In the pre COVID-19 world, most of us had limited knowledge or interest about the video-conferencing software company Zoom.
Founded in 2011 and launched in 2013 by a former Cisco Engineer, Eric Yuan, the company’s revenues witnessed exponential growth in early 2020 when COVID-19 virus was causing global shutdown.
By December of 2019, Zoom had 10 million daily participants. However, by October 2020, the video conferencing platform had 300 million users who were logging in to this virtual platform of human communication while being isolated or quarantined at their homes because of the rapidly unfolding pandemic.
Likewise, by December 27, 2019, the company’s stocks were being traded at 66.64 USD per share. In less than 10 months, by October 16, 2020, Zoom’s stocks skyrocketed to 559.00 USD per share.
This quick overview of the company’s remarkable growth shows that the global crisis of COVID-19 was in fact an opportunity for Zoom to grow at the global scale.
Just like several other business enterprises who were desperate to keep their employees functional during the pandemic, universities and the academic community were also striving hard to keep afloat, particularly when campuses were forced to shut down and face-to-face classes were moved online.
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In this chaotic scenario when academics had to readjust to the virtual modes of teaching, Zoom offered a way out to both teachers and students. A free Zoom membership, which came with 40 minutes worth of free class time, was everything that a faculty member and a student needed to get the job done, while complying with their stay-at-home orders.
The strategy worked well for the company and by the September of 2020, more than 100,000 schools in 25 countries were already using Zoom platform for academic purposes.
Even though the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and their quick rollout at global scale are encouraging signs for all of us, the work-life balance will not be the same as it used to be in the pre-COVID-19 world. In the post-pandemic world, businesses and academic institutions will favor cost-effective hybrid and virtual workspaces over traditional face-to-face and physical work places.
Thanks to virtual platforms, such as Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft MSFT Teams, businesses and academic institutions have acquired necessary skills and techniques to remain functional in virtual spaces.
Educational institutions inside and outside of the United States have learned that classes can still be offered while campuses remain closed.
Our younger generations, particularly students, are beginning to realize that they can be more mobile while still enrolled in schools. In other words, time and physical spaces are becoming less relevant when it comes to education on virtual platforms of communication.
Zoom executives fully realize this potential and that’s why the company is introducing more aggressive strategies to stay relevant in the post-COVID-19 world. The company has announced to introduce new features including virtual receptionist and the integration of voice assistants on Zoom platforms such as Amazon Alexa.
With the addition of such features, a user can join a Zoom meeting with a simple voice command, instead of actually touching their screens or devices.
Similarly, a virtual receptionist on Zoom can be more productive and efficient as he or she can let a visitor enter an office building by locking/unlocking doors virtually.
In fact, Zoom virtual assistants do not even have to be present at a particular office. They can even be located in an entirely different country while still performing their duties.
This factor alone carries a potential to outsource the job of a receptionist in many businesses. Companies and businesses might find it more cost effective to hire a virtual receptionist overseas than hiring a local employee.
All of these new features, ranging from virtual receptionists, to Zoom Rooms, to voice assistants, will not only make this virtual platform more user friendly, but also it will reinforce the idea of “new normal.”
By “new normal” we mean a post-COVID-19 world where hybrid and virtual modes of workplaces will take over the physical workforce. And amidst all of this rapidly morphing world around us, Zoom is here to stay!