As a startup, there are a few assumptions we can make about you and your business.
First, we can assume that you’re so busy that your friends and romantic partner have probably cried foul. Second, your team is distributed across several geographical locations. Third, you’re innovating and redefining how a modern business runs. Fourth, money is tight (unless you’re rockin’ the venture capital, of course).
WebRTC makes sense for all of these factors, which is why startups of all stripes are adopting the real-time communications technology.
First promoted by Google, WebRTC is an emerging standard for voice, video, and file sharing, providing capabilities much like over-the-top providers such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unlike these stand-alone proprietary solutions, however, WebRTC is open-source, embraced by a wide consortium of businesses and tech partners, and doesn’t require platform-specific software, plugins, or vendor lock-in. It enables video, audio, chat, and both screen and file sharing through any modern web browser or within mobile apps through SDKs.
But back to why your startup should consider WebRTC—here are five of the best reasons.
- Easy to Use and Deploy
Before WebRTC, there were three primary ways that businesses could get video chat and unified communications functionality. They could use an OTT solution like Skype, they could go with a proprietary cloud-based solution such as GoToMeeting, or they could pony up for a business unified communications solutions such as Microsoft Lync (now becoming Microsoft Skype for Business).
WebRTC is easier than all three of these solutions. OTT and the likes of GoToMeeting require bouncing between apps to get contact info, passwords, etc., and require everyone to use the same software. Unified communications solutions like Lync require integrators and specialized knowledge to deploy. WebRTC, on the other hand, just requires passing around a URL.
- Innovative Sales, Customer Service, and Collaboration
A second reason why WebRTC rocks the house is for what it can do for sales and customer service.
Since WebRTC is easy to integrate into websites and apps and doesn’t require a plugin unless the user is on IE or Safari (Apple is still not on board with the standard, but there are plugins that can automatically load for this situation), it enables forward-thinking customer service. When your customers have an issue with your product or service, they can just click a button and connect with your team via video, much like Amazon does with its much-heralded Mayday button on Kindle.
Sales also can benefit, as your staff can pass potential customers a link to initiate a video session. From this, they then can demonstrate product features, answer questions in live time, and share things like PowerPoint presentations. WebRTC helps the virtual meeting finally make sense.
Your distributed workforce and mobile employees can also use WebRTC for collaboration that is much more robust than many other email and collaboration platforms. At the same time, it is easier than standardizing on an OTT platform like Skype.
- Mobile First
As a forward-thinking startup, you surely know that mobile rules the web. A report by eMarketer showed that 51 percent of all digital media now goes through mobile, while only 41 percent is viewed by a laptop or desktop. Each year for the past eight years, the percentage taken by mobile has grown.
As a result, optimizing for mobile devices is key. WebRTC helps because it works across all devices just like adaptive web design. Further, through the use of a WebRTC network and mobile SDK provider such as Agora.io, businesses can ensure that their real-time communications with customers are stable and can survive the variable connectivity that comes with cellular networks and global connections between countries. Agora.io intelligently routes and re-routes real-time sessions around the Internet to avoid troubled routes, and its over 65 data centers around the world bring reliable quality of experience (QoE) to real-time voice and video communications.
- Better Security
Just this week one of my websites was hacked (an updated WordPress install, no less). Even if you’ve never faced a hack attempt, you’re well aware that we live in a world where security matters more than ever. Yet many real-time communications solutions are not actually as secure as we expect.
That’s because the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) used by many solutions is not secure, and the Secure RTP (SRTP) brings the goods but is fiddly to set up in many cases, so VoIP and unified communications sometimes settle for the less-secure RTP protocol instead. They think nobody really will notice or care.
But we care; and so does Google and the standards bodies. That’s why WebRTC uses secure SRTP by default for connections. This makes it both easier and more secure than many of the alternatives.
- Cost Savings
While not free if your business ponies up for quality of service assurance from providers such as Agora or buys other services around WebRTC, it still is going to be less expensive than almost every other unified communications solution. This comes from it being a peer-to-peer protocol that works natively between browsers and because it is not a proprietary solution.
WebRTC not only is attractive in comparison to the competition; its easy integration with websites and lack of required software helps it save your startup money elsewhere. For instance, you can use the technology instead of a toll-free number and prospect more effectively by adding click-to-call to your promotional material.
There are other ways that WebRTC can be used by your startup, too. Since the technology is so new, many of its uses are waiting to be discovered by creative businesses. Maybe one of those businesses is yours.