CIO’s remote work checklist goes beyond videoconferencing

The emergence of the Covid-19 Omicron variant caused some corporate technology leaders to see nuances from the early days of the pandemic, when many companies rushed to install remote working measures. But this time around, they say, one area they’re not worried about is video conferencing.

Once seen as a lifeline for homebound workers – and a priority software deployment – video conferencing applications are now a much smaller effort by CIOs to take advantage of more complex technologies, such as automation and artificial intelligence, to compete in markets reshaped by Covid. 19, say CIOs and other company technology leaders.

“The foundation for our remote working infrastructure and video conferencing capabilities is firmly in place and has been for some time now,” said David Vidoni, vice president of IT at Pegasystems, a Cambridge-based software company, in Massachusetts. Inc.

“Now it’s just a matter of intelligently integrating these tools with all of our other digital transformation initiatives going forward across the company,” said Vidoni.

This can be a problem for Zoom Video Communications Inc.,

whose flagship video conferencing tool has become the app of choice for companies rushing to keep workers connected, skyrocketing sales. The San Jose, Calif.-Based startup says its online traffic peaked at some 300 million daily participants in April 2020, up from 10 million in December 2019.

“Zoom was in the right place at the right time,” said Wayne Kurtzman, research director for social and collaboration software at research firm International Data Corp. “They were easy to use, deploy and buy, even for the business. “

Since then, analysts say, much larger technology vendors have added new features and functionality to their video conferencing platforms, including Microsoft. Corp.

and alphabet Inc.

Google, which are often included in entire suites of core business applications.

This puts additional pressure on Zoom to innovate quickly and keep pace with market challengers, said Laura Petrone, senior analyst at research firm GlobalData PLC. “The pandemic has made this competition even tighter,” said Ms. Petrone.

For Zoom, driving business customers away from loyal enterprise IT vendors won’t be easy, she said.

Matt Carey, CIO at Home Depot Inc.,

stated that the company uses both Microsoft Teams and Cisco Systems Inc.

WebEx video conferencing tools for internal and external meetings. He has no plans to trade these apps anytime soon: “We continue to rely on these platforms on a daily basis,” Mr. Carey said. For now, most of the company’s technology teams, among other business groups, continue to work remotely, he said.

Last year, Zoom released hundreds of new features and upgrades for its video conferencing app, said Gary Sorrentino, deputy IT director for the company. They include a digital whiteboard that can be used before, during and after an online meeting, and real-time automated translations, among other tools.

It has also spread to new areas, he said, such as a service to help businesses manage physical office spaces, including an app with an interactive map to book offices or rooms. conference.

Mr Sorrentino said the challenge today for CIOs is to deploy technology that supports entirely new work models that did not exist before the pandemic, or even immediately after the initial phase of remote working, such as hybrid strategies: “Single applications can no longer maintain the flexibility and agility to scale as employees evolve,” he said.

Doing all of this requires a more flexible, attractive and comprehensive set of software tools, “instead of siled offerings,” Sorrentino said.

IDC estimates that the global collaboration application market will exceed $ 50 billion by 2025, nearly double the levels of 2020. But the pace of growth will begin to slow in the coming years, Kurtzman said. from IDC.

Last month, Zoom reported revenue of $ 1.05 billion for the three months ended October 31, an increase of 35% from the previous year, but lower than the increase of 54 % of the previous quarter. A year earlier, sales jumped more than 360%, a sign that many companies were caught off guard by the pandemic and saw Zoom as a quick and easy solution.

Christopher Trueman, senior analyst covering employee experience, content and communications technologies at technology research firm Gartner Inc.,

said most businesses now have multiple virtual meeting apps for different purposes. “A business can use Microsoft Teams for all of its internal meeting and collaboration needs, Zoom for more formal and external meetings, and a dedicated service like On24 for large webcasts,” said Mr. Trueman.

But, he added, large software companies have the advantage of offering their meeting and collaboration tools as part of large business application packages, allowing them to “keep a foot in the door.” door ‘with companies rushing to install single-use apps.

Write to Angus Loten at [email protected]

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Maria D. Ervin