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Facebook Steps into Video Conferencing Ring

May 27, 2020

By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Virtual PBX Contributor

In the leadup to the COVID-19 pandemic, global workplaces were already changing how they communicated. Legacy telephone systems were being replaced by voice over IP and unified communications. Business enterprise solutions were moving to the cloud. Video conferencing was replacing costly business travel. COVID-19 has sped up the process, inducing businesses to find different ways to communicate with, engage and manage their employees. Platforms such as Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams have seen enormous surges in adoption and use. In addition, more people have become accustomed to communicating via social media, not only with friends and family, but also with the companies with which they do business.

“When social media started, it was more relevant to users who wanted to exchange personal information or common interests with each other, and businesses rarely came into that equation,” wrote Anirudh Menon for Tech Funnel. “However, social media communication has increased among businesses and has changed the dynamics of how businesses communicate internally and externally. Social media is one of the most important communication channels for businesses. Companies that are serious about reaching customers can’t afford to invest in it.”

Facebook appears poised to enter the competitive landscape for virtual communications. The social media giant recently announced new features to Workplace, its unified communications and collaboration platform, in an effort to better compete with platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The addition of video chat has led to the creation of a feature called Workplace Rooms, which will offer unlimited meeting time and allow users to connect with up to 50  people, even if they don’t have a Workplace account. The originator of the meeting can share links with other participants, who can open a virtual workplace from an email or chat message.

“We’re using the same technology from the recent Messenger Rooms announcement and adapting it to the enterprise, transforming video collaboration for businesses,” wrote Facebook in a blog post.

Meeting organizers can remove unauthorized participants and “lock” the session so that hackers cannot enter, avoiding “Zoombombing” situations that has seen trolls and hackers disrupt Zoom meetings. Facebook says its Workplace Rooms will be available for free to all workplace customers until December 2020.

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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