It is a cold wet New Year’s day and I’m sitting in front of the fire thinking about what 2014 has in store for the communications industry.
Web meets telephony
I’m pretty sure when we look back in a few years time, 2014 will be seen as the year when the web and telephony really started to collide in a non-trivial way.
2014 will be the year that WebRTC gets out into the real world. In doing so it will finally move voice and other real time media interaction away from a model that requires their delivery a “special” service with dedicated devices and applications.
This isn’t a pure technology collision. Lots of folks are working (too?) hard to make sure that WebRTC can just bolt onto existing communication networks as a sort of web delivered softphone. Nothing to frighten the horses there and in fact it could stem falling use of traditional phone systems by providing new accessibility and features.
Freeing up real time communication and moving it into the realm of rapidly developed universally available web applications and even the Internet of Things will be the biggest step change on the web itself in decades. This may complement some telephony applications, but also sidetrack those that are less quick to evolve!
Is this the year Video finally makes it in business?
No, or rather yes but to share ideas not talking heads.
Video does augment some kinds of call and has it’s uses, but lack of non-verbal cues in pure audio calls is also seen as plus by many even where video is available! The benefits of video have never been profound enough to make it a game changer and given the non-trivial costs of current video calling despite all the noise it still only tends to get used in limited circumstances. Even in our own products which have had video switching in the core at zero incremental cost for many years now, and with support from excellent end-points from Polycom and Yealink which make video calling as simple and intuitive as audio calls, only a tiny fraction of implementations routinely use video calling.
Wide availability of tools to communicate ideas via screen and media sharing is a different matter and that is a game changer that I think will start gaining some traction this year.
Whatever 2014 holds, it is going to be an exciting year!