Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
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Beth Schultz | April 24, 2015 |


WebRTC, Collaborative Ease Make for UC 'Coolness'

WebRTC, Collaborative Ease Make for UC 'Coolness' Gartner focuses on enhancing the collaboration experience with customers and employees in picking its cool UC vendors for 2015.

Gartner focuses on enhancing the collaboration experience with customers and employees in picking its cool UC vendors for 2015.

Since joining No Jitter last fall, I've stumbled across quite a number of innovative companies trying to change the way we interact with each other. One of those companies is CafeX Communications, which has impressed me with its approach to WebRTC-based, real-time customer engagement. But I'm not the only one who thinks CafeX is cool... Gartner does, too.

CafeX is one of five companies Gartner highlights in its "Cool Vendors in Unified Communications, 2015" report, published last week. In his analysis, research VP Steve Blood cites the ease in which CafeX enables online engagement with customers and within the enterprise. On the client side, developers can add real-time communications into Web and mobile applications via CafeX's WebRTC-based software development kits (SDK). And on the server side, CafeX provides gateway software enabling enterprise integration. To create the all-important seamless experience, CafeX uses a context bus to observe, record, and share customer activity across communications channels, including Web, voice and chat, and video, Blood writes.

CafeX offers solution sets for live assistance, predictive context, enterprise WebRTC, omnichannel, and mobile self-service. These solution sets should be of interest to "customer experience leaders with a focus on enhancing the mobile channel for customer engagement," Blood writes. In addition, the CafeX SDK is worth a look from "IT planners with a multivendor estate for UC ..., particularly those who want to consolidate voice and video experiences with a single supplier while leveraging existing investments."

Coolness, of course, doesn't come without its challenges. As Blood notes, CafeX is out in front with its WebRTC-based real-time communications capabilities today, but it won't always be. As WebRTC use spreads, CafeX needs to ramp up its focus on context and tap into the emerging analytics opportunity in order to continue differentiating itself on customer engagement.

As for workplace collaboration, CafeX has an "innovative and simple" approach to breaking down barriers preventing wider use of mobile devices and tablets for video communications. However, the company is fighting against much larger, established brands in this market, notably Cisco, Microsoft, and Polycom, Blood says.

As evident in Blood's write-up on CafeX, WebRTC support and ease of collaboration weighed heavily in Gartner's consideration for coolness. As it notes in the report, "Coolness in ... UC continues to be defined in terms of advancing WebRTC for customer and employee working environments, and tools to enhance employee engagement in collaboration."

Besides CaféX, the companies that made the coolness cut for 2015 are:

  • Altia Systems, which provides a 200-degree field of view via a panoramic USB video camera called PanaCast. Its industry-first mobile, panoramic 4K, USB plug-and-play camera should be "particularly attractive to consumer markets and in business and workplace applications where a mobile camera is needed." Also of note, Altia Systems has integrated with Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business.
  • OnSIP, for its InstaPhone video and phone WebRTC application that runs in Salesforce -- "no downloads required."
  • Perch, which makes "a smart ambient video solution ... designed from the ground up to be always available to virtually connect office spaces and facilitate natural, unscheduled face-to-face interactions among teams -- regardless of physical location." Perch is built on WebRTC, and it activates a local microphone by using facial detection to determine when somebody is about to talk.
  • Redbooth, which uses visual metaphors to facilitate use of real-time communications and collaboration for projects and within workspaces. Gartner explains: "The project metaphor enables teams to create an environment and context that maps to their specific processes in planning work, executing activities and transparently reporting outcomes. Then, within each project, participants can use the persistent workspace metaphor and have context-specific files, tasks, conversations, shared notes, instant messaging dialogues, as well as video-based real-timeconversations among participants."

Worth noting, I think, is that several of these companies have previously earned recognition at Enterprise Connect for their innovativeness. Redbooth, for example, was one of seven companies selected to participate in the Enterprise Connect 2015 Innovation Showcase, while Perch participated in the showcase in 2014. Also at Enterprise Connect 2014, CafeX won the best product award.

If you were to create your own cool UC list, which vendors would you put on it? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

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