Comcast and WebRTC

May 15, 2014

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By Chris Vitek

In a tweet a couple weeks ago Chris Wendt, Principle Architect, Office of the CTO at Comcast announced the use of WebRTC in Comcast’s new X1 platform due for general availability in 2015.  The official announcement is here.

In addition to the triple-play capabilities already available here is a brief summary of what it will do:

  • Live streaming video from your wireless device to any Comcast X1 user.  The example they offered is live streaming a little league game to your Grandparents.  This will add a new dimension to public access.
  • Personalization of the TV guide for language and content with picture-in-picture for the last 9 channels viewed.
  • Voice navigation of the guide. Like Amazon’s Dash and Fire TV that I wrote about on No Jitter.
  • Enhanced kids restrictions for general viewing and on-demand. Probably based on “data channel” and peer-to-peer content delivery networking.
  • On-demand availability immediately after a show.
  • Home automation and security system integration with mobile access.  This looks like ‘data channel’ to me.
  • Location services that map the location of family member’s devices. Nice to know where the kids are.
  • Voice mail playback through any device and voice-to-text transcription.

It has been about a year since Comcast sent 15 people to the WebRTC Expo in Atlanta in 2013.  It is remarkable that they have been able to deliver a hardware and software platform and an initial set of features in such a short period of time.  Missing elements are live video conferencing and screen sharing.  I expect that there will be a series of rapid upgrades and several other cable operator jumping into the WebRTC pool.


Marketing is Eating IT

May 14, 2014

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By Chris Vitek

Barry O’Sullivan has a great post over at No Jitter today.  Here is the link.  If you work in an enterprise contact centers it is a must-read.   The freight-train like trend is for contact center operations to be reorganized under the marketing operations and away from general operations and IT.  I first observed this happening in the wireless business 9 years ago and it is accelerating.  O’Sullivan sums up the situation pretty well:

We have seen this movie before. The VoIP disruption of 15 years ago was as much about CIOs and networking organizations absorbing pure telecom organizations as it was about the technology. The more recent unified communications convergence led to the merging of desktop and communications teams. And now collision between marketing and the call center will lead to the biggest budget and organizational shift yet. The $300 billion of spend at stake will drive this change, and we need to get ready.

If your contact center is not reporting to the CMO, then O’Sullivan recommends a lunch meeting with the her.  If you look around at what is happening in the data processing business you will find Big-Data at the center of every discussion.  The key transformation that is happening here is that information systems are morphing from record keeping into systems of real-time engagement.  Typically, enterprises begin using Big-Data in areas like manufacturing and logistics.  The lessons learned in these implementations are now being applied to customer interaction.  O’Sullivan sees it like this:

Change is challenging but also represents a huge opportunity. Imagine if each one of your company’s annual call center interactions had a positive impact on your customers’ experience — improving loyalty, net promoter score, churn rates and conversions. Imagine being a part of demonstrating this to your CMO and CEO through precise metrics and good analytical models that are tied to your marketing and brand initiatives.

Marketers are laser focused on providing the most relevant content to the right customers at the right point in the funnel. But your best (and most expensive) content is your people and their expertise. By integrating your call center employees into your organization’s content marketing strategy, you can consistently make the right communications offers to your mobile and Web customers. In addition, you can deliver mobile and Web context to your employees so that they are empowered to help your customers achieve the desired outcome.

This wave of innovation is what has allowed what’s left of American manufacturing to remain on-sure.  The same drivers will allow for the same opportunity for American contact centers.


WebRTC Plugins for IE and Safari

May 12, 2014

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By Chris Vitek

Today Temasys released WebRTC plugins for Internet Explorer and Safari.  They are open source and Temesys appears to be supportive of making it non-proprietary.

Dr. Alex Gouaillard, Temasys’s CTO, points out, “Our solution is as close to pure webRTC as it can be: We extended the webRTC implementation that is used in Chrome and in part by Firefox, ensuring much easier maintenance and interoperability, going forward. Our generic approach to building the plugin helps enable webRTC for everybody, without reverting to older technologies like Flash or java. It is and will not be a proprietary solution that only works with our products. It is and will remain free.”

I am aware of many companies that already have or are working on the same thing.  Some more proprietary than others.  This should cause some deeper thought at MSFT and Apple about the adoption of WebRTC.  They can embrace this or they can continue to seek delays in the final draft of the spec.  By embracing WebRTC they can drive revenue for both WebRTC solutions and solutions that are already within their product portfolio.  By not embracing it they are ceding these revenues to their competitors.  My bet is that it will not take long for MSFT or Apple to grow tired of watching other succeed by leveraging IE and Safari.


Amazon and WebRTC

May 8, 2014

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Posting at No Jitter Today:

Google’s use of Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) in their Chromecast product is well known to industry insiders. What is less well known is Amazon’s use of this same technology in certain new products.

With the introduction of the “Mayday” button on their high-end tablets, Amazon made some waves in the contact center pool last September. Though they have not publicly discussed the underlying technology, it has been confirmed that there are WebRTC components in use. Whatever the source, the fundamentals are real-time audio, video, file transfer and screen sharing. WebRTC makes this possible in a royalty-free financial footprint that reduces the cost of these interfaces by about $35 per end-point.

Read more:


Amazon and WebRTC

May 8, 2014

.

Posting at No Jitter Today:

With the introduction of the “Mayday” button on their high-end tablets, Amazon made some waves in the contact center pool last September. Though they have not publicly discussed the underlying technology, it has been confirmed that there are WebRTC components in use. Whatever the source, the fundamentals are real-time audio, video, file transfer and screen sharing. WebRTC makes this possible in a royalty-free financial footprint that reduces the cost of these interfaces by about $35 per end-point.

Read more:


Snapchat Acquires AddLive WebRTC API

May 5, 2014

 

By Chris Vitek

Snapchat has acquired one of the early adopters of WebRTC, AddLive. Tsahi Levent-Levi at BlogGeek has good coverage here.  This announcement is coincident with Snapchat’s latest update that includes real-time video for android and iOS devices.  Once they offered the update they really could not hide the underlying technology anymore.  Levent-Levi has an interesting perspective that I agree with:

Once existing contracts are over, AddLive won’t renew them and the service will be closed. This will leave customers with the need to select another WebRTC API Platform to use.

This turmoil will definitely affect the selection process developers will be making when selecting a WebRTC API Platform.

Clearly, this will favor larger companies in the WebRTC business as there will be a risk that the smaller players will get bought out by their largest customers.


Avaya Financial Overview at IAUG

April 28, 2014

 

By Chris Vitek

 

This Morning David Vallequette, Avaya CFO, out-lined the financial situation at Avaya.  In a nut-shell they are running at an EBITA of just over a Billion dollars and about half of that goes to debt maintenance.  The good news from my perspective is that they appear to have made some real progress on reducing the interest rates that they are paying on their debt.  Now it is averaging 7.1%.  I am certain that the investors are happy with Vallequette regarding this situation.  Further, Avaya has restructured in a way that allows for better financial results at the lower revenue situation that is plaguing the entire industry.    There are some bright spots in the hosted/cloud space but premise-based solution continue to take a beating.  Avaya appears to have missed their goals first quarter of this year. They are not the only ones in this sector that had this problem.   I think that this will be another challenging year in the communications business.  Avaya continues to make the hard decisions that continue to make them viable.  Let’s hope we can get an uptick in the economy to give Avaya and several other large players in this industry a little relief.