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I was in a meeting the other day when a colleague received a FaceTime request from her daughter. Video communications like this have moved from futuristic to routine, both at work and at home. However, this trend of embedding video into applications is still mostly true for the consumer world.
I am not talking about video conferencing. We don't have video conferences with support agents. I'm talking about visual interactions using apps, websites and even devices. Unfortunately, the business world still thinks video is for executives.
Amazon surprised the world in 2013 when it introduced Mayday on its Kindle. In this case, a low-cost consumer gadget differentiated itself with high-quality, video-enabled support. But that approach of embedding video is still rare.
Contact centers used to be all about calls. Today, the buzzword is omnichannel, which adds chat and email, but rarely video. Text-based interactions have their benefits, but video offers the highest level of engagement. It's odd because the whole migration to omnichannel is about customer engagement.
Video makes headway, but adoption lags
The barriers to video are falling. The primary obstacle was cost, but that's no longer the case. Telephone calls can actually be more expensive. The second barrier is complexity -- and, suddenly, that barrier is disappearing.
Embedding video into an application or workflow has not been easy. Video expertise, the associated software and network capacity are all expensive. However, the API model looks to overcome those challenges.
Communications platform as a service simplifies communication integration and eliminates the need to buy expensive equipment.
API services from Twilio and others, such as Nexmo and Kandy, collectively created the communications platform as a service (CPaaS) model. CPaaS simplifies telephony and messaging by hiding complexity behind APIs. Developers can now access communications with just a few keystrokes.
The technology has expanded telecom, but video adoption still lags -- largely because of WebRTC complications. WebRTC emerged about six years ago as an open source, free video technology. It took a few years to get the kinks out, but the technology is now available, and video has never been more accessible.
WebRTC, like many other open source technologies, is complex and only part of an overall system. WebRTC doesn't simplify interoperability, nor is it optimized for mobile use cases.
WebRTC is making the world more picturesque, but its existence alone -- as a technology stack or as a service -- has yet to make its mark. The vast majority of business applications are still without video. It's a noteworthy failure, considering all smartphones, tablets and laptops have cameras, and many businesses are clamoring for differentiated engagement.
Progress on the horizon for embedding video
Video communications provider Vidyo recently introduced Vidyo.io, a CPaaS for video services. Many people associate Vidyo with its enterprise video conferencing, but that's just one application created on its VidyoWorks platform. Companies such as Alibaba, Bloomberg and Google have used VidyoWorks to video-enable their services and devices.
Vidyo.io provides access to the company's development tools as a service without any upfront investment or commitment. The service offers a range of video technologies via its APIs and software development kits, including H.264, H.265, scalable video coding (SVC) and advanced video coding. A WebRTC suite is also available, including VP8 and VP9 codecs.
Vidyo's SVC technology, which is otherwise protected under patent, is well-suited for mobile video applications because of its tolerance to intermittent networks. One of the hardest parts of multiparty video is the inclusion of mobile users. Vidyo's service simultaneously supports low-quality, battery-efficient streams and high-quality streams where conditions permit.
Twilio is also upping its video game. Last year, Twilio acquired Kurento to supplement its programmable video service. Kurento's expertise in scalability, transcoding, recording and advanced media processing should improve Twilio's WebRTC-focused offer.
Embedding video via CPaaS is more than improved customer service and will extend into field services, telehealth and enterprise team collaboration. It will be exciting to see what happens as the technology becomes more accessible.
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