What is WebRTC?

WebRTC is an open-source project that was released by Google in 2011. The project is comprised of various components including codecs and APIs in order to enable user-friendly real-time communication.

In short, ‘WebRTC is an API definition drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that supports browser-to-browser applications for voice calling, video chat, and P2P file sharing without plugins’. (Wikipedia)

WebRTC essentially allows users to use their browsers as applications for real-time communication without the need for any additional clients or plugins. Since it’s release, the WebRTC standard has gained significant momentum and is widely used in the majority of communications applications, including business and social. WebRTC is currently fully supported by open standards browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari and Opera.

Adoption of WebRTC

Since its inception, the number of WebRTC users has quickly grown, and although WebRTC has cemented itself as a fairly standard technology amongst most modern software applications, its growth is only set to increase. As more browsers began to support WebRTC, its number of users rose to around 90% (W3Counter, 2019). In fact, Microsoft tried to enter the market with their own version called CU-RTC-Web available on Internet Explorer, however has since adopted WebRTC with Microsoft Edge.

The WebRTC market is expected to reach US$55.12 billion by the end of 2026 at a CAGR of 18.1% between 2019 and 2026.

Business Benefits of WebRTC

WebRTC is a game changer for unified communications, offering simpler and cheaper real-time communications options. The following examples below demonstrate how WebRTC-enabled communications can benefit all sizes and types of business:

1. Break down the barriers to video conferencing

By bringing real-time communication to the browser, WebRTC has completely changed the way people communicate. Users can start a video conference or voice chat without being interrupted to download a client or update an existing plugin.

With WebRTC, businesses can now communicate via the internet browser without dialling a phone number, or requiring a middleman, such as Skype. There is also no longer a need to sign into an online meeting service. This brings to an end issues of interoperability and compatibility, as with just one-click through the internet browser a user can join a web conference and interact with multiple participants.

Video Conference

By bringing real-time communication to the browser, WebRTC has completely changed the way people communicate. Users can start a video conference or voice chat without being interrupted to download a client or update an existing plugin.

With WebRTC, businesses can now communicate via the internet browser without dialling a phone number, or requiring a middleman, such as Skype. There is also no longer a need to sign into an online meeting service. This brings to an end issues of interoperability and compatibility, as with just one-click through the internet browser a user can join a web conference and interact with multiple participants.

As WebRTC is an open standards application, it can be easily integrated with a standards-based unified communications (UC) solution. With an open standards UC solution it is possible to mix-and-match hardware, such as webcams and headsets, so as to create a cost effective solution and thereby removing the cost barrier.

Proprietary video conferencing solutions can be extremely expensive, for instance Cisco Meeting Room can cost in the region of $30,000, whereas Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e costs around $1,250. WebRTC breaks down the cost and technical barriers to video conferencing – making a professional web conferencing solution now within easy reach of most businesses.

2. Communicate with ease

From enriching a standard phone call with video to visualizing a sales pitch- these tasks can now take place, hassle-free, through the internet browser, thanks to WebRTC. Simplifying communications has great benefits for businesses, including time savings and more effective communication. With a WebRTC-enabled solution, each employee can have their own personal call link, like a DID for WebRTC, enabling them to launch video and audio calls on the spot, whenever they want.

Beyond the benefits for individual users, businesses also benefit from classroom features to host webinars for both customers and staff. Support departments can also utilize WebRTC to offer clientless screen sharing to show users the solution to their problem. When technical help is required, users are often frustrated, but with WebRTC-enabled remote assistance, help can be given with just one click.

Moreover, visual collaboration can provide a valuable and effective way of communicating with customers and suppliers, enabling businesses to give product demonstrations and pitches. Being able to discuss face-to-face, in contrast to impersonal conference calls, can boost creative collaboration and enable businesses to make faster decisions. Non-verbal communication and visual interaction can help create successful conversations.

Imagine that you are having a call with a colleague who is currently working from home. You wish to show them your designs of the latest product so that you can brainstorm ideas. In the past you would have had to sign in to your web conferencing solution and wait for them to turn on their webcam. Now with one click your voice call can be elevated to a video call. This use of WebRTC offers great advantages for businesses with remote workers or multiple offices.

3. Boost customer service with website live chat and talk

Businesses are always looking for more effective ways to communicate with their customers. WebRTC adds a whole new dimension with click-to-call capabilities. This feature enables customers to call a business directly from their browsers, free of charge. Making it easier for customers to get in touch has clear business benefits, research shows that 61% of searchers believe that click-to-call is most valuable in the purchase phases and statistics show that click-to-call behaviour often leads to conversions (Kissmetrics, 2016). 

Imagine a customer browsing your website, trying to find a specific product and having difficulties doing so. With WebRTC they can call the sales department with one mouse click and be shown where the product they are searching for is. They won’t detour to another section or even worse go to a competitor’s site because they become frustrated for not being able to find what they want. According to Google’s research on click-to-call, ‘nearly half of mobile searchers, indicated that the lack of a call option would lead them to be both frustrated with the business and more likely to turn to another brand’ (Google, 2013).

Website visitors can make a free voice or video call directly to a business through the internet browser. When a visitor clicks on the embedded call button in a website, a VoIP call will be made and can be immediately answered by the right person within the business. This means that customers can bypass lengthy IVR voice menus and reach an actual person from the outset. As a result customer satisfaction will increase along with sales and productivity.

According to a study by eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark, 79% of customers now prefer live chat support. As website live chat has grown in popularity amongst both businesses and customers, it’s important that the ability to seamlessly transition from chat to voice or video is implemented into a business’ website. WebRTC is the technology that has made this possible, not only enabling user-friendly browser based communications, but also facilitating a better unified communications experience and omnichannel setups for better customer satisfaction.

By using multiple call button links, customers can be directed to the most appropriate team member for their enquiry. However, call buttons must be intuitive and well-placed on the website to encourage use and also businesses must ensure resources are in place to handle the call appropriately.

Live Chat and Talk

4. Cut business overheads

As inbound calls via the click-to-call function are effectively free, businesses can significantly reduce, or remove the cost of operating expensive 800 number calls. This can really add up for a contact centre. From the perspective of the customer, although 800 calls are free on a landline, on a mobile they are still charged airtime rates, thereby rendering an 800 number useless. As a WebRTC call is free for customers and more cost-effective for businesses than a 800 number, all parties benefit.

Besides cutting call costs, with WebRTC-enabled web conferencing businesses can reduce the amount of time and money they are spending on business travel. With 70% of SMBs preferring to have a video conference, rather than travelling to meetings, it’s clear that there is a demand for high-quality professional conferencing solutions. Moreover, 35% of users reported that they have reduced up to half their business travel with video conferencing (Lifesize, 2019). In turn, this time saved can be used to reach out to more potential customers, thereby increasing productivity.

5. Going Green

Until more recent years, going green may have been slightly overlooked when it comes to the ways that businesses are run. With more and more emphasis on climate change and pollution, an increasing number of us are making an effort to minimize our carbon footprint. WebRTC enables users to meet with ease and collaborate on a scale that closely matches face-to-face, person-to-person meetings, so that our work needn’t interfere with our attempts at a more green lifestyle. And, 31% of users believe that companies invested in the use of video conferencing care more about the environment (Lifesize, 2019).

How to adopt WebRTC in your business

The recommendations outline what features you could look for in your phone system in order to successfully incorporate WebRTC-enabled technology:

  • Identify your short term and long term communication needs to ensure that you choose a solution which supports all the WebRTC-enabled features your business requires.
  • Select a phone system and video conferencing solution that natively speaks WebRTC. A fully-integrated, open standards UC solution is a popular choice for many businesses as it offers a one-stop shop for all communications needs – combining WebRTC-enabled web conferencing, click-to-call and an IP phone system.
  • Choose a software-based solution which can be easily integrated with your existing IT infrastructure and CRM applications.
  • Select an open standards solution which will give your business the flexibility to ‘mix and match’ hardware, such as webcams and IP phones, to create the perfect communications solution at a cost effective price.
  • Make sure your vendor is fully committed to innovation and adopting the latest technology to ensure your phone system does not become outdated.

Conclusion

WebRTC is a useful technology standard for businesses as it enables colleagues to communicate more easily and for customers quickly and easily communicate and solve issues with click-to-call and with a variety of features. As a customer service and collaboration tool it’s hard to beat. Businesses that have embraced WebRTC will have undoubtedly seen commercial benefits and gain a competitive advantage – not least better customer engagement, boosted sales, improved communication and reduced call costs.

A corporate UC solution is an investment for the future- a high quality vendor will provide a fully functional, secure communications system which will increase productivity and create a professional appearance. 3CX Phone System is a software-based solution packed full of UC features, including fully integrated video conferencing. 3CX WebMeeting uses WebRTC to offer clientless web conferencing and collaboration. In addition, 3CX offers click-to-call and website live chat and talk, and provides each extension with their own call link. Designed with the IT administrator in mind, 3CX is simple, flexible and affordable. To find out more visit our website at www.astricloud.com.

webrtc video conferencing

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