Sunday, April 19, 2015

Blueprint: How Mobile Operators Can Benefit From WebRTC

by Arvind Rangarajan, BroadSoft

WebRTC is one of the most discussed communications technologies today, as it enables enterprises to conduct real time voice and video calls with customers, partners and suppliers via a Web browser. By 2019, there will be more than 6 billion WebRTC devices and up to 2.5 billion active users of “embedded” communications worldwide, according Disruptive Analysis’ 2014 WebRTC Market Status & Forecasts Report. Even today, WebRTC is already enabled on more than a billion browsers, which indicates a very real and immediate opportunity for mobile operators and telcos.


Moderating a WebRTC session at Enterprise Connect 2015, one industry analyst estimated there to be approximately 200 WebRTC vendor solutions commercially available (or at least announced) at this moment. The sheer volume of WebRTC products, platforms, and applications is particularly remarkable given that most have been launched over just the past few months.

For mobile operators and service providers eyeing WebRTC but unsure how to move forward, the good news is that it doesn’t take years, months, or even weeks to benefit from WebRTC-enabled applications. A growing set of WebRTC-enabling tools simplify the process for service providers seeking to design and customize their own unified communications (UC) offers, which can increase service provider revenue opportunities, enhance the customer experience, future proof investments as the technology evolves, and deliver several additional key benefits.

Extend Unified Communications Beyond Enterprise

Most of the initial WebRTC-enabled technologies focus on delivering more enhanced customer support and a superior customer experience through capabilities such as click-to-call. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that businesses view WebRTC as a way to extend real-time unified communications beyond the confines of an enterprise – to any customer, partner or supplier with a WebRTC-enabled browser.

By extending the benefits of UC to an enterprise's entire ecosystem, external company communications are as simple and efficient as internal communications, in turn lowering enterprise costs by enabling users to take advantage of UC without the need for expensive client software or hardware.  This is significant for mobile operators and telcos attempting to determine where the most immediate and tangible WebRTC business opportunity lie.

WebRTC Can Power Mobile Applications

WebRTC adoption in the mobile world has been slow largely due to the challenges with the use of browsers; for example, it is difficult to notify a subscriber using a mobile browser about an incoming WebRTC call if the browser is not open. That is among a handful of reasons that, initially, apps may be used more than browsers in this context, and until browser enhancements are made, WebRTC can serve as the underlying technology for mobile apps for real-time communications.

The fact is that there are several factors positioning 2015 as the year when the explosion of WebRTC offerings will be matched by a growing user base and tangible revenues for service providers. First, telcos around the world are moving from traditional circuit-switched networks to full IP-based 4G networks to reduce costs as well as offer rich new mobile communications services.

Second, there is also significant demand from enterprises and consumers to have the ability to access all of their communications services on multiple devices. More specifically, data indicate customer interaction will increasingly be mobile-centric. By 2017, research firm IDC projects 87% of the worldwide smart connected device markets will be smartphones and tablets, while only 13% of the devices will be desktops and laptops. At the same time, 2014 research by ThinkJar finds 78% of organizations indicate mobile customer service is valuable to them (up from 31% the prior year).

Mobile smart phone data usage is very different compared to traditional browsing with laptops and tablets. There has been consistent data showing app usage dominating the overall mobile data consumption. For that reason, mobile operators should start by building apps that use WebRTC technology on the back end or even integrating WebRTC into existing apps. By creating a more compelling customer experience on mobile devices, mobile operators will drive more mobile access network usage. For example, adding voice or video capability into an app provided by a mobile operator that gives account details like usage would be of tremendous value. The capability could help the subscriber reach a representative for more personalized support.

Improve user experience for the future

Through WebRTC, enterprises can improve the customer experience by adding a rich media communication experience within their Website, email communications and mobile apps as the solution enables real-time, browser-based video and voice calling. This will prove especially critical for mobile devices, as research firm Gartner recently indicated that weak mobile customer service is harming customer engagement. For this reason, the ability of organizations to leverage WebRTC across all devices – of note given Gartner’s projection that one-third of all customer service interactions will still require the support of a human intermediary by 2017 – will go a long way in creating a superior customer experience.

Beyond mobile specifically, service providers are able to leverage WebRTC to customize their UC offers for a particular business need; enabling innovative services that address business issues and current market trends, including an increasingly disparate workforce, the growing share of millennials in the workforce, and a growing desire to access communications applications across a broad array of connected devices.

WebRTC is a true enabling technology; one with all the ingredients to improve the user experience, spark innovation and unlock new customer and revenue opportunities for mobile operators able to rapidly, cost-effectively and efficiently bring compelling solutions to market.

About the Author

Arvind Rangarajan is Director, Product Marketing at BroadSoft, a leading provider of cloud-based unified communications and collaboration solutions.

About BroadSoft 

BroadSoft is the leading provider of software and services that enable mobile, fixed-line and cable service providers to offer Unified Communications over their Internet Protocol networks. The Company’s core communications platform enables the delivery of a range of enterprise and consumer calling, messaging and collaboration communication services, including private branch exchanges, video calling, text messaging and converged mobile and fixed-line services. For additional information, visit http://www.BroadSoft.com




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