Virginia Liu serves as Agora’s Senior VP of Marketing and Ecosystems. In her role, she helps energize the different developer ecosystems that we are a part of and uplift our customers’ stories.
What do our daily business interactions typically sound like today?
“Can you see my screen? Sorry, wrong window. Oops, I was on mute.”
While we can collaborate remotely, we certainly haven’t perfected it. We can do better.
How? By embracing digital interactivity that goes beyond just replicating in-person experiences to truly enhancing business transactions and outcomes. With so many aspects of business forced online to avoid total shutdown, the speed of digital transformation for enterprises has skyrocketed this past year, even in typically slower moving industries like healthcare and finance. Core to this change is the evolution of real-time voice and video from real-time communication (RTC) to real-time engagement (RTE).
Moving Beyond Video Conferencing With Real-Time Engagement (RTE)
Modern enterprises need to move beyond the limitations of standard video meetings to foster collaboration more naturally. The shift to an improved collaborative environment removes the awkwardness of trying to screen share and inevitably sharing the wrong tab, needing to adjust the text size, and struggling to see both what you are sharing and your colleagues on the video call.
One option is to directly integrate voice or video directly into your existing application. Instead of needing both your application (such as a CRM, analytics dashboard, or design tool) and a conferencing tool open at the same time—attempting an awkward screen share—multiple users already collaborating on the same file can seamlessly chat via voice, video, or text in real time, improving productivity without the need to schedule a video call.
Real-time engagement (RTE) has also enabled more and more essential business processes to shift from in-person to online. For example, house closings and notarization that used to require in-person meetings can now be performed by services like AtCash which uses interactive video to provide verification and enablement services to legal and financial providers.
Consumer technology often paves the way for enterprise adoption, and new advances like AR, VR, live interactive video shopping, and immersive livestream concert experiences show the possibilities of real-time engagement. Beyond the consumer space, business-focused use cases can use this technology to connect workers for more engaging remote collaboration. As we discussed in a previous article, Real-time engagement (RTE) has three primary pillars: shared context, interactivity at any scale, and ubiquity across all types of devices. Let’s examine together what these pillars mean for enterprises and how they translate to business value.
“I See What You See” Increases Productivity
The most effective collaboration is “context first,” not “video first” like traditional web conferencing applications. Being “context first” will eliminate the awkwardness of attempting to achieve shared context via screen sharing in a web conferencing app. Adding voice and video functionality to existing applications and digital environments is just the beginning. The ability to build AI, AR, and VR capabilities directly into interactive experiences opens up brand new business possibilities for shared context. By removing the limits of physical space and distance, enterprises have the opportunity to fundamentally change the way they operate.
Innovative companies are using the powerful combination of RTE and AR to do work remotely that previously had to be done in person. Wipro, one of Agora’s RTE partners, brings people and expertise together using AR and real-time video to enable remote consultation with experts in a wide range of industries from medicine to aerospace. ARUtility keeps job sites safe by combining AR and Agora’s interactive voice/video to essentially give workers “x-ray vision” to locate utility lines and prevent accidents, saving companies from having to have someone physically visit the site for consultation.
What’s the end benefit? Saved time and cost while increasing productivity. Workers can collaborate more effectively virtually, and eliminate time wasted for work that previously required travel for onsite consultation.
Scalable Human-to-Human Connection Boosts Employee Engagement
Enterprises need the ability to scale interactivity from a one-on-one consultation about utility lines to a company-wide training with thousands of participants across the globe. While large-scale virtual events aren’t new, they are traditionally omni-directional or “one-to-many,” with a host or presenter talking at the large audience. These types of events—digital or in-person—can quickly turn into a boring obligation for employees if they aren’t given the ability to connect and interact. With RTE, these events can become far more compelling and engaging, opening up a world of new possibilities.
For example, Virbela’s platform provides virtual environments like an auditorium or the beach for participants to communicate, collaborate, meet and socialize as avatars at scale. Agora’s SDK enables Virbela to promote dynamic collaboration methods to meet the needs of scaling companies. Organizations can host company-wide meetings, large-scale conferences, and more within Virbela. The ability for everyone to interact regardless of their physical location helps keep employees engaged and productive.
Ultimately, allowing for large-scale, interactive, and multi-directional communication allows enterprises to better engage their employees as well as customers and partners. What used to be a boring 2-hour digital town hall meeting can transform into an exciting interactive experience, boosting employee satisfaction.
Participation on Any Device Fosters Inclusivity
The third essential element of RTE is the ability to engage on any type of device. While smartphones and laptops are the standard, RTE works with next-generation devices from smart TVs to VR headsets, allowing for complete flexibility for how and where people interact.
While VR isn’t new, it previously only allowed users to connect with others who also own VR hardware. Now HTC Vive and Agora have partnered to enable VR live streaming so users can share in the elevated and immersive experience on any device, without requiring a VR headset. With Agora and Unity’s XR framework, it’s easy for developers to build a VR video chat app for use cases from telepresence to practical hands-on training. Because anyone can participate in the immersive VR experience without expensive hardware, enterprises can take advantage of VR’s more engaging environment without having to buy new headsets for everyone.
The Future is Now
While many speculate about the future of digital business, real applications of innovative AR and VR combined with real-time engagement (RTE) are already happening now. The possibilities continue to expand as any connected device can be used in RTE from a video doorbell to a smart fridge. Businesses need to determine how they can start implementing this technology to increase productivity, engagement, and accessibility and inclusivity. Boosting these three metrics keeps established businesses relevant while helping new businesses break through and scale.
Want to learn more about enterprise applications for interactive voice and video? Reach out to us here: Talk to Us