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Remote conferencing zooms out


The COVID-19 pandemic drove an overnight transformation of a video-link platform into a social network.


Abe Smith

As well as mammoth challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought opportunities – not least to the technology sector. As the world went into lockdown and work, educational and social activities became virtual, videoconferencing app Zoom experienced unprecedented growth. Its user-friendly platform has prompted many businesses to use it as a virtual office, while schools, friends and families have also utilised it in huge numbers globally, according to its operator Zoom Video. The NASDAQ-listed communication technology company recently posted an extraordinary set of financial results indicating revenue rose 169% year on year for the first quarter of 2021, and the number of customers contributing more than US$100,000 in trailing 12-months’ revenue is up 90% year on year. The increase in users is similarly extraordinary. “We are humbled and proud that the usage of Zoom has grown from 10 million daily meeting participants per day in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020 as we work around-the-clock to ensure that businesses, schools, and other users across the world can stay connected and operational during this global pandemic,” said Abe Smith, Head of International at Zoom Video.Bloomberg said in a recent article that Zoom has gone from a conferencing app to the pandemic’s social network. What’s your take?
During this time of isolation, we feel incredibly privileged to be in a position to help people stay connected, whether you are a global corporation that needs to maintain business continuity, a local government agency working to keep your community functioning, a school teacher educating students remotely, or a friend that wants to host a happy hour to spark some joy during social distancing. We also feel an immense responsibility. Usage of Zoom has ballooned overnight – far surpassing what we expected when we first announced our desire to help in late February. To put this growth in context, as of the end of December last year, the maximum number of daily meeting participants, both free and paid, was approximately 10 million. In March this year, we reached more than 200 million daily meeting participants (free and paid). As of April this year, we reached more than 300 million free and paid daily meeting participants, a 50% increase just from March to April.What makes up the Zoom market in Hong Kong?
For Hong Kong, enterprises and schools are definitely the major users of our platform due to the lockdown in the past few months. Working and studying at home has become a new normal in the city. We are glad to support Hong Kong as people transition into new ways of working and learning. What were the biggest challenges the massive jump in users posed for you?
Our platform was built primarily for enterprise customers – large institutions with full IT support. We didn’t design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying and socialising from home. We now have a much broader set of users who are utilising our product in myriad unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived. Zoom takes user-security extremely seriously and as part of our 90-day plan announced in April, we have doubled down on our commitment to security and are working to better identify, address and fix issues.How can we use Zoom more securely?
We’ve been educating users on security best-practices for setting up their meetings, such as avoiding sharing private meeting links and passwords publicly on websites, social media or other public forums, and encouraging anyone hosting large-scale or public events to utilise Zoom’s webinar solution. We strongly encourage all users not to post links to sensitive meetings on public websites and recommend the use of password protection and virtual waiting rooms to ensure uninvited users cannot join. What is good Zoom etiquette?
It is actually similar to offline meetings. Before the meeting, dial in a few minutes before to set up and prepare for the meeting. During the meeting, mute your microphone when necessary and always remember that everyone can see you, so think about your actions on camera. We suggest users turn on their cameras, as your tone, facial expressions, and body language communicate as much as your words do. It adds more emotion when others can actually see your face. Once the pandemic ends, will Zoom go back to being a corporate videoconferencing company, or has the pandemic changed you for good?
Given how quickly our platform is adapting each day to better address all of these new users, we don’t want to speculate too much on what the future holds. For now, we’re focused on helping as many people and businesses as we can stay connected – whether they’re hospitals, schools, financial institutions, governments or users looking to stay in touch with colleagues, friends and family.Related link

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