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How Mobile Apps are Changing Real-Time Communication for SMBs

Today’s mobile apps have altered the communication landscape not just for individuals but also for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

These applications empower employees, employers and consumers to communicate in a moment’s notice. Apps allow each of these three parties to connect with each another, not only through their voices but also through video and P2P file sharing. Mobile access also helps executives stay on top of vital marketing information at any given moment.

Can you imagine connecting to business associates and customers with crystal clear audio right through your web browser? This pie in the sky dream is quickly becoming a reality thanks to people like Robert Beagle. One of the darlings of the emerging mobile apps is called WebRTC.

The app was created by Beagle and his team at Voxeet. They wanted to create a mobile app that changed how business communicated. Instead of accepting the pitfalls of traditional conference calls, Beagle and his group decided to create WebRTC. Beagle describes his creation as a plugin made for browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome that enables browser-to-browser applications to engage in real time via voice, P2P file sharing and video. This technology lets web users connect with others from their browsers based on similar interests or pre-existing relationships. For example, if a restaurant manager in Ohio “likes” a tomato sauce on a website, he can be instantaneously connected to other business owners who have also “liked” that ingredient. The magic of this technology is that it occurs right from the user’s browser. This communal feature of online interactions is the future of mobile applications.

Technologies like WebRTC are light years ahead of conventional communications like conference calls that have range limitations, static and a slew of other problems. Aside from WebRTC, Beagle’s company, Voxeet, is combining the strengths of peer to peer communication with those of the client to server mode. Their technology connects clients to a server à la client-to-server, but streams coming from each participants are carried without modification to the others à la peer-to-peer. This allows us to get the best of both worlds, with low operating costs and great security and control.

Yet WebRTC is only the tip of the app iceberg. Gartner.com reports that 102 billion apps were downloaded in 2013 and other than games, many of the rest were intended to improve the quality and efficiency of real time communications. 94 percent of small business mobile device users agreed that mobile technology makes them more efficient — and 67 percent said that their organizations would lose competitive ground without those devices.

Business owners and managers should consider Quip, an app that works on both the Android and the iOS. Quip lets employees collaborate on documents with the help of colleagues. This is perfect for business users who need to work on drafts and edits in real time, and keep in touch with constant updates. Quip reduces e-mail, phone calls and text messages as it can be configured to send automatic updates to project participants as soon as the project is amended. Employees can also work with Quip while offline as they can create attachments that can later be uploaded when there is access to a network.

Another breakthrough mobile app that has captured the attention of businesses is called HipChat. HipChat works on the Android, iOS and traditional computers as well. This app lets a team of workers send messages to one another on an individual basis or to an entire group. It works to make communication more effective and reduce the number of e-mails.

With the company’s desktop, mobile, and web apps, everyone in your business can readily be available to participate in a chat. While most messaging services require that subscribers pay for a server that needs to be maintained, HipChat has no such hurdles. HipChat is actually free for businesses that will have five or fewer employees using it and only $2 per month for each additional employee.

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