Programmable video APIs aiding developers from Vonage
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
We recently caught up with Savinay Berry and discussed how programmable video APIs are aiding developers in driving positive CX brand experiences in 2024, the common challenges devs face when implementing video, how developers can leverage APIs to eliminate heavy lifting, and tons more.
Savinay Berry, EVP Product and Engineering at Vonage, explains how Vonage's programmable video APIs are aiding developers to drive positive CX brand experiences, how to overcome the challenges developers face when tasked with implementing video, how you can leverage APIs to eliminate heavy lifting and manage the data for you, how they implemented flexible AI transformers to interpret or manipulate videos, the security measures they put in place for banking and healthcare industries, and the roles real-time video engagement plays in a brand’s customer experience.
ADM: Why do you believe some providers are distancing themselves from specific communications channels, like video? Is video still a critical channel for consumer engagement?
Berry: Some providers make the decision to prioritize specific communication channels over others, which could mean distancing themselves from options like video. Business considerations such as budget and investor priorities can influence decisions regarding which products require more attention to align with the provider’s strategic direction.
However, video has become a focal point of most people’s personal and professional lives, when it comes to communication today. For that reason, video will continue to be a major driver of a meaningful customer experience - improving brand perception, increasing customer loyalty, and creating more efficient conversions. Video sees such success because it enables a much more human experience for customers and allows for personalized mobile or web experiences from literally anywhere. As a result, we have seen many thousands of exciting video use cases across industries, including healthcare, medical devices, education, remote learning, augmented-reality interfaces, remote-expert services, robots, financial advising, online events, online shopping, and more!
Programmable video APIs to aid developers in driving positive CX experiences in 2024
Vonage has been in the video API business since 2007 and we were one of the first to go all-in on WebRTC in 2012. This gives us a unique perspective on the evolution of video, with an extensive video customer base that we are committed to, and we extend a warm welcome to all organizations seeking the most mature and versatile programmable video platform for their applications.
ADM: For developers tasked with implementing video, what are common challenges?
Berry: Implementing video can present challenges for developers at all levels. A few hurdles include accounting for cross-browser and device compatibility and implementing sophisticated multi-party WebRTC applications. Continuously ensuring video apps work across various browsers and devices can be challenging due to rapid platform changes. What we have seen with our own developer network is the need to do this on behalf of all developers by continuously testing against new releases. Simple one-to-one video applications are straight-foward, but sophisticated multi-party video applications can take some work, which is where a low-code solution comes in that can automate optimization around resolutions, bandwidth, layout etc.
ADM: How can developers leverage APIs to more easily implement video? What role do no code / low code tools play?
Berry: APIs already act as a toolkit for developers that helps eliminate the heavy lifting, such as "translating" and managing the data that apps need to perform key tasks. Video APIs streamline the distribution of video to various channels, devices, and regions and automate the encoding and transcoding processes to ensure optimal format and quality for seamless streaming. By leveraging video APIs, developers can focus on their application design and not worry about how their video is packaged, routed, and delivered across the world.
Low-code tools provide a higher level of abstraction where even more work is automatically taken care off - such as automated layout on the screen when there are many participants, and optimizing the resolution and priority of each stream every time its size on the screen changes - where more or less detail is needed. This allows web developers without detailed video knowledge to quickly build sophisticated applications with “well-behaved” embedded video.
ADM: Vonage was one of the first programmable video providers on the market, how is the company continuing to enrich that offering for developers?
Berry: Vonage recognized cloud-based trends such as video early on and prioritized establishing a robust, programmable communications platform. By acknowledging the value of programmable video, we’ve ensured that developers have access to a straightforward, adaptable, and scalable programmable video solution, enabling them to craft engaging, embedded communication experiences and we’re always looking to create more flexibility for developers in how they craft applications.
AI is a key technology for video and we have opened up media processing of streams, in browsers and on devices, allowing developers to use flexible AI transformers to interpret or manipulate the video. We use this for immediate features like blur and backgrounds, but developers can use this for many advanced use-cases, such as augmented reality apps, entertaining video effects, and people location and movement detection, as needed for example, in healthcare remote patient monitoring. We have also added server-side selectable audio connections to AI engines to support captions, transcription, translation, sentiment analysis and more.
Another video innovation is our Experience Composer that dynamically captures a full web experience - all the on-screen widgets and layout, not just the video streams - for immediate use in broadcasts and recordings. And speaking of this - we have supported broadcasting for over seven years now with up to 15,000 WebRTC viewers plus then millions through HLS and RTMP to all the major social video streaming platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook. And our roadmap list goes on - multiple video updates every year with further AI, performance, quality, compliance, developer tools, new SDKs, and other capabilities. We are truly "hard core" about video!
ADM: What role do you think real-time video engagement plays in a brand’s customer experience?
Berry: Video grabs customers' attention and boosts engagement, particularly on social channels. Real-time video engagement can play a role in a brand’s CX in several ways:
- Product Explanations and Instructions: Video explanations can go a long way toward helping a customer understand the use case or value of a specific offering. Instead of reading a lengthy or convoluted written explanation, the customer can talk to an expert over video, often in less time. Once the customer receives the product, they might find it helpful to have a clear visual walk-through available on demand to get their product up and running immediately.
- Solving Customer Problems: If a business has already turned customer communication into conversation and already has a thorough understanding of the pain points customers face, then the business can proactively address those problems in a helpful explainer video or live video chat. This form of visual engagement prevents customers from digging up the solution themselves in knowledge bases or customer forums.
- User-to-user Consultations: All the well known telehealth, tutoring, remote education, and shopping use cases are all essentially “consultations” between users, usually one of them being an expert, and often none of the users work for the company which is providing the application platform. So the CX here IS the product that the platform company is delivering. Every industry has major platform vendors who sell to many enterprises, and who need video and other APIs to deliver these services, carefully embedded within an extensive healthcare, education, eCommerce or financial platform.
- Testimonials: A testimonial from a satisfied customer carries a lot of weight. When you invite a customer to share their experience with your company in a short video session, that firsthand testimony has a better chance of inspiring conversions.
ADM: You mentioned Vonage survey results that indicated 32% of consumers prefer using video for doctor appointments. Do you foresee this trend continuing in 2024? What other industries do you think will turn to video for customer engagement?
Berry: Telehealth has played a key role in advancing healthcare and has become a commonly used frontline medical practice. Many consumers have adapted to telehealth since the pandemic, deeming it a comfortable and convenient way to interact via video. Video APIs have helped develop impactful telehealth experiences and applications embedded directly at the point of care. As consumers have grown accustomed to this method of communication – and some even prefer it over in-person visits now – we expect this trend for “hybrid” healthcare, where you use both video and in-person according to need, to continue in 2024. And this is apart from the tremendous opening up through video of healthcare access in rural and remote regions and countries that the pandemic considerably accelerated.
The travel and hospitality industry will also likely look to video to help drive positive customer experiences and engagement. More consumers are referencing videos while planning trips to find restaurants, hotels, and places to visit abroad. Another industry that will turn to video in 2024 is finance and insurance, two areas that must be readily available for customers everywhere. Video can be leveraged to make financial topics more accessible, allow face-to-face dialog with clients on issues that need resolution, and speed up insurance claims processes. And in eCommerce we are also seeing video consultations and selling for high-value items that may start by marketing through social messaging, such as WhatsApp, then become a AI chatbot conversation to learn more about a product, then become a live agent messaging interaction, and then with the click of a link become a video session to close a high-value sale.
ADM: For industries like banking and healthcare, how are you ensuring compliance and security of video engagement?
Berry: It is crucial for API providers to invest heavily to ensure compliance and security with video across all industries, especially banking and healthcare. This includes meeting standards like HIPAA, SOC2 Type II, and GDPR, but also a myriad of in-depth selectable features such as end-to-end encryption, even through media servers, encrypted-at-rest recordings with minimal retention, and media isolation for a range of different regions around the world. For example, did you know that for some countries, such as Germany, you need to control media isolation down to the country level, beyond just the EU region, to meet compliance requirements? Interestingly, a video API needs no “PII / PHI” user information at all, it is just manipulating video streams, so if all the content in the video streams is protected, then this ensures customers can achieve their compliance goals!
Going beyond video itself, we strongly recommend that our customers protect access to their applications with APIs for two-factor authentication (2FA). This is extremely important for the business side of the conversation where a lot of information is visible to doctors, therapists, financial advisors, online sales specialists, etc. But it is also important for consumers themselves as they increasingly rely on healthcare, finance and shopping apps to access a wealth of personal data. To meet global needs, APIs that provide authentication workflows across SMS, WhatsApp, Voice and Email are able to better match changing consumer channel preferences.
ADM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Berry: Vonage remains very excited about the importance of video APIs, as we have been for over sixteen years. We look forward to hearing from companies and developers as they consider their choices for a stable, experienced API provider going forward.
About Savinay Berry
As EVP, Product and Engineering, Savinay Berry is responsible for global leadership of Vonage’s engineering, product management, IT, and security teams, focused on driving the Company’s technology strategy and innovation of the Vonage Communications Platform (VCP) and its portfolio of solutions. Overseeing both product and engineering, Berry is committed to driving growth at Vonage by delivering communications solutions that empower customers to advance their business objectives by changing the way they work, connect and engage.
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