UC Disruption is Imminent

25 Feb 2014

Whatsapp just got acquired. For $19B USD. That's 50 employees. 32 developers. And they had 450 million active monthly subscribers. People tell me UC is alive and well, and so does enterprise video conferencing.

Sure. Whatsapp doesn't do telepresence in full HD. It doesn't even do voice calls. But somehow, people find ways to communicate with it - a lot more than they do with their expensive UC systems.

WebRTC is here as well, and it is going to make things much worse for the incumbents. That 32 developers? They can now add video calling in real time to their mobile-first or mobile-only apps. And it will cost them less to build it from scratch than it would to an incumbent to add it as just another access point.

How do I know WebRTC changes everything? I don't, but I think this is where we're headed.

Thomas Frey, a futurist, writes about the expected collapse of colleges:

"In the past few months the level of experimentation surround college education has shot up considerably, and many are getting considerable traction. A high level of experimentation is always a leading indicator of change even if we don't have a clear view of what it will look like on the other side."

Change "college education" with WebRTC, and you get the drift.

There are now 350 vendors of WebRTC that I am tracking. In just 2 short years, we've got to a point when I just can't stand looking at another one of them video calling services based on WebRTC. They are all different from one another in some aspects, but they also look so much the same. If one does succeed - where will that leave the incumbents?

UC is a market at the brink of some real disruption, and that won't come from the existing players as far as I can tell - they aren't moving fast enough.

If you are a player in this market, here's my shortlist of suggestions to you:

1. Get a team of 4 to look at WebRTC:

  • Front end developer - a wizard in all things JavaScript
  • Back end developer who knows Node.js, Django, Ruby or any of these cool frameworks. Skip Java and C++ please
  • A VoIP guy with an open mind
  • The smart guy that is never satisfied with "how things are done around here"

2. Give them a free hand for 4 months. Let they play with WebRTC to their heart's content

3. Give them $10K USD spending money on whatever online services or SDKs they wish to use

4. When they come up with a solid plan for the future - forget everything you know about your company and listen closely

To succeed with WebRTC, we need to unlearn a few tricks. I am a signaling guy in my roots. Had to throw that out the window when WebRTC came knocking. What are you planning on leaving behind when WebRTC appears in your doorstep?