Coronavirus & the rise of Online Conferencing - Vusi Thembekwayo

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Vusi Thembekwayo 17 March 2020

The world thought tech valuations & global tech companies CEOs had gone crazy when Mark Zuckerberg bought virtual reality start-up Oculus-VR for a breezy $3bn in 2017.

At the time, we all thought that the fundamentals of the virtual reality opportunity did not support such a rich valuation. This is the problem with mathematical extrapolation that uses historical data as a base: the very start of the analysis is wrong.

I am old enough to remember a time when Skype was disruptive & CEOs as well as Risk Managers of Fortune 100 companies worried about the transfer and sharing of sensitive company data online on a video sharing platform. I remember an Audit & Risk sub-committee on a listed company that my private equity firm held equity in where we spoke about the clear and present dangers of hosting online meetings and sharing information that was confidential and price sensitive.

I was of the view that we need to embrace the emergence of new technologies & find a way to protect the data being shared to closed group. My fellow board members – particularly those that came from an audit background – felt that the risk was too high. It’s worth noting that the company had just appointed a Head of Strategy, amongst whose responsibility was the development of a 21st century ICT infrastructure to enable the business to be more agile. 

My private equity firm is no longer a shareholder in that firm

… and firm de-listed & its unit parts sold to the highest bidder in a fire-sale.

Coronavirus presents in my mind in an equally clear & present danger.

I expect that conference organizers & company’s marketing departments are busy scrambling their boardrooms thinking about cancelling their upcoming conferences. Whilst the rationale is clear, the opportunity is to think about how to leverage this public health crisis to create a new culture of conferencing.

Conference & events are for information dissemination & this crisis presents a more pressing need for leaders to get ahead of the misinformation curve and communicate. So rather than cancel your event, take it online.

Don’t Cancel Your Conference. TAKE IT ONLINE!

I have compiled a list of great online video conferencing tools that you can use to maintain your teams’ momentum:

Zoom: great for a simple yet effective user interface. Zoom unifies cloud video conferencing, simple online meetings, and group messaging into one easy-to-use platform.

this has become my personal favourite. It connects desktops, mobile devices and room meeting system on one platform. It is integrated with workplace collaboration tools that enable a seamless flow of information sharing.

a simple download and you’re ready to rumble. What I love most about this platform are the measures taken to secure your information & how you can recall that information and even the video conference itself after the conference.

we use ZohoMeeting because it is integrated to our CRM. Great when for me when I am meeting with my sales team whilst off traveling the world.   

I think that this platform will become more important in the near future. If you run an academy, training school or somebody of masterclass and need to do teaching remotely to more than one location, this is the platform would recommend.

Remember, there is always opportunity in times of fear.