The web, or more accurately WebRTC, is changing VoIP and UC.
Once upon a time we had VoIP. It was magical. We started using the internet to send voice and video in realtime to communicate. Later on, there were talks about “interoperability” and “convergence”, which escalated to the current state of affair with “unified communications”.
Over a decade now, VoIP and UC are focused on one thing: how to utilize the IP protocol with its packet switching network to better communicate. For video conferencing, it was resolution and frame rate, for voice it is capacity, number of codecs and the ability to work with as many IP PBXs as possible.
It was all about communicating in the here and now – meeting the immediate demand to reach out to someone. If you ask me, this is the Physiological basic needs at the bottom of Marslow’s hierarchy of needs. And it is time to grow out of it.
I have been talking lately with a lot of WebRTC startups, and most of these companies aren’t interested in taking VoIP or UC and just migrating them to the web browser – they are into something different than that – they are into changing the VoIP and UC paradigms to match those of the internet.
Here are two recent examples out of a lot of others out there:
Drum web conferences
Last week I published an interview I had with John Logsdon from Drum. Drum is an online service quite similar to WebEx, with a twist: it uses WebRTC and the native web. It might not seem like much, and in and by itself it really isn’t.
But then you start looking at the features and mindset: they belong to the web and not to collaboration solutions like WebEx: it offers automatic archiving of the meetings you have on the platform, it captures tasks, decisions and the summary of the meetings – and it does that for ALL participants.
Ever been on a Drum conference? Did that without being a paying customer? Guess what – the history of that conference you attended is there online – waiting for you to review it. Anytime you want.
Not an earth shattering addition, but this comes from an internet mindset rather than a VoIP one.
Bistri casual video chats
Ever shared a file on Skype? Or Lync? Or any other VoIP service for that matter?
Bistri, a company that uses WebRTC to power casual video chats with friends and family, has a new feature that they just announced: a gallery of all the files you shared. So you can access them again without needing to search on your PC’s hard drive.
Storage for an ephemeral part of the conversation… hmm…
You can argue that these are possible with the classic UC solutions and it is just a matter of features. I don’t think so. For the UC vendors, this is just an additional optional feature. In the WebRTC world, these are the basis of interaction – moving up to the next level of Marslow’s pyramid.
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