Comprehensive software reviews to make better IT decisions
Coronavirus Lockdown in China Leads to Surge in Web Conferencing Demand
As of Feb. 16, there are an estimated 68,000 people infected by coronavirus in China and 1,600 reported deaths, reports the Singapore Straits Times. With coronavirus having an estimated fatality rate of 2%, many times higher than an average flu, the need to contain the spread of the virus is critical. As a result, many organizations are turning to web conferencing tools to maintain productivity as students, employees, and researchers are staying home.
Immediately after the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations at the beginning of the month, popular workplace collaboration apps DingTalk and WeChat Work crashed when tens of millions of users attempted to kick off their day with virtual morning meetings, reports the South China Morning Post. Both services were restored by early afternoon.
While 24 out of 31 of China’s provinces are under government order to restrict movement, other regions in the country are often voluntarily avoiding large gatherings. In Hong Kong, schools are closed until at least March 2. Teachers are choosing to go beyond just assigning readings and worksheets, with several schools attempting to have a regular lecture experience over Zoom’s video conferencing software or Google Hangouts. A former Hong Kong teacher writes that schools in the region learned to manage remote education during the 2003 SARS outbreak. But now the tools for real-time collaboration are much improved.
Web conferencing is even playing a role in the effort to create a vaccine for coronavirus. State news agency Xinhua reports that researchers will have free access to video conferencing for up to 100 people, provided by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Researchers are already looking at many different existing medicines that could inhibit the spread of the virus.
Source: Web Conferencing Data Quadrant at SoftwareReviews, published Feb. 20, 2020.
Disrupting events like the spread of a new virus or other natural disasters are a reminder that every business needs to have a business continuity process in place, and web conferencing software is a must-have piece of that puzzle. But the need to provide this software goes beyond the “in case of emergency” variety, and web conferencing should be available to employees every day. Studies show that employees value workplaces that allow them some flexibility in working remotely, and it’s hard to imagine doing that well without access to video chat. IT organizations should look at every workday as a potential remote workday and prepare to service employees accordingly.
It’s also a concern that when hit with major demand, some large cloud service providers weren’t up to the challenge. IT departments may want to consider fail-safe options to continue work procedures if the company finds its cloud service provider isn’t available just when it’s needed most.
Want to Know More?
On March 11, 2021, Verizon provided updates to BlueJeans’ product vision and direction for FY2021. BlueJeans experienced dramatic adoption in 2020, particularly for webinars and events, and seeks to offer advanced breakout room features in the future.
On February 24-25, 2021, Zoho held its annual ZohoDay – a conference aimed at communicating the state of the business and product roadmaps. The event coincided with Zoho’s 25th year as a company, testament to Zoho’s long-term business approach: grow organically, have zero debt, zero external investments, remain cashflow positive, and plow cashflow back into the business and customers.
On October 29, 2020, Verizon briefed on BlueJeans’ product vision and direction. This note outlines the new and upcoming features that users can expect from BlueJeans for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. However, with the table stakes margin for features rapidly increasing in the web conferencing marketspace, BlueJeans’ new features are less a way to stand out from the crowd and more as a necessity to keep up.
On November 5, 2020, Cisco briefed on its upcoming virtual legislative session tool Webex Legislate. With a range of features that governing bodies around the globe have desired throughout the extent of the pandemic, Webex Legislate surely becomes the must-have tool for conducting virtual and hybrid sessions – especially if an agency is already leveraging Cisco products.
On September 1, 2020, Info-Tech briefed with Cisco about current and upcoming features of its Unified Webex app for September. Significant changes include the introduction of Cisco Webex Classrooms and the Webex Control Hub, with notable updates also coming to Webex for Education, Webex Meetings, and Webex Teams.
On September 4, 2020, Info-Tech briefed with Zoho about current and upcoming features of Zoho Workplace, a global enterprise collaboration platform. Organizations, especially SMBs, that want to look outside of Microsoft’s and Google’s office productivity suite duopoly should consider shortlisting Zoho Workplace as a viable option.
Enterprise Connect’s virtual conference and expo for 2020 featured a wide variety of sessions on communications and collaboration for the enterprise. In this fourteenth note of fourteen, I report on Recon Research’s latest study on how COVID-19 has cemented web conferencing as the future of the workplace.
Zoho Workplace – a global enterprise collaboration platform – has reported that it is now supporting 15 million users and is experiencing a surge in usage for its business applications. However, compared to Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite, Zoho still has a long way to go in this marketspace.
Google has announced several updates to its G-Suite offering, which aims to heavily integrate and better secure its teamwork applications. The move represents a clear attempt by Google to directly compete with Microsoft’s office productivity suite, with several of the G-Suite updates mirroring the logical architecture of Office 365.