From kindergarten sing-alongs to board meetings of Fortune 500 CEOs and even crisis meetings of US senators, thanks to the help of Silicon Valley video conferencing app Zoom a socially distanced world was able to convene in cyberspace. Use of the video platform has skyrocketed with the app being downloaded 2.13m times around the world. In short, this year turned Zoom mainstream.
Now the materialization of potential vaccines around the world is sparking a glimmer of hope in most of us but is likely to wash a wave of dread over the business. The platform can’t rely on people using it if they return to their offices and can meet face-to-face - the need will simply not be there. Zoom now faces the question ‘what next’?
Start from the ground up
If Zoom wants to remain the go-to platform post-pandemic, it needs to take a step back and define what it wants its purpose and position to be in the world. Zoom’s focus, understandably, has been responding to the huge surge in demand - but it’s cost the business the ability to focus on brand.
The platform now has a unique opportunity to take control of its own story. It was there during a time when we most needed to be connected - and for free. No other video platform can take credit for this, it is a title Zoom alone holds. In order to find a home for itself in a post-pandemic world, the business needs to own this unique position. People won’t have completely processed what happened to them yet, but they will. And when they do, Zoom needs to be ready to cement its purpose as the world’s connector. This message can be embedded across its entire brand, including its brand story, digital identity and marketing, and be translatable to shareholders and CTOs to users around the world.
Get security watertight
When the world locked down overnight in March, businesses had to implement mass remote working programs at speed. Many tools were deployed without the usual checks that can be afforded outside of a crisis. Now that businesses have breathing space to reflect on the year gone, many will audit the communication tools they have been relying on over the past eight months and CTOs are going to make decisions on what is healthy for the company long term. We’re going to see platforms banned or sidelined as a new set of rules is written for how employees communicate.
This is a concern for Zoom. Despite handling its rapid growth with relatively few hiccups, the one area that has cast a shadow is security. In fact, it just settled with the FTC over ‘deceptive’ security practices. These are the types of issues that will be taken into consideration when the decisions are made. Zoom must focus on making its security watertight and on proving it is a credible competitor to the likes of Microsoft, otherwise it will fall by the wayside.
Another factor that will play a role in the decision making for businesses choosing their workplace toolkit will be practicality and ease of use. Microsoft made a smart acquisition in Skype back in 2011, as it allowed the tech company to complement its existing set of services, Microsoft Office and Azure Cloud with a workplace communication service - Microsoft Teams.
As Salesforce has proven with its acquisition of Slack, tech companies are laser focused on becoming a one stop shop for all of a business's needs, locking them into an ecosystem in the long term. Zoom currently exists as a standalone product - if it could find a home within an advanced business that both complemented and enhanced its services, it would have a huge chance of success. My money is on IBM, Zoom would bolster its innovation reputation. Watch this space.
In the year that saw Zoom become eponymous with video calling, the brand now has the opportunity to carve out an existence for itself in the world beyond the pandemic. By slowing down and taking stock, the sky’s the limit.