The Covid-19 pandemic has proven that people can work well from anywhere and be more productive and happier, according to a top executive at Zoom Video Communications.
It’s also raised questions around the need for big corporate offices and employment-based immigration, said Harry Moseley, global chief information officer at Zoom (Nasdaq: ZM).
Moseley will talk about the future of work and the next normal at Tampa Bay Tech’s Virtual Summit 2020, a two-day interactive tech conference spotlighting innovative thought leaders and the fast-growing teams and companies in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. The conference, from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Sept. 17 and from 2 to 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 will be free and completely online. See speaker highlights and registration details below.
The St. Pete Catalyst got a sneak peek at Moseley’s thoughts on how Covid-19 has impacted Zoom and its users in an email interview.
Catalyst: Was Zoom prepared for the widespread use it’s gotten since the outbreak of the pandemic? I’m referring to uses well beyond business/office uses, but virtual events, schools, church services and dinners among other things. What steps did Zoom take to gear up so quickly, and what lessons learned from that process can you share with other technology companies?
Moseley: Clearly nobody expected the events we encountered during the first half of 2020. Working and playing as we were accustomed to ground to a halt for many millions of people around the globe. Personal and professional lives and plans were disrupted at a feverish pace and so there was a pivot to leveraging technology platforms.
At Zoom we saw our daily meeting participants rise from 10 million-plus in December 2019 to over 300 million-plus in April. The Zoom platform is different to all others and the fact that we maintained our SLA [service level agreement] of 99.99 percent and CSAT [customer satisfaction] in the 90+ percent is testimony to the robustness of the Zoom technology architecture.
We always have visibility into the sales trajectory and so we have upgrade plans based on that, plus the fact that we always maintain significant capacity above and beyond the expected needs.
Three other factors support this capacity demand:
1) great partners who were able to expedite hardware or network capacity;
2) our ability to move free services to the cloud; and,
3) that we are able to leverage other Zoom datacenters geographically when capacity exceeds the needs of one, e.g., if New York or Washington, D.C. sees a capacity demand in excess of the need we can borrow from Denver or Santa Clara.
In the past, as technology leaders, we have always thought of major events and disasters as being geographically local. However we now need to consider how we plan for global events such as this pandemic. We also need to recognize that the [assumptions] of the past have been proven wrong:
• People can really work very well from home or from anywhere for that matter. In many cases, people are more productive working from home than in the office, are not working longer hours, are getting more done in less time, no longer missing the grind of the daily commute, which ultimately makes them happier.
• Employers now realize they do not need these big corporate offices, that more distributed local offices can work well for their employees and they (employers) can be geographically agnostic with respect to hiring people … no need to relocate and no need for work permits/visas!
Catalyst: The widespread use of Zoom has provided a crash course in technology for many non-techie people who likely never anticipated being online in this way. What is your perspective on the societal impact of so many people becoming more tech-savvy so quickly?
Moseley: With the onslaught of mobile technology which began over 10 years ago we saw consumers become more technically savvy. This change has continued, look at the various solutions we have today but are now second nature: how we call a “taxi,” book a flight, make a dinner reservation, order groceries, shop for stuff … it is a digital world. Look at millennials and Gen-z, they only know a digital world, a mobile-first world, a video-first world. I think the biggest group of people who had a change was our seniors who were comfortable in their ways and they had to adapt quickly and they did, fortunately for all of us. So in short, I do not think people had to become more tech-savvy quickly. They were already savvy. They did however have to use new tools not previously part of their daily repertoire.
Catalyst: Zoom clearly has been a disruptive technology. What technologies do you think might disrupt Zoom?
Moseley: This really is a great question! Wish I had a crystal ball. Zoom has seriously changed the professional and personal behaviors forever. My expectation is that we will see many other adjacent innovations coming to play in the Zoom sand pit to support efforts on collaboration in the hybrid model (people in the office, people everywhere else) and on the cultural front, new hires, creating the environment for unplanned meetings, AI [artificial intelligence] to introduce breaks in the day, suggest things to do versos things not to do. The technology capabilities we have today are quite amazing and are improving all the time at exponential speeds. All this said differently, I believe we will see adjacent technology innovations to further accelerate the Zoom capabilities.
Other featured speakers and keynotes at the Tampa Bay Tech summit include Jacky Wright, chief digital officer of Microsoft U.S.; Jason Warnke, global digital experiences lead at Accenture; and Scott McKenzie, global head, intelligence unit, at Nielsen.
Thursday morning will include a panel discussion among women in leadership at Tech Data. On Friday afternoon, there will be a CEO2CEO interactive discussion featuring Scott Price, A-LIGN CEO, and Greg Ross-Munro, Sourcetoad CEO. There also will be a kid-friendly “Camp Zoomitude” session on Friday afternoon for parents working remotely with children at home.
See the complete agenda and registration details here.