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Year in 2021 Review: Virtual Communications and Collaboration Trends

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By Sameer Raje, General Manager & India Head, Zoom Video Communications

The year 2021 saw widespread adoption of collaboration platforms. Some of the top trends witnessed in the year 2021 include:

1. Growing adoption of collaboration platforms across industries
There has been widespread adoption of collaboration platforms across industries to improve and personalise Customer Experience (CX). Organisations are using these platforms in innovative ways to improve, personalise and hence deliver better CX to a variety of customers across rural and urban areas. This has helped companies establish a better connect with a larger customer base and gives customers the flexibility to connect from anywhere, anytime and across any device/platform. Beyond connecting with customers, companies are also using collaboration platforms in a variety of ways such as to enable new ways of working, learning, service delivery, hosting events and empowering a hybrid workforce.

While financial institutions are using our platform to serve a growing number of clients who prefer to connect digitally, and to give employees the flexibility to embrace hybrid work; health delivery organizations, health systems, and pharma-biotech companies are using them for everything from virtual visits to global collaboration. Educators have also embraced communications and collaboration to improve equity, inclusiveness, accessibility, engagement and offer an immersive experience to the classrooms and campuses of tomorrow. Organisations across industries are now bringing to the table a total experience through the blend of in-person and virtual connections.

2. Hybrid and Flexibility – a new normal emerges
As we approach the end of 2021, organizations across the globe have understood the importance of the hybrid workspace and are preparing their teams for this new normal. As a semblance of normalcy resumed during the latter half of the year, we saw organizations adopt a mix of remote, hybrid and physical setups in different mixes as were best suited to their objectives.

Collaboration platform providers like Zoom stepped up by adding new products to serve the changing customer needs. Many studies have clearly shown that most employees want a hybrid and flexible approach where they are given the freedom to work both from home and from the office. Happy employees lead to happy customers and organisations have started addressing these demands of the workforce for a win-win situation. Employees have become the focus of every work strategy/ approach as they look for an environment where they can be most productive and feel most mentally balanced. In this time of rapid change, reflecting on our progress to identify areas for improvement and stay on the right track is critical for self-improvement.

3. Virtual Care and Telehealth are here to stay
The past couple of years have really highlighted the importance of virtual healthcare. Telehealth and video communications have made value-based care more accessible, convenient, and affordable. Various innovations and improvements have improved patient experience to a great extent. Providers today can consult with global experts and continue their medical education with virtual training, certification programs, and conferences. Hospital administrators can convene staff meetings virtually across multiple departments and buildings for routine announcements and emergency communications. Consumers too want to be able to have flexible options — be it with primary caregivers or with overall wellness providers. For telehealth and virtual care solution providers, reliability, consistency, and quality are key to improving the patient experience. Using a video platform that connects everyone along the care continuum can lead to greater information sharing and collaboration for improved patient care and outcomes.

4. The Zero Trust Approach
To adapt to hybrid working environments, more companies will drive to adopt the Zero Trust security model. The ‘zero trust’ approach requires verifying everything and trusting none when it comes to cybersecurity. Conversations around protecting the hybrid workforce from risk will lead security professionals to adopt modern tools and technologies, like multi-factor authentication and the Zero Trust approach to security. We believe that companies need these tools to make sure their employees can get work done as safely as possible from wherever they are — commuting, traveling, or working from home — and that all of their endpoints are secured with continual checks in place.

Security leaders also need to step up their protections against third-party risks. Our industry saw a distinct increase in supply chain attacks. CISOs need to make sure their vendors are also secure. Despite a sharp increase in cyber-attacks, the majority of firms are not well prepared and with security threats worsening, they need to consider setting up special committees for cybersecurity. Companies will increasingly consider hiring cybersecurity professionals to strengthen their cover, more so as the hybrid work culture sees greater adoption.

5. A New Back to School Model Emerges
With academic institutions switching from remote to hybrid to in-person learning and back again over the past 18 months, faculty, administrators, and students had to re-examine their notions of what the new paradigm of education looks like. Educational institutes have adapted to the hybrid model of education which combines online and offline classes. As students emerge from the pandemic, educational institutes are focusing on improving student collaboration, teamwork, equity, inclusivity, accessibility, and engagement to meet the needs of the current and future students.

Institutes have started gaining access to advanced tools that will enable them to transform education and the adoption of these will accelerate as these tools become more and more accessible. Just like remote workers, remote students now have more control over how they want to learn, where they want to learn and, in some cases, when they want to learn. Several schools around the world are also experimenting with newer models of class-scheduling like classes in alternate shifts during the day as well as conducting classes on alternate days. Today, the new back to school model is defined by the educational institution’s role in inculcating confidence and adaptability in learners irrespective of the format of learning.

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