The coronavirus pandemic has turned our working and social lives upside down by forcing millions of people around the world to quarantine in their homes. With all but essential businesses closing, everyone is flocking to ways of connecting online, both to carry on their work and to continue connecting to their loved ones.
As a result, while the majority of companies are suffering during this global crisis, video conferencing companies are thriving. Chief amongst these is Zoom, the Silicon Valley app which hosts video conferencing for groups of up to 99. Zoom consistently tops the download charts on the Apple app store, with some sources claiming the app has been downloaded 2.13 million times in one day, a 3700% increase from their downloads just two months ago.
Why So Popular?
The Zoom Boom of 2020, as it’s already being referred to, is quite a unique phenomenon. Zoom is by no means the only video conferencing app available; Skype has been around a fair while longer — Zoom has been public for less than a year — and was certainly more of a household name before the Coronavirus. Indeed, Skype has enjoyed its own boon: over the last month, daily active users of Skype has risen 70%. Then again, over the last three months, daily active Zoom users rose by 1900%.
So what makes Zoom so much more popular than its competitors? Zak Reno, a tech writer at Writinity and Researchpapersuk, explains that “In part, it’s thanks to an infrastructure that seems purpose-made for a global shutdown. The app was developed with corporate use in mind, so it’s already better set up for remote working in the way that Skype, designed for consumer use, isn’t. Zoom’s array of dedicated settings around content sharing and waiting rooms makes it easy for one responsible person to host an event, allowing for more specific control and smoother user experience.”
Winning Zoom Features
It’s this structure that makes it a fantastic tool for companies looking for virtual conferencing solutions during the pandemic. Zoom has a number of handy features built-in for event hosts that make it easy to plan, run, and follow-up on virtual meetings.
Zoom has an in-app scheduling feature that syncs to your personal and business calendars. Compatible with major calendar apps like Google and Calendly, this allows you to send event invitations to all conference participants with date, time, and joining instructions. You can even allocate scheduling powers to others, meaning assistants can schedule on your behalf.
The next level of the meeting schedule is setting up a recurring meeting. This allows you to create one set of call settings and apply it to a regular meeting, and allows participants to use the same join link every time.
Another benefit Zoom has over competing for video conferencing apps is the amount of information you can collect on attendees. You can ask your attendees to leave their name and contact details to confirm they attended, or to generate an attendee list to connect to meeting minutes.
One feature that has become particularly popular with educators is the annotation function, which allows participants to collaboratively annotate a shared screen image. This allows the meeting participants to work together on visual-based projects remotely, which the meeting host can save and distribute at the end of the meeting.
Zoom provides an innovative way to manage attendee arrivals with the waiting room feature. If you’re hosting a meeting you may not be completely ready at the scheduled time, or participants may join five or ten minutes early to ensure they’ve got a working link. In these instances, rather than having your participants sit on the chat watching you get ready, you can set up a waiting room that holds all attendees until you’re ready to let them in. You can then do so one at a time or all at once.
Without a doubt Zoom’s most notable feature is the hosting functionality. Here one person is “in charge” of the meeting, and has access to more features for running the call and managing attendees. This makes it much more convenient for hierarchical meetings in corporate settings, rather than the ooser casual meetings that are the domain of competing apps. Even better, Zoom has the ability to set more than one meeting host for teams with multiple leaders or for interdepartmental conferences.
The Future Of Zoom?
It’s clear that Zoom is currently winning the video conferencing game, but what does the future hold for this newly-crowned digital king?
The first determinant factor is, of course, the coronavirus pandemic. “There is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding when and even if businesses will be able to go ‘back to normal’,” says Declan Dillan, a blogger at DraftBeyond and LastMinuteWriting. “As a result, it’s almost impossible to predict how businesses will function after coronavirus.”
One thing that is clear is that video conferencing tools like Zoom have become central to businesses carrying out their regular functions. Shareholder meetings, where video calling and remote participation were once an occasional extra, have now begun to be conducted completely online rather than being postponed to an unknown date.
As core business functions are increasingly possible through video calling, they may well stay this way even after the Coronavirus quarantines lift. Customer bases that were once wary of video conferencing technology are now increasingly accustomed to it. Even if we do return to a regular work layout, the efficiency and savings of holding remote meetings are not something businesses are likely to soon forget. With this in mind, I expect this Zoom Boom may continue even into the far future. However, with the uncertainty about now, it’s probably best to concentrate on our current situation, and at least for the time being Zoom isn’t going anywhere.
Cheri Jones is a marketing professional and business-consultant at Luckyassignments and Gum Essays. Sho has been involved in many projects regarding business challenges due to coronavirus, and she likes to help clients to grow their businesses.