Over the years we have all probably taken part in video conferences. Paradoxically, whilst at the time we were always located in various fixed positions, you could say the experience has been a ‘journey’.
In terms of technology much has changed along the way. Some of us started with video solutions that required the linking together enough 64Kb basic rate lines to get somewhere near the 256/512Kb bandwidth required for a jitter free picture with continuous sound and thus enjoy an acceptable user experience. That experience was invariably accompanied by an attendant technician, there to make sure all the right buttons were pressed in the right order to fire up and maintain the connection.
Later on, we moved to new ‘telepresence’ conferences.
Of course it was brilliant. It was HD. It was indeed, as the marketers of the day termed it, an immersive experience. The trouble was that telepresence cost; technology requirements and on-going support meant it was only an exclusive club who could benefit from it. It was certainly beyond the reach of most organisations in the mid-market.
Desktop video conferencing rather than dedicated room sized systems have been prevalent for some time but all came with a built in disadvantage – you needed to buy add-on kit and/or install and run local client software such as is required with say Skype.
At this point in the ‘journey’, the video conference experience could be summarised as ‘great when it worked but otherwise clumsy, clunky and a bit expensive’. What we wanted, particularly occasional users, was to be able to simply replicate the instinctive, immediate and instant means of communication that we were used to – like making a phone call.
We have seen more headlines proclaiming ‘this will be the year of video conferencing’ than we could imagine and despite the market drivers of ever increasing transports costs and the best that Icelandic volcanoes could throw at us to disrupt air travel, video communications has never really got off the ground.
Today however the world of instinctive, instant and immediate video calling along with screen and application sharing is with us and readily available in the form of WebRTC.
To give it its full name, Web Real Time Communications is set to disrupt the status quo as it gathers momentum and makes significant inroads – creating a simple browser-to-browser communications market.
I guess you might be thinking this is all shiny sparkly new stuff, but wait! The 4th annual WebRTC Summit is taking place shortly and it’s a big show (note: the 4th annual summit) . And it includes topics such as voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and numerous examples of users who have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Putting this in context, organisations are changing; many are recognising that the old silos they have been working in are proving restrictive in terms of getting ideas together and hampering their need to get products more quickly to market.
Technology such as WebRTC is one element of a Unified Communications mix that finally addresses the delivery of achievable, simple communications and is a key reason why organisations will embrace Cloud UC.
There are many other business reasons too; increasing productivity and providing customer service excellence via free calls will only enhance competitive advantage.
And here’s the really great news.
Today we already have the kind of connectivity that makes all this possible – from a simple click on a browser.