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Coronavirus Boosts Cloud Meetings, Team Collaboration

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Someone wearing a mask
Image: Zephyr18 - gettyimages
Organizations and businesses around the world have implemented preventive measures to avoid the coronavirus. A key strategy for many of them has been the use of cloud meetings and team collaboration solutions instead of in-person meetings/working. Owing to the massive disruption caused by the virus, many companies have forced their workers to stay home, while some schools have shut down. Cloud meetings and team collaboration services allow organizations to abide by these homebound safety measures imposed by the government (or their job), which allows employees to keep working and students to keep learning. 
 
As concerns of the coronavirus spread, “collaboration trends that we are already [seeing] in the market today will continue," which will include an increase in remote working and demand for video meeting solutions, Pexip CCO Tom-Erik Lia told Frost & Sullivan. He noted: "To adapt to this shift, organizations should consider whether they are equipped to manage remote workers at scale and whether those workers have the ability to join virtual meetings wherever they are located using the devices and applications they already own." Moving forward, “workplaces need to be responsive to their employees’ needs," and “collaboration tools can help leadership teams navigate these unpredictable situations," said Christine Trodella, Workplace from Facebook’s head of Americas, told Frost & Sullivan.
 
This article sheds some light on these new trends in cloud meetings and team collaboration services, the actions taken by some of the main regional and global cloud meetings and team collaboration providers, and their plans for the future.
 
Actions, Reactions of Global Enterprise Meetings Providers
Many global enterprise communications and collaboration providers have decided to aid citizens, businesses, and governments in the fight against the virus through their cloud meetings and team collaboration capabilities. What follows are some of the main actions taken by providers as of press time:
 
Zoom
Zoom announced in a blog post unlimited cloud meetings time for all its Basic (free) users in China, proactive server monitoring to ensure reliability, and resources to teach users how to efficiently use the Zoom platform. Doctors from over 1,000 public hospitals in China are using Zoom’s high-definition video meetings to conduct online consultations, remotely diagnose patients, and provide treatment, according to Zoom.
 
Cisco
Cisco has expanded the capabilities of its free Webex offering in all countries where it is available (44 countries) and is offering 24/7 assistance for businesses impacted by the virus, according to a Cisco blog post written by Sri Srinivasan, SVP and GM of Cisco’s Team Collaboration Group. In the post, Srinivasan cited that traffic on the Webex backbone, which connects China-based Webex users to their global workplaces, has increased as much as 22 times since the outbreak began. During the same period, Cisco saw four-to-five times as many users in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, with the average time spent on Webex doubling among these users.
 
BlueJeans
BlueJeans has "added cloud infrastructure and network capacity to assist" their customers and will monitor the situation as it progresses, Alagu Periyannan, BlueJeans co-founder and CTO, told Frost & Sullivan in a statement. BlueJeans has also witnessed video conferencing network traffic increase four times in China and three times across the general Asia Pacific region from early January to mid-February.
 
LogMeIn
LogMeIn announced in a blog post that it will now be offering its front-line service providers free, organization-wide access to many LogMeIn products for three months, through the availability of Emergency Remote Work Kits. These kits include solutions for meetings and video conferencing, webinars, virtual events, IT support, and management of remote employee devices and apps, as well as remote access to devices in multiple locations. The Meet Emergency Remote Work Kit will also provide eligible organizations with a free site-wide license of GoToMeeting for three months. Eligible organizations include healthcare providers, educational institutions, municipalities, and non-profit organizations. To further demonstrate its support, the company is making these Emergency Remote Work Kits available to all existing LogMeIn customers.
 
Google
Google will be rolling out free access to advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite and G Suite for education customers globally, according to a blog post from Javier Soltero, GM and VP of G-Suite. These capabilities include larger meetings for up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.
 
Orange Business Services
Orange Business Services is preparing for the coronavirus by scaling its capacity, continuing its recent progress, Erwin Lutz, Orange Business Services director, told Frost & Sullivan. Recently, the company has seen a "doubling of PSTN call volumes from China [that are] accessing conferencing services outside of China." While the demand for conferencing services will increase, there will also be a need for user adoption for companies that are "using collaboration technology for the first time," Lutz noted.
 
To learn about how Chinese providers are responding, click through to page 2