Andrew Hug
Polycom Employee

Web Real Time Communications, or WebRTC, is rapidly becoming a hot topic of discussion and is attracting a host of debate from technology experts across the vertical industries. A lot of interesting conversations are taking place on this subject but no one actually ever picks up the question that an average consumer might ask – “what’s in it for me?” This encouraged me to pen my thoughts and to break down the complex technical aspects for the digital consumers of today and the near future.


The online consumption of digital data, such as video and voice, was never as high before as we are seeing today. This digitalisation has not spared the professional setups either. Professionals are increasingly found to be in a catch-22 situation where access to useful video or voice content has been restricted by the necessary but exasperating firewall.


There is a free tutorial video on YouTube that would help you learn a new trick on spreadsheets but the firewall is blocking the access. Or, your business partner is using an Instant Messaging application that your firewall doesn’t allow you connect to. Or, it may even be that the firewall requires you to download additional plug-ins for that one video conference meeting. Does that sound familiar? I am sure it is the case for many, especially if they are working for a business where IT security is of prime importance, eg in financial services, government or healthcare.


Imagine if you could access any type of voice or video content from any device without breaching the company security policy or having to download additional plug-ins or apps. Yes, that is the future that WebRTC is driving us towards. The issue of global access will soon be resolved.


My prediction is that we will start seeing the real-life applications of the technology in the next two to three years. The future isn’t as far away as you think.

Consumers will be able to contact businesses via voice, video or chat all through their PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Unified communications (UC) will become more commonplace and in partnership with WebRTC organisations will be able to extend the benefits to their employees.


WebRTC only defines a video and content sharing device; it contains no provision for call control. Somebody will have pay for the service and infrastructure somewhere. This is why it is important to note that it will enable B2C conversations, not C2C.


It is also essential that digital consumers are made aware of the lack of embedded security traversal in WebRTC. However it should be noted that WebRTC audio and video streams are encrypted. This means for enterprise level usage consumers will require enterprise grade UC solution.


In the UK, Lloyds bank has already started using selfies to support new account applications but a face-to-face identity confirmation process, for example, would have to be more secure and efficient. In situations where visual information and confirmation is needed, WebRTC will soon become an ideal choice that will truly benefit the digital consumer of today or in the workplace of the future.


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