The coronavirus pandemic has irrevocably shifted the workforce, forcing many professionals to adapt to remote work. Due to this necessity to maintain social distancing, traditional workplaces and in-person meetings have been scrapped for new alternatives. Thus, they set out looking for the best video conferencing and collaboration tools to get work done.
One software platform was the clear winner in this race, Zoom. In March 2020, Zoom's daily active users jumped from 10 million to over 200 million in just 3 months. Apart from businesses, 90,000 schools across 20 countries use Zoom's video conferencing services to conduct classes remotely, with many students today, high school and university, even graduating over the platform.
However, with so many people around the globe using the app, privacy concerns started creeping in. Vulnerabilities were found in Zoom's security as hackers tried to steal customer data and sell their information on the "dark web." Through tactics such as phishing and "zoombombing," where cyber attackers sneak their way into public and even password-protected Zoom meetings to garner an organization's sensitive data.
Additionally, though Zoom provides many in-meeting collaboration tools, today's businesses often need more than what it has to offer.
"Though additional team collaboration capabilities are possible on Zoom with third-party integration, many companies are starting to crave native features," said Jeffrey Singman (News - Alert), SVP Cloud Communications Sales from Kandy, a cloud-based, real-time communications platform. "For example, Zoom doesn't offer native basic task management features, makes it difficult to co-edit and synch documents in real-time during a meeting, and doesn't let multiple people collaborate on a whiteboard."
While Zoom is by no means "not all bad," enterprises and managed service providers today are opting for their own branded, fully secure collaboration environments to drive remote work. For reasons such as meeting time, meeting size, overall tools at their disposal, and security, organizations are finding alternative options from Zoom to be better suited to their company's needs and expectations.
To start, many organizations looked for a more secure collaboration platform. More size, time, and tools are important, but none of those features truly matter if the platform isn't secure enough to keep a company's data safe from potential cybercriminals. Platforms such as Microsoft (News - Alert) Teams, Signal, Jitsi, and others all come with better cybersecurity aspects, which both protect businesses themselves while also giving organizations the tools necessary to protect themselves from the myriad of threats on the internet.
"Many collaboration platforms today offer end-to-end encryption for users while communicating with other users, making sure only those communicating can see the messages or video happening," said Singman. "2FA security, data encryption, and dozens of national, regional, and industry-specific security/privacy compliance regulations being met are just some of the other security facets that more serious enterprise collaboration platforms have to offer, especially for highly regulated vertical industries."
Secondly, businesses today are branching out from Zoom with the purpose of finding and using collaboration platforms in which they have more tools to leverage during this time of remote work. Project management is one of the features today's new collaboration platforms are trying to perfect compared to Zoom. Features found in platforms like Asana, Trello, and Toggl Plan, such as task status updates, file sharing, and progress visualization charts, give organizations better control over their daily planning and tasks.
Another feature is the whiteboard, which allows multiple users to brainstorm and jot down ideas together while remotely working. With Zoom, users tend to forget to save their whiteboard in a breakout room, don't know how to share their screen, and on top of this, Zoom's annotation options are limited, acting more like annotating a prepared slide rather than working on a live whiteboard. Some platforms, such as Miro, Stormboard, and Mural, give users more freedom when it comes to their whiteboard applications.
"New collaboration platforms today are making sure they give users more flexibility when it comes to using the whiteboard, trying their best to make remote work whiteboarding almost as good as being in the same room with the papers on hand," said Singman. "Features such as unlimited canvas space, the ability to attach files for reference, more presentation options, and accessibility from mobile devices are leveling the playing field for collaboration platforms that didn't see the same growth Zoom did during the quarantine."
Finally, some collaboration platforms are making themselves look more enticing by offering better time and size options for virtual meetings. A free Zoom subscription allows up to a max of 100 participants in a 40-minute time interval. However, new platforms, such as BlueJeans, Webex, and GoToMeeting, are increasing the amount of users a session can hold and increasing the amount of time as well. Some offer groups of up to 250 people, while other platforms allow for 24-hour long sessions if necessary.
As the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel begins to shine, more workers are headed back to offices, but some form of remote work and video conferencing is here to stay. And while Zoom might be the biggest name in the game right now, Singman explains that moving forward, businesses should consider all collaboration platforms options when looking to optimize their remote work.
"The digital workplace is all about the employees' ability to do their job by collaborating, communicating, and connecting with others," said Singman. "The goal is to forge productive business relationships within and beyond natural work groups and to enable knowledge sharing across the organization while keeping the channels of communications not only open but high quality with consistent experiences that don't frustrate end-users. Keeping confidential, sensitive, and valuable data safe must happen in parallel."
Edited by Luke Bellos