How Zoom Is a Remote Document Collaboration Tool
The remote conference platform’s versatility is a sign of a competitive future
Back in January 2019, video streaming company Netflix made headlines when, in a shareholder letter, it identified its largest competitor as not Disney, nor HBO, nor even Amazon—but the online video game Fortnite. The announcement was eyebrow raising to say the least: How could a company in a completely different industry be a competitor? The letter would go on to elaborate that, because of how Fortnite and other video games consumed attention that could otherwise be directed at Netflix, the company branded them all as competition.
This outside-the-box thinking was ahead of its time and showed Netflix to be an ambitious company—one that was looking outside of its immediate circle for potential competitors and opportunities (interestingly, the company has recently shifted to gaming content to augment its video platform).
I bring this up to illustrate a point: Competition can come from unexpected places. At Keypoint Intelligence, when we look at the print landscape, we have long been looking at competing markets to measure the impact they have on the print space. The advent of the smartphone, for instance, and the ability to put an online-enabled computer had an incredible effect on how people choose and want to communicate.
In our recently published Future of Office primary research survey, we asked about the changing print landscape yes, but we also looked at changing behaviors brought on by the new hybrid workplace model that many now call reality. I believe that one chart in particular may have more significance than is immediately evident:
The Growing Need for Remote Workflow Tools
When the pandemic broke in March 2020, Zoom suddenly found itself in high demand—and it wasn’t just a passing fad. Last month, Zoom reported it had grown its total revenue by 35% year over year. With no real end of the pandemic in sight, and the majority of workers liking the new hybrid business model, Zoom looks to have a safe place in offices across the country. Regardless of industry, many people now find themselves using the tool (or a very similar product) for meetings and virtual events.
But that’s not all. Sure, Zoom is known as a remote conference platform, but it is actually a fairly versatile tool. It connects people across great distances. What those people do after that…well, Zoom can still be helpful. While it is lightyears away from a comprehensive solution like DocuWare—Zoom, with its low price point and universal recognition, could serve as a rudimentary tool for remote document collaboration and management, especially when paired with online repositories like Google Docs or DropBox.
Zoom’s Future as a Remote Collaboration Tool
Zoom’s remote collaboration abilities may be finite now, but the company isn’t standing still. At Zoomtopia 2021, the company discussed numerous advancements to their platform, including the introduction of whiteboard functionality—a sort of digital canvas where people on calls can collaborate in real-time. Zoom also announced it was teaming up with Oculus (the virtual reality division of Meta) for compatibility with Horizon Workrooms (another powerful remote collaboration platform).
While, to my knowledge, no specific document management tool was discussed, it is not difficult to see Zoom building out its functionality in this space—especially if it sees a need from its clients. Zoom, like Netflix, is moving to be the medium for digital communication, and it seems to understand that this goes far beyond simple remote conferencing.
Why Print Needs to Look Outside the Industry
Print cannot view itself as an insular industry. This has been true for some time now. COVID-19 has increased many trends, among them the move away from the office and from logistically bound workflows. It is still too early to say exactly what role print will play in the hybrid workplace, but it is unlikely that it will be a universally dominant communication medium.
As companies spread, the ability to move and communicate data quickly and securely will only become more important. Zoom was in the right place, and made the right moves, to fully take advantage of the situation created by the pandemic—and the company isn’t content to simply be a remote conferences app. As Zoom grows and develops, it may threaten aspects of workflow digitization that companies like Ricoh, HP, Xerox, and others currently specialize in.
Print OEMs, vendors, and service providers must think like Netflix: Don’t be confined to increasingly archaic industry verticals—think only of how you want your product to be used. For Netflix, they want to be the place everyone goes to relax. For print companies, they should want to remain in the central flow of business—a central flow that is currently undergoing massive changes.
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