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‘Meet Happy’ With Zoom’s Hardware as a Service
This week, cloud video and meetings vendor Zoom announced its hardware as a service (Haas) offering. As Ryan Daily pointed out in this No Jitter post, the program lets enterprises purchase Zoom Rooms or Zoom Phone hardware at a fixed monthly price instead of incurring a single up-front cost. The benefit of this, and programs like it, is that it gives customers some budget flexibility and makes purchasing what they need easier. It’s akin to paying a monthly fee for your cell phone, instead of plunking down $1,100 for the new iPhone.
In many ways, this offering shows the maturing of Zoom and the company’s expansion within their customer base. Historically, the majority of Zoom usage has been mobile and PC-based meetings where the only hardware required is the computer or phone. This provides an excellent option for remote workers, including the massive wave of work from home users that the COVID-19 pandemic created. One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic is that people are now a lot more comfortable with video-based meetings, and that will carry over into the workplace once businesses start to return to the office.
Video is a funny thing in that once people start to use video, they like it and use it more but the barrier to entry is often very high. In the past, I had talked to many workers, some from companies that sell video, that refused to use it because of the way they look or the room they are in is a mess or other lame excuse. Prior to COVID-19, one could be in a meeting and not on video, and that was acceptable, even the norm within many organizations. Today, the attitude has changed — employees that don’t join via video are pressured to switch on the camera.
When people return to the office, the video trend will continue and will expand to more than just PC and mobile-based sessions. Huddle rooms, conference rooms, open meeting spaces, large offices, and almost everywhere you think of will get video-enabled, so people can continue to “meet” with a workforce that is likely to maintain some level of social distancing for years.
Another interesting trend pushing more video in the workplace is the evolution of the video meeting that will soon make it better than an in-person meeting. Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, alluded to this at Zoomtopia 2019, stating that Zoom’s mission was to make this happen. Zoom and its peers are working on features like transcription, translation, voice assistants, transcription analysis, facial recognition, and more that make meetings easier and more productive. Over time, people will turn on meeting solutions, even when meeting in person, as video greatly enhances the experience.
This creates a challenge for businesses looking to outfit meeting spaces with the necessary hardware, as buying a bunch of new hardware can break the bank with respect to IT budgets. Also, after making the purchase, an organization may study utilization and want to scale the amount of hardware up or down, which isn’t possible with the traditional purchasing model. Scaling up with purchased equipment creates little in the way of flexibility and can often take a long time to realize the ROI. In fact, a company may delay upgrading the equipment until the hardware has been amortized, meaning they might be delaying some new features that could be beneficial to the organization.
Zoom’s HaaS enables companies to scale up and down quickly and easily with Zoom Phone and Zoom Room endpoints. This can also be ideal for seasonal companies that add people during high-volume periods. Accounting firms during tax season is a good example of this. The HaaS model is ideal, as it allows for maximum cost efficiency that can generally fit budgets better. If a new endpoint becomes available, upgrading is as easy as swapping out the endpoint.
Zoom has been masterful at capturing mindshare when it comes to online meetings, but its Phone and Rooms business hasn’t had the same traction. The pandemic is one factor, but prior to that, the growth certainly didn’t match the trajectory of cloud meetings. HaaS removes any cost barrier that might hold a company back from adding phones or room kits.
Post pandemic, I believed organizations will reshape legacy processes around video. For example, schools can shift to a more collaborative and immersive way of learning with video, regardless of whether students are in the classroom or not. Healthcare institutions can use video to answer routine questions when it’s not necessary to have people come in-person. I’ve talked to city representatives that want to use video to conduct arraignments, instead of driving prisoners across town, which wastes money. All these use cases require high-quality video, which often requires dedicated hardware, and Zoom’s HaaS makes it easier to and more cost-effective to deploy.
This let’s Zoom extend its tag line from “Meet Happy” to “Learn Happy, Treat Happy” and “Get Sentenced Happy.” Maybe, the last one might not stick, but certainly, there are many processes that embedded video can improve, and in each case, the stakeholders should be happier.
Looking to learn more about working with Zoom? Then make sure to attend the "Cisco vs. Microsoft vs. Zoom: Clearing The WFH Fog" session at Enterprise Connect Digital Conference & Expo 2020. Register today and view the full conference here.