Brent Kelly
Brent Kelly is president and principal analyst at KelCor, Inc., where he provides strategy and counsel to key client types...
Read Full Bio >>

Brent Kelly | November 19, 2015 |


Customer Engagement: Get it by the Drink or the Gulp

Customer Engagement: Get it by the Drink or the Gulp AT&T and Masergy offer pay-for-use WebRTC APIs and services good for supporting engagement on customer-facing websites.

AT&T and Masergy offer pay-for-use WebRTC APIs and services good for supporting engagement on customer-facing websites.

With easy-to-use functionality, simple deployment options, and compelling price points, the WebRTC API services introduced this year by AT&T and Masergy put these carriers in a position to advanced the state of the art on customer engagement.

As discussed in a previous No Jitter post, Masergy has focused initially on providing a development environment that allows companies to place one or more click-to-call buttons on their customer-facing websites to facilitate easy engagement. But this Virtual Automated Attendant (VAA) button can do much more than just trigger WebRTC calls; it also provides visual IVR so that customers can navigate to the people or groups they really want to reach.

You can see this for yourselves by navigating your Chrome or Firefox browser over to the Masergy Support page.

What makes this solution unique is the graphical user interface (GUI), which allows easy modification of the virtual IVR menu by people with no coding skills. This GUI also provides directory integration that allows the person creating or modifying the IVR logic to route WebRTC-based calls to individuals or groups within the company. This makes it extremely simple for any company to add virtual IVR along with WebRTC calling capabilities to its website. Doubly interesting is that the logic behind the virtual IVR/WebRTC can be modified without a programmer making coding changes to the webpage. Any modifications automatically appear immediately upon page refresh.

Masergy's visual IVR solution coupled with WebRTC gives website visitors an easy way to navigate to the person or organization they wish to call (source: Masergy Support).

I believe this ability to control the functionality behind WebRTC-enabled customer engagement website buttons using a GUI will ultimately emerge as a trend among WebRTC API framework providers. It makes creation and control of the logic and functionality of these buttons so easy.

Behind the scenes is Genband's SPiDR gateway and Kandy service, which provide WebRTC-to-SIP gateway services and platform as a service for Masergy's use in provisioning VAA. Enterprise organizations deploying the Masergy service can use direct WebRTC-to-WebRTC or WebRTC-to-SIP routing so that calls can be taken natively in the browser or on a SIP telephone.

Masergy does not charge a monthly fee for this service. Rather, it bills for it on a per-minute basis, with the per-minute charge at well under one cent per minute.

Right now, the service is audio-only because browser vendors have not uniformly implemented WebRTC's video codecs. On the audio side of WebRTC, Google and Mozilla already have standardized and implemented the WebRTC audio codecs in Chrome and Firefox, and Microsoft will soon do so with its new Edge browser -- we hope.

AT&T's Enhanced WebRTC API is the other carrier service that has captured my attention. As discussed previously on No Jitter, AT&T has tightly integrated its WebRTC API with its wireline and wireless networks, and developers using the API can even get information on call states and use these in the application logic.

AT&T has designed this API to interface with its mobile network so that users of AT&T mobile devices can send and receive WebRTC calls. When a mobile user's outbound WebRTC-based call hits the PSTN, the caller ID displayed is the user's mobile phone number. Inbound calls to the mobile number are routed to the person's mobile device via the AT&T WebRTC mobile app.

Besides mobile integration, AT&T provides virtual numbers so companies can properly route inbound WebRTC calls. For example, if a user launches a WebRTC call by pressing on a webpage button, behind that button can be a phone number that becomes the caller ID if the call traverses the PSTN or a SIP telephony network. This enables call routing to the appropriate place in a call center application.

Three key functional components of the AT&T Enhanced WebRTC API include making or receiving calls from an AT&T mobile device, the use of virtual phone numbers, and registration of account IDs to create calling directories (source: AT&T).

Plantronics has implemented this type of a scenario on its support page using the AT&T Enhanced WebRTC API. In this instance, when a user clicks on the "Call with Browser" button, the call passes through a PSTN gateway in AT&T's data center and enters Plantronics' call center as a standard PSTN call. Based on the caller ID, which is the virtual number associated with the website button, Plantronics knows where to route the call within its call center. This customer engagement scenario using WebRTC on the support site required no physical changes to Plantronics' contact center; the only changes were in routing based on the virtual numbers and on training agents how to handle calls that came in showing one of these virtual numbers (they needed to understand callers were on the website, using WebRTC as opposed to regular phones).

Plantronics uses the AT&T Enhanced WebRTC API in its contact center. Using AT&T virtual numbers behind the "Call with Browser" button required no changes to Plantronics' existing Avaya contact center (source: Plantronics).

As Plantronics grows its WebRTC-enabled support site, surely it will add the ability to pass on user context as well as direct SIP integration with the contact center.

AT&T has created a compelling pricing model for its Enhanced WebRTC API: It charges a $99 annual access fee, which includes one million free audio or video calls of any duration. After the first million calls, each subsequent call is one cent for the call regardless of duration.

Overall, it is early days for WebRTC-enabled customer engagement. However, we are seeing tremendous innovation by companies that are offering WebRTC-based services and by end user companies deploying WebRTC-enabled customer engagement applications. The price points to deploy these solutions can be extremely compelling and the usage models make WebRTC much easier to deploy, particularly those emerging capabilities that provide graphical programming interfaces to browser buttons sporting WebRTC-based customer engagement features.

(Editor's Note: Look for demonstrations of these solutions at the WebRTC Conference-Within-a-Conference at Enterprise Connect 2016, coming March 7 to 10 in Orlando, Fla. Brent will be co-chairing the mini WebRTC conference along with Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research. Register now using the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price.


Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem

Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.