‘Zoom Was Not Prepared For What Happened Last Year’

‘Zoom Was Not Prepared For What Happened Last Year’
“To be honest with you, Zoom was not prepared for what happened last year,” Raagulan Pathy, head of enterprise, APAC at Zoom Video Communications confessed during Future Worktech Forum 2021.
  • Zoom’s head of enterprise explains how it built a resilient business.
  • The company plans to remain remote working to ‘practice what it preaches’.
  • Workspaces must now prepare to enable ‘hybrid meetings’ or ‘Bring Your Own Meeting’. 

In December 2019, there were approximately 10 million daily participants on Zoom. A few months later, this figure was closer to 300 million.

“To be honest with you, Zoom was not prepared for what happened last year,” according to Raagulan Pathy, head of enterprise, APAC at Zoom Video Communications. And, to be fair, how could they? 

Yet, the company went from strength to strength during the pandemic. Speaking during the 3rd Future Worktech Forum 2021 – APAC Edition, Pathy revealed how the company adapted and grew to become the go-to communication platform of the last 12 months for both individuals and businesses – and why it’s now embracing hybrid work.

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From corporate banks employing hundreds of thousands of staff to remote healthcare and the 100,000 schools using Zoom to conduct their lessons, everyone had to pivot their business models during the pandemic.

“If it wasn’t for the CIO, the change that was required wouldn’t happen, but we saw two types of CIO,” Pathy said, during the 3rd Future Worktech Forum 2021 – APAC Edition, which was a virtual event held on the 17th and 18th of March. 

Pathy gave an example of JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Citibank, three of Zoom’s customers who went from having no Zoom offering – or maybe a small deployment for a few thousand users – to having a bank-wide deployment in a matter of weeks – sometimes days. This is because their businesses had an innovative mindset where changes happened “because they recognised this is what users wanted”.

This is an important ethos for the world’s shared workspaces, where resilience is, according to Pathy, requires a mix of speed and adaptability. But what technologies and trends should coworking spaces focus on, going forward?

Embrace BYO – securely

“When you see people using alternate tools and technologies, it’s because there is a need,” according to Pathy. For flexible workspaces, this means allowing people to use their own devices – albeit in a secure and compliant manner for your space.

“Connecting people is also important for providing continuity,” Pathy added, explaining how Zoom had to not only cope with burgeoning demand for its product during the pandemic – but also move its 3,000+ staff to remote working.

Zoom came under scrutiny for its security during this period of mass adoption – something the company prioritised, pausing any new feature releases and implementing a security plan in 90 days.

This is a key point for workspaces as they start to reopen – it’s vital to get the right network security policies in place to protect members when they’re using your space. As more companies embrace hybrid work policies, the number of corporate users (with their own company-wide security policies) will increase. 

“We do believe that the future is a hybrid scenario,” Pathy said, but this will have a huge impact on corporate cultures and unleash a new range of challenges not just from a technological perspective but also from a legal, logistical and talent acquisition perspective.

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This will be a difficult balancing act, but agility is key when looking for the right technical solutions for your space – as well as remembering to give your members solutions that they actually need as we enter the hybrid world of work. 

Pathy added: “Listen to your employees, customers and community. Progress is not perfection. Don’t wait five years or even two years to have the perfect solution. Think about how you can progress your company forward today, move fast and make it work.”

Say hello to hybrid meetings

So, what sort of measures do workspace providers need to put into place? Also speaking at the event, Marc A. Rémond, vice president of sales, meeting and learning experiences, Asia Pacific at Barco, explained the notion of a ‘hybrid meeting’.

“A hybrid meeting is a meeting where face-to-face attendees connect virtually with remote attendees in a way that all participants feel equally engaged,” Rémond explained. “There is going to be an investment in video technology, moving forward, to enable hybrid meetings.”

This is not without its challenges, especially as most people want to use their own devices to attend or run these meetings. “The laptop has become the window to the world,” Rémond added.

It’s important for workspaces to have the right technology to facilitate this new breed of hybrid meeting. Common challenges include the audio and video quality of the meeting – where laptop speakers, microphones and integrated webcams often fail to provide a high-quality experience. Plus, there is the usual tangle of wires to navigate as you try to plug in your laptop to the meeting room’s projector – often to find the one cable you need is missing.

To overcome these challenges, workspaces should prepare for a new trend: Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) where a member simply walks into a workspace, plugs in a USB dongle, and starts the conference. Your laptop should then be wirelessly connected to the meeting room display and audio.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, Barco has already developed this technology, calling it ClickShare.

This is just one example of one technology that flexible workspaces need to start evaluating to gain a competitive advantage and provide a seamless experience as the world of work is now grounded in the digital world. There are bound to be plenty of ‘new’ technologies promising to optimise your workspace for the new hybrid world of work.

“When I joined Zoom, a lot of people asked me about AR, VR and all these virtual ways of living,” Pathy explained. “But there’s so much that hasn’t been solved about how people want to live today.”

That’s what workspaces need to focus on – optimising the member experience, not spending vast amounts of money and time getting all the latest gadgets into a workspace. 

“If we think about how people want to live their daily lives and the quality of life they now want and have experienced [thanks to remote working] and what does that mean for the technology that they demand and what the workspace will look like, moving forward,” Pathy concluded.

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