The Business Implications of WebRTC
Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is an application launched by Google, designed for browser-based real-time communication. It supports browser-to-browser apps for video chat, voice calling, and P2P file sharing with no plug-ins. It is now well on the way to becoming standard and users are already able to place calls from browser to browser. In fact Google has used WebRTC to dispense with plug-ins as a requirement for video chat in Hangouts. But the implications are far less clear for businesses which are thinking of implementing WebRTC in the enterprise context.
It is simply not viable for organizations to adopt new technologies without considering millions invested in the previous generation of equipment. In WebRTC’s case it means that many businesses may drag their heels in pushing for innovations such as this when it means leaving behind the legacy of VoIP technologies.
At the current time every organization is experiencing this dilemma: should they independently implement WebRTC and thus support these new web-based communications experiences or focus on improving the compatibility with existing SIP networks for an easier transition? There are disadvantages to both approaches and both internal and external business factors will influence the final decision. There is no ideal solution which is going to work for every business in every situation but it will also not be financially viable to try to embrace both solutions.
WebRTC or SIP
Business enterprises generally embrace change slowly and there are good reasons for this. Interoperability has long been a major part of any new technology enterprise and it seems as if WebRTC may not be any different. The companies which have major telecommunications expertise and experience will naturally want to find a workable compromise between phone and web networks. It is possible to make WebRTC and SIP work together through gateway solutions which incorporate the best of both technologies. But the combined system may not have all the advantages of either WebRTC or SIP. In effect, the whole may be less than the sum of the individual parts.
Should organisations just focus on innovation and new web technologies without worrying about integrating the new with legacy equipment? WebRTC has the potential to effect fundamental changes in the way business is done, so organisations benefitting from this head start may be better placed to tackle future challenges.
That being said, there are not that many businesses which can afford to just write off equipment which is perfectly good and invest in an entirely new technology side by side. For those executives who are struggling to make out a case for their businesses investing in WebRTC, the best short-term solution may be the use of gateways to bridge the gap. Nevertheless it looks likely that the web-based technologies will be at the forefront of long-term innovation, so businesses should certainly not ignore them.
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