Cisco, Google, LogMeIn, and Zoom Enhance Free Meetings to Assist with Coronavirus
by Jim Lundy
With the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus appearing like a more serious public health risk every day, more and more employers are choosing to cancel travel plans or have employees work from home. As a result, companies are looking for ways to connect employees for collaboration that don’t require travel. Recently, several leaders in the web and video conferencing market have stepped up to expand their freely available meeting services to help keep people working during the outbreak. This blog will review some of the market context behind this decision and reflect on how outbreaks like this affect the functioning of the enterprise.
Cisco Makes a Compelling Offer: Free Webex
Cisco, which is known for its corporate charity efforts, has gone further with Webex. Yesterday, Cisco announced that its Webex video conferencing technology will now be offered free around the world, not only in places impacted by COVID-19.
Cisco pointed out that China’s Webex use has increased by as much as 22 times since the outbreak of the virus. If these numbers are any indication, we can predict that unless the spread of the virus abates, we will see rapidly increasing adoption of web and video conferencing technology in the near future as virtual work becomes a necessity. Cisco indicated that it also has redundant network bandwidth available should bandwidth become constrained.
Google Offers Premium Features to Existing Customers
Like Zoom, Google recently opted to extend its premium Hangouts offering to normal customers. While the basic version of Google Hangouts still offers a robust web meeting platform, premium features add the capacity to have 250 participants on a call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers, and the ability to record meetings. Features such as these will be necessary as larger organizations work remotely more and want to scale their online video meeting process to meet their collaboration needs.
LogMeIn Offers Free Remote Work Kits
Not to be outdone, LogMeIn announced that it is providing what it calls ‘Remote Work Kits” that consist of video meetings, webinars, as well as IT support and management of employee devices and apps. The kits are available at no charge for 90 days to healthcare providers, educational institutions, cities, non-profit enterprises, and other “front-line service providers.”
LogMeIn is known within IT, so the extra IT tools will help IT teams deal with remote worker issues. This alone might give LogMeIn an edge in the race to assist frontline support organizations.
Zoom Removes 40 Minute Meeting Limit in China
Faced with the threats to Chinese public life and social functioning, Zoom has stepped in to offer Chinese users free access to its video conferencing technology, and has removed the usual 40-minute meeting limit. To its credit, in China, Zoom video conferencing has also been used for conducting mental health training and online education via the China Educational Information Platform.
Lifesize Offers Free Services in 100+ Countries
Recently, web and video conferencing provider Lifesize has decided to offer its video services for free for 6 months to organizations in over 100 countries. Lifesize’s offering includes unlimited video meetings without time limits, so it may be a good choice for organizations looking to pick up video conferencing support quickly without breaking the bank.
Web and Video Conferencing Is on the Rise
In its recently published 2020 Web and Video Conferencing Globe, Aragon labeled all three of these providers as leaders in the video meetings and collaboration market. The decision to offer free meetings underscores the advantages these companies have in the market, where they each offer widely adopted, fully-featured products. If coronavirus continues to spread, there’s no question that technologies that can connect the enterprise at a distance will flourish.
Aragon predicted that by 2022, the team collaboration markets and web meetings markets will converge. As companies strive to establish efficient business processes that are invulnerable to travel disruptions or other impediments to physical meet-ups, online meetings will become the name of the game for collaboration.
Even without the threat of COVID-19, it’s a good time to be in the web and video conferencing market. The size of the remote workforce is rising all over the world, a trend we expect to only grow. When enterprises begin to realize how easy the process of collaborating over web meetings can be with the right service provider, collaboration will converge with web and video conferencing.
For enterprises that haven’t adopted a web and video conferencing solution, now is an excellent time. With enhanced offerings from market leaders, companies would be wise to invest now to prepare themselves for a large coronavirus outbreak. And if the virus turns out not to be a global pandemic, these adopters will benefit anyway as remote work becomes the norm.
Editor’s Note: Check out our brand new Aragon Globe for Web and Video Conferencing.