Badri Rajasekar
As CTO and SVP of engineering, Badri leads the product development, quality engineering, and cloud operations teams at TokBox, delivering...
Read Full Bio >>

Badri Rajasekar | March 07, 2018 |


The WebRTC Wave Is Now Unstoppable

The WebRTC Wave Is Now Unstoppable WebRTC has arrived for billions of users and thousands of applications.

WebRTC has arrived for billions of users and thousands of applications.

At Enterprise Connect next week, enterprise communications thought leaders will once again debate the impact of disruptive technologies. One such technology, WebRTC, will have its moment in the spotlight in the Monday morning panel, "WebRTC Reality Check: Is This the Year?," moderated by Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director at Nemertes Research. But while there may be a debate over whether WebRTC will have its moment in the enterprise sun, out in the broader marketplace, WebRTC has been a growing tsunami wave for billions of users and thousands of applications.

There are three primary developments that have powered WebRTC's impact over the last few years:

  • WebRTC has evolved into a rich technology stack
  • Social apps have risen in popularity and use, driving dramatic new consumer expectations
  • A wide variety of disruptive apps have emerged across industries

Let's take a look at each development in more depth.

WebRTC's Evolution
WebRTC is not simply about browsers; it is a fundamental technology stack that has seen nearly a billion dollars of investment from all of the various companies involved. In addition to being built-in to modern browsers, with Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge now on board, WebRTC is available packaged for native mobile apps, desktop apps, and embedded Internet of Things (IoT) apps. Much of the global innovation in the app space has been on mobile, with easy interoperability with browser versions of the app being an additional value-add.

The availability of this rich open source technology stack has been a sea change for enabling disruptive software development. The essential benefit of WebRTC is enabling tightly integrated contextual communications. WebRTC is a building block within whatever disruptive workflows and innovative customer experience models developers can dream up. All communication occurs within the app's context -- who needs to be connected, why, with what additional information, and for what purposes? Communication then becomes a simple one-touch experience that is enhanced with contextual information.

Today, toolkits and communications platform as a service (CPaaS) offers make it easy for the smallest dev team to embed and massively scale WebRTC technology in any way they want, without worrying about infrastructure And it is this emergence of easy CPaaS capabilities that has been key to broadening WebRTC adoption across industries, which I discuss below.

Dramatic New Consumer Expectations
Most of today's consumers -- and especially today's Millennials -- use social apps to communicate with each other around the world, all the time. Mobile apps for these social networks have brought communications into the palm of the hand for well over 5 billion users, according to data from Statista. The cumulative usage numbers for Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, QQ, Snapchat, Viber, Line, Hike, good-old Skype, and many more are staggering.

Consider that every one of these messaging applications now embeds one-touch voice and video communications directly into the app, either by using WebRTC directly or some derivative of the WebRTC stack. Well-resourced social companies, such as Facebook, can afford to have dedicated voice and video communications teams and build extensions to WebRTC and alternative approaches for some of the stack. However, new startups cannot afford to invest in such teams and need ready-to-go, off-the shelf WebRTC, often packaged as CPaaS.

The rise of social platforms like Facebook have set the bar very high. It no longer makes sense to introduce any new kind of social app without rich live communications, as evidenced by apps like Houseparty,, Monkey, and others where WebRTC is a given.

But it's not just social apps. The rise of embedded communications technology in the social sphere have powered an intense user expectation across the board. Every consumer-facing enterprise app is now competing with expectations set by Facebook's user experience; cost-effectively competing with the giants will require proven communications technology stacks, like WebRTC.

Disruptive Contextual Communications Apps Across Industries
Every enterprise keeps a wary eye out for the potential disruptive "Uberization" of their business by someone new with a global app, lots of cloud data, and a dream. While ridesharing relies on SMS and anonymous phone connections, for many other industries WebRTC live video has been the key disruptive factor when embedded into the contextual information of new workflows. Let's look at just three examples.

Within healthcare, telehealth is now a rapidly growing $26 billion market (Statista) where live video is essential to all kinds of use cases, including remote doctor/patient appointments, online therapy, group therapies, healthy lifestyle counseling, clinical reviews, and even remote experts in operating room theaters. InTouch Health, Teladoc, and BetterHelp are just a few examples of the kind of telehealth services that are becoming commonplace, with remote doctor visits now a standard recommended lower-cost line-item on many health insurance plans. Tokbox's own Live Video Maturity Study shows that 60% of people either have or are likely to use live video to chat with a doctor about a non-emergency condition. A look in the popular mobile app stores shows over five hundred telehealth apps incorporating WebRTC, making the technology a fundamental enabler for this market.

Within education, both academic and especially commercial training and certification, there are again many hundreds of WebRTC-based apps delivering online classrooms, tutoring sessions, community learning groups, and more. Once again, we find WebRTC is a fundamental technology building block within the larger $40 billion global eLearning market (Statista). Additionally, Tokbox's maturity study shows that three in five people either have used or are likely to use live video to speak with a tutor remotely, for example using an app like Cambly or PresenceLearning.

Insurance industry players have been for some years aggressively re-engineering customer-facing workflows through mobile and web apps. Today, live video is used within all kinds of claims processing and assessment processes, to the extent that a number of major insurers, like Allstate for example, have completely reallocated much of their field staff.

As Lazar said in his recent No Jitter post, "WebRTC is all around us."

What's Next for WebRTC?
Look to the future of augmented and mixed reality. We have already seen remote "show me" and video customer service apps for some years, as amusingly highlighted in TV ads with John McEnroe and Kathy Bates.

The future will look different. Innovations from the likes of Daqri, Help Lightning, and GoToAssist Seeit are creating rich augmented reality experiences where contextual data and remote experts become a live part of the user experience. Somewhere within the augmented context of these experiences is a WebRTC video stream! I am excited that WebRTC has so much room to grow as a foundation for a new generation of augmented and mixed reality solutions, and enterprises are already looking to take advantage of this next groundswell in communications innovation.

So there you have it -- my take on the growing tsunami wave of WebRTC, now coming to enterprise solutions near you. While we may debate the timing of the technology's moment in the sun, when you combine WebRTC's context-embeddable technology, proven app success across social interactions and industries, and its fundamental role in future technologies like augmented reality, it's safe to say that the WebRTC wave is now unstoppable.

Learn more about APIs & Embedded Communications at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Regular Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.

Related content:


September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice depl

August 29, 2018

Moving your voice services to the cloud introduces new challenges for 9-1-1 services. These include the need to serve multiple locations, and the increased mobility that comes with having a phone t

August 8, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality for your contact center. But to turn the promise of AI into practical reality, there are a couple of prerequisites: Moving to the cloud and integr

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.