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Your platform, or mine?

As remote working becomes the new norm, the first and most tricky stumbling block is the choice of which video-conferencing platform to use.
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With businesses and teams scrambling to adjust to the strange new reality of remote working during the coronavirus crisis, many of us are finding that we are more tired – and yet less productive – during the (long), locked-down days.

While much of this can likely be attributed to screen-time fatigue and family responsibilities, there is also a case to be made that we are not using the many available tools and platforms as efficiently as we may think.

Yet this should hardly come as a surprise, when many of these virtual, enterprise-grade tools were initially designed for CIOs and dispersed IT teams (and introverts who got squeamish at the thought of office meetings and soggy biscuits at the conference table).

But soggy biscuits aside, why are we not gliding smoothly along with such a plethora of virtual communication tools on offer? While no one could have predicted the scale of this crisis (and the ensuing lockdown), platform designers were certainly predicting a global shift to increased remote working.

Arguably, our first and most tricky stumbling block is the choice of platform – and in today’s environment – the choice of which video-conferencing platform to use. The less assertive among us often have the platform dictated by clients or colleagues, in which case you have to make sure you’re up to speed with the latest version of the platform and its features (don’t let that sudden, once-daily flash of insight go to waste because mute was automatically turned on, fyi…)

Despite the reports of hideous ‘Zoombombing’ attacks on users, Zoom is not malware and is a stable and secure platform.

Apart from what I term the ‘fragmentation’ of platforms (ie, too many being used, so that teams are constantly floundering from one to another with little mastery), there is also the issue of fragmentation of time.

Due to our newfound over-reliance on virtual meetings, for many of us, our days are now consumed by large blocks of meeting time – during which it is tough to take notes, ask concise questions, and actually process all the information being received. For this, I recommend that teams and leaders start to make use of transcription tools, as well as voice recording, to ensure meetings are actually captured – and you can work through the information in your own time…without the pressure of other talking heads on your screen.

Then, of course, we have to address the rather alarming threat of cyber criminals and the purported weaknesses in some of the platforms. Already, many of the more tech-oriented companies or moving away from Zoom, for example, because of concerns over security. This is a more than slightly unfair reaction, as Zoom’s security is arguably just as robust as the other ‘mainstream’ video calling platforms out there.

Online security most often comes down to the user’s awareness and effort – and most users are too lazy to go the extra mile and create the PIN or password that would make video-conference meetings that much more secure. (Despite the reports of hideous ‘Zoombombing’ attacks on users, Zoom is not malware and is a stable and secure platform.)

I recommend that business leaders and managers up the ante on their cyber awareness training and initiatives now – because the reality is that cyber criminals are capitalising on the crisis, and users are arguably more vulnerable working from home (and out of sight of IT teams which would usually be patrolling their virtual borders for them).

Now, Zoombombing trolls and productivity bugbears aside, businesses should be taking a hard look at their various customer channels – web chats, e-mail, call centres, social media, etc – and finding ways to integrate them all into their own (hopefully multichannel) backend system.

The key here is to enable the customer to use the channel of his or her choosing, and still receive the service and responses they desire. For example, WhatsApp is one of the most widely used and popular customer channels, so it’s imperative to be feeding this channel into your backend system and getting real-time metrics – and data-driven context – to inform your response.

As businesses slowly emerge from lockdown into a depressed economic environment, having this type of multichannel, backend integration will position nimble businesses to create new revenue streams and provide customers with the targeted, efficient and context-driven responses they will be demanding. Businesses that can have these types of quality conversations with their customers will enjoy an immediate and tangible competitive advantage.

Rob Lith

Chief commercial officer of Telviva

Rob Lith is chief commercial officer of Telviva, powered by Connection Telecom, which he co-founded in 2003. He is an ICT industry heavyweight and Internet specialist who has been involved in the industry for the last 20 years. His lifelong interest in technology has contributed to his in-depth knowledge of Internet markets, technology and products.

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