers

A temporary workaround in advance of full WebRTC is to transcode incoming WebRTC streams to some other voice or video protocol such as H.264 or G.711. Acme Packets demonstrated this capability last November by successfully delivering a WebRTC call to a mobile subscriber employing its session border controller technology. Other vendors have announced similar approaches. This methodology could become very expensive when sized and implemented for a large enterprise, compared with the anticipated return on investment WebRTC could deliver to the cloud-based contact center vendor and client community.

There is no doubt that support for WebRTC is becoming a requirement for cloud-based contact centers. Both the contact center vendors and their clients want to address customer choice and support the increasing methods and types of interactions preferred by customers. Invariably there will be first-movers in this area. These early adopters will help drive the marketplace to natively support WebRTC through their products and services. As such, the real question on WebRTC is not why or how, but when?

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