Is WebRTC in Your Facebook Future?
One of the biggest challenges for enterprise IT is the explosion of consumer alternatives to the services that are provided to their employees. Facebook just announced WebRTC-based video extensions to the Facebook Messenger, opening yet another way employees can use an alternative to the corporate services. For WebRTC, this is a big deal. With 600 million active users, Facebook will open the door to massive use of video. And, because it is WebRTC-based, it is one-click video, simple and easy to use.
For IT departments, this announcement will present yet another conundrum. Your users will now be able to use Facebook to interact with their contacts, completely outside of the corporate network. Whether that is an issue or not probably is tied to whether you want your company represented through Facebook or not. Regardless, your employees will begin to see video as something that should just work, all the time. As Facebook is leading with their mobile app, your users will expect that your communications systems will provide the same capability and ease of use.
Another key differentiation is the change from Skype to WebRTC for Facebook. As long as Facebook used Skype for the real-time communications, it could be managed as Skype. By blocking Skype traffic, it essentially eliminated that traffic as well. WebRTC is both harder to block, but, more importantly, WebRTC is something you want to enable. If your users get invited to a conference that enables a WebRTC participation (like Uberconference), it is better to have them use the web versus the PSTN. It saves you money and improves their quality. However, by enabling WebRTC (or at least not blocking it completely), you are now opening the door to users having video calls from their devices using Facebook.
Another challenge is Internet Explorer. If your users want to use the new Facebook service for business reasons, they will need to download either Chrome or Firefox, as IE does not support WebRTC today. The good news is that Chromebooks supports WebRTC, so you can open the door to using really inexpensive devices.
In the end, Facebook is going to change the game with this announcement. With 600 million active users, many interacting with their Facebook app multiple times a day, adding simple video calling will dramatically change the market. While Skype is used primarily as a meeting, Facebook is, by definition, a social environment, a place to meet and greet your friends and potential friends.
I think the announcement will have a dramatic impact. Here are a few predictions:
- By the end of 2016, Facebook video will have the largest volume on the planet of video minutes. It will eclipse Skype as casual video becomes common. Enterprise users will see this as an easy alternative to corporate complexity.
- Facebook will expose more people to WebRTC (probably without their knowing it) by the end of 2015 than have used WebRTC to date.
- Microsoft will add open web representation into Skype in 2015 enabling users to publish a Skype URL and anyone with a WebRTC-enabled browser will be able to go there and have a one-click video call with that user on Skype (except potentially Chrome unless it supports H.264).
- The WebRTC doors are wide open. With Facebook leading the way, EVERY application that has a value proposition for real-time enablement within the app will either get going or lose in the market. Consumers will EXPECT real-time as they will become very comfortable using it in Facebook.
As an enterprise communications professional, WebRTC is going to have a huge impact on your solutions and your organization. If you are not up to speed, the WebRTC World Conference and Expo in Miami May 12-14, 2015, is the ideal opportunity to get there. Use the code WRTCUCS for a 20% discount.