Wave Good-Bye to all Attendance Excuses/No More Snow Days!
Zoom is many things to many people but one thing it is not is what veterinarians call “Zoomies”, that explosion of puppy energy exhibited by running around in circles! One year ago, if you knew of, heard of or used something like Zoom, chances are you were in Information Technology (IT) in some capacity. Today if you haven’t heard of Zoom, chances are you have no obligations, you are way off-grid or worse, no one likes you much. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Skype and WebEx kept Zoom below the radar for most of us. Since the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, quarantine, and social distancing mandates, video conferencing has become our default setting for all types of interactions. As workplaces in the United States, and the world at large begin to reopen, Zoom boasts 40 million daily users who are likely to continue using the platform going forward. So, who and what is Zoom?
Eric Yuan, former corporate VP for WebEx and Cisco is the founder and driving force behind Zoom. As a college freshman in China, he endured a 10-hour train ride to visit his girlfriend (now wife) and began imaging alternative visiting methods without physical travel. The rise of the Internet drew Yuan to the US in the 1990’s. Perseverance became a key word as his visa application was rejected 9 times. 1997 found Yuan in Silicon Valley with WebEx, a real-time collaboration company. WebEx was acquired by Cisco in 2007. In 2011, Yuan and 40 engineers left Cisco to start a videotelephony company. Initially he had trouble raising capital as investors believed the market to be saturated. The Zoom Platform was launched in 2012 with software for up to 15 participants. The 2013 version increased participants to 25. Their first End-of-Month figures reported 40,000 users and reached 1 million by May 2013. By 2017 Zoom logged 20 billion annualized meeting minutes and included 90% of the top 200 US universities as clients. Zoom is headquartered in San Jose, CA and publicly traded on NASDAQ as ZM.
Zoom’s corporate slogan is “We deliver Happiness”, which seems a bit optimistic. Their mission is “Frictionless Communications” and stated vision is for “Video Conferencing to Empower Productivity.” Zoom’s culture prides itself on collaboration, team playing, remaining humble and applying the Golden Rule in all interactions. As we have all learned over the course of the last six months, the beauty of video conferencing is:
- Geographically unrestricted
- Reduction in feelings of isolation
- Team building across locales
- Face-to-face interaction: body language and facial expression account for 70% of communication. Zoom claims to support enhanced communication with less misunderstanding/misinterpretation than texting or messaging.
- Meeting from the comfort of you home
The wide range of video conferencing uses include:
- Software code collaboration
- Education/remote classrooms. 90,000 schools in 20 countries thus far.
- Real Estate: tours, transactions
- Churches: on-line services and virtual choirs
- Actors/Performers: virtual rehearsals/performances
- Support groups: meetings, group treatment sessions
- Medical: telehealth, collaboration for diagnosis, treatment. A prime example of this is Project ECHO, Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes. ECHO uses tele-mentoring/collaboration to equip primary care healthcare professionals in rural areas with access to all available knowledge and resources to provide the highest possible quality of care. In short, bridging the healthcare gap in rural areas.
Many believe the future of healthcare looks a lot like ZOOM. It has added 2.22 million monthly active users so far in 2020. In response to COVID-19, ZOOM lifted its 40-minute limit for its free-use software version. Security issues called ‘Zoom-bombing’ have occurred as hackers have circumvented encryption measures. The company is enacting new software to address this and HIPAA compliance as well. Kim Bellard, former e-marketing executive for a major Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan and regular contributor to The Healthcare Blog says, “It is possible that Zoom has reached its zenith already…but I don’t think so. We’ve now seen more of the world that broadband promised us over a decade ago and we like it. With healthcare though, all too often it is about the money, not our convenience or preferences…I hope healthcare learns its COVID-19 Zoom lesson.”
Mathew Kitchen offers us a “How to Bloom on Zoom”, quick guide to acting professionals on video conferencing calls so we can avoid those epic fails we have all seen on You-tube. These include foul language, accidental nudity or poor wardrobe choices, pranking, arguments and inappropriate settings. He calls Zoom both a blessing and a curse which keeps us close to people but never far from our work environment. Kitchen offers these new etiquette suggestions:
- Know where your camera is pointed
- Master the art of muting
- No eating on camera
- Keep your phone out of sight if you are multi-tasking
- Never be the first to arrive or the last to leave a video conference
- A note of thanks to the host goes a long way
NHS Solutions embraced video conferencing over 2 years ago. Our corporate staff holds a weekly 1 hour video conference call that has become a vital tool for our team. Many of our staff worked remotely even prior to the COVID-19 reset and NHS Solutions found the benefits in connecting as a team via video helps ensure collaboration, problem-solving, support and productivity. We are able to better support our interim healthcare professionals in the field as well as our hospital clients by collaborating and putting our heads together, even if only on a computer screen.