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Meeting Developer Demands with WebRTC and CloudRTC Platforms

| Posted by Peter Crocker Follow 0 Followers on Sep 08, 2015. Estimated reading time: 7 minutes |

 

Developers are quickly adopting WebRTC and cloud communications platforms as vendors bringing to market new offerings with a variety of tools and features. The primary focus of cloud communications platforms is to enable developers to integrate communication capabilities such as voice, messaging, and video chat into their applications using REST APIs and SDK’s. By providing access to communications services through the use of simple web based technologies, cloud communications platforms are abstracting away the complexity of telecommunications infrastructure and making communications much more flexible and extensible. These platforms provide a much larger and more creative population of developer’s access to interconnectivity technology, setting the foundation for an ecosystem that will redefine how we think about communications.

This article is the second part of a two part series with the first published in April that analyzed data from our survey of mobile developers conducted late in 2013 and beginning of 2014. This article compares that data to a survey conducted in April and May of this year as part of our ongoing coverage of the cloud real-time communications platform market.

While connectivity is at the core of CloudRTC platforms, a wide variety of additional services and features that enable developers to manipulate calls and provide greater context around interactions within their apps are also offered. Meeting the demand of developers and providing the appropriate features and services will be key to each platforms abilities to attracting new apps and developers, driving growth.

Shift in Feature Demand

The chart below compares survey data from the 2013/14 research and the data from this year’s survey.

After analyzing the data, a few trends begin to emerge. First is the importance of identity and authentication features. Twenty seven percent of developers were using authentication and identity features in their apps. Unfortunately our 2013/14 study did not ask about authentication and identity features so a year over year comparison is not available. Many apps are deploying authentication features such as 2FA or two factor authentication. Access to contact lists was also very important with 23% of developers accessing contact lists in their applications. This also compares to only 16% in the 2014 study. Applications ability to access contact lists enables them to understand the identity of a user’s contacts and how to reach them.

The second trend is the shift from simple connectivity features to greater demand for collaboration related functionality. Comparing data from 2014 and 2015 shows:

  • Developers integrating video conferencing into their apps increased from 3% to 7%
  • Developers integrating screen sharing features into their apps increased from 6% to 9%
  • Developers integrating file sharing features into their apps increased from 15% to 19%

This growth is also occurring while the demand for simple connectivity features is waning. In 2014 click-to-call was the most popular feature with 28% of developers using the feature but in 2015 that number dropped to 16%. Call transfer features have also lost some popularity with only 6% of developers using the feature vs. 9% in 2014.

We attribute this trend to an increasing focus on how communications in applications can drive greater context and collaboration. App developers can provide greater value to their users by enabling them to communicate without having to leave an app and interact around content and data. The greater availability of mobile SDKs is also helping to drive this trend.

Another interesting observation is the reduction in demand for speech recognition and translating text into speech. Comparing 2014 to 2015 shows:

  • Developers integrating text-to-speech dropped from 21% to 17%
  • Developers integrating speech to text message dropped from 13% to 7%
  • Developers integrating speech recognition dropped from 15% to 9%

While these features are still very important, the drop in the number of developers integrating these features is curious. This may be another indication that developers are more focuses on collaboration than messaging and voice. Potentially this is a short lived trend and as more collaboration features are integrated into apps, collaborators will need to interact in different environments requiring greater communications across text and voice.

Web/CloudRTC Today

Perhaps the most common use of WebRTC and CloudRTC platforms today is the click-to-call button. This feature was the most popular in 2014 and enables developers to integrate a button into their website or app that will connect a user with a customer service rep. This could be as simple as e voice call or a video chat. Amazon’s Mayday button is the most visible application of this technology. The fact that users no longer need to install any plugins to use Google Hangouts in Chrome is also a commonly used feature that is enabled by WebRTC. Users that are signing up for a new service and are required to input a code delivered by an SMS are also using services supporte by CloudRTC platforms.

Growing Verticals Markets

Verticals market such as healthcare and education are helping to drive this shift towards collaboration. The availability of CloudRTC platforms and changes in these industries will provide significant opportunities for both application developers and platform vendors.

Healthcare

The pressure the Affordable Care Act has put on doctors' offices is helping to drive more collaboration into healthcare and change how healthcare is delivered. With greater demand for healthcare enabled by the ACA, doctors and patients are looking for more efficient ways to get and give a diagnosis. Telemedicine start-ups are providing the answer. This market is growing at a 14.3% CAGR and is expected to reach $36.3 billion by 2020 according to Transparency Market Research. TelaDoc is leading the way and recently raised a $100m financing round and is convincing insurance companies to compensate doctors for telemedicine consultations.

As doctors consult with patients they will need access to secure patient records. The ability for CloudRTC vendors to provide secure communications inside health medical records apps provides greater context and better communications. Better communication leads to fewer medical errors.

Companies such as NetMedical and Vsee are innovating in the healthcare communications space to support this changing delivery model. Netmedical is providing a platform that enables a healthcare provider to embed a video conferencing application within their website. Vsee is providing a secure telemedicine platform that enables doctors to consult with patients through their website.

Education

The ability for students to get help with school work whenever they need it will be another important application for in-app communications. With integrated voice and video chat, education apps will be able to connect a student with live tutors for help. This interaction can occur within an application right alongside assigned study material. Cambly is one company that is connecting students with tutors in real time video chats.

Online education programs are growing at 10x the growth of traditional education programs and in-app communications will be able to add the human touch to these programs. The pace at which tablets are penetrating the classroom also provides this generation of students with platforms that are ideal for in-app communications, collaboration, and distant learning.

Moving Forward

The market is moving beyond the simple act of connecting two individuals and innovating around the experience created by that connection. High end toy company Toy Genius is creating an experience where reps can co-browse with customers as well as demo toys while still in a video chat. These concierge like services will help high end retailers differentiate themselves. Another glimpse of tomorrow today can be seen in the app Talko which integrates voice, messaging, and images into a single communications app. The application assumes that users are on the go and provides communicate options based on the environment a user is in, the messages they are trying to convey, or tasks they are trying to complete.

While the market is growing quickly and innovate around communications is emerging, challenges do exist. The imagination of developers is lagging slightly behind the capabilities of platforms. The right tools are coming to market and developers need to think out-of-the-box to understand their use case and apply the right communications path to drive the greatest efficiency and experience. As the world has become more mobile and connected, the way we communicate needs to keep pace.

About the Author

Peter Crocker is the founder and principal analyst at Smith’s Point Analytics, a full service market research and consulting firm focused on the mobile software and cloud services ecosystem. Offerings include thought leadership papers, custom consulting and syndicated research reports.

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