Best of both worlds: when a dual vendor strategy might make sense

Of the businesses or solutions that have seen their popularity accelerate over the last few months, Zoom and Microsoft Teams are two of the most prominent. The former saw both revenues and user numbers skyrocket, with customer numbers increasing from 10 million daily active participants at the end of 2019 to more than 300 million by mid-2020, while the latter announced that it had more than 115 million daily active users, up from 75 million in April and 13 million some 15 months ago.

In fact, Zoom has enjoyed such a rapid period of growth that it has entered the common lexicon of brand names that people use as generic terms, like Jet Ski, Bubble Wrap, Jacuzzi, Kleenex and Scotch Tape.

But with the realization that remote working is the new normal, many enterprises need make collaboration easier for their employees.

Before the pandemic, many organizations had upwards of three videoconferencing solutions. That is likely to have increased as lines of business in a company circumvented corporate IT to access freemium consumer-grade solutions. And why? Because of their superior ease of use. While this may have worked during the early days of lockdown, it also fuels shadow IT and all its attendant issues: cost control, lack of governance and security exposure.

However, it would be wrong to categorize the implementation of Zoom, Teams, or any other solution as an either/or discussion. In fact, only considering it as such would be to miss a significant opportunity.

A dual approach to collaboration for new ways of working

As companies try to make sense of what the new ways of working will look like, simplifying their collaboration and conferencing approach must be a priority. Many will instinctively look at what they have already invested in and try to mandate the end of the likes of Zoom in favor of centrally procured options, such as Cisco Webex Meetings, Microsoft Teams, etc.

However, to do so risks two things. First, the possibility of a backlash of non-compliance, exacerbating shadow IT problems with lines of business looking for workarounds outside of corporate IT control. Second, missing a major opportunity to combine a highly intuitive, popular and recognizable enterprise-grade collaboration platform, like Zoom, with other tools and workflow solutions, like Microsoft Teams.

What about the coverage of Zoom’s security challenges? Since these came to light, the company has taken significant steps to address them, deploying end-to-end encryption (E2EE), placing host security controls front and center in the user interface (the only platform to do so) and giving meeting organizers and participants more control over how they deal with meeting interruptions – all without hampering the user experience.

Put simply, taking a dual approach and fully integrating Zoom should be the priority for all businesses that find themselves at a conferencing crossroads.

Achieving duality: integrating Zoom and Teams

So, how do enterprises take this dual approach? First, they need to understand what users are going to get out of the combination. What are the problems that need addressing?

These can be defined through quantitative and qualitative measures, the former with usage statistics that help identify patterns and behaviors, and the latter through engaging with a variety of stakeholders across lines of business and talking about use cases, workflows and experience.

Businesses can then start to review their needs and how a combination of Zoom and Teams can solve and support those requirements. That might include facilitating easy access to all-hands meetings, supporting full video in meetings with large numbers of attendees or making it easier for external attendees to join calls without employees switching systems. Or it could be integrating workflow benefits, such as automatic meeting schedule through Teams (as well as Skype for Business) and single sign-on.

Once that has been determined, usage can be defined and licenses procured as necessary. It might be that within small units or internal meetings and for sharing of confidential files, Teams is preferred. When external parties are invited or for gatherings over a certain number of people, Zoom is the solution of choice.

The role of management in reducing complexity

However, to get the best out of duality requires proper management. Despite its ease of use, integrating Zoom effectively into both the wider business and with Teams has complexities. That’s why it is important to consider opting for a managed services partner. As well as assisting with integration, there’s also the opportunity to add end-user training and service-desk support, along with the potential for contract consolidation and local billing capability – a significant bonus at a time when the proliferation of apps and services in multiple regions is bringing increased complexity.

Ultimately, Zoom’s major selling point is ease-of-use: there is no downloading of apps or drawn-out sign-up process. IT departments and enterprises that fight against it may face a losing battle – at best, they will only succeed in driving usage underground and further out of their control. They need to find the right way of integrating it with established corporate apps and services, such as Office 365 and Teams, with a dual technology strategy. In doing so, they will be able to get the most out of existing investments and ensure continued security and corporate governance while facilitating a better user experience.

Remote working needs intuitive, simple solutions. Discover Business Together with Zoom. Our partnership with Zoom works end to end, from service transition and integration to user training, success management, local billing, consolidated contracts and 24/7 service-desk support.

Emmanuelle Christophe
Emmanuelle Christophe

Emmanuelle is in a charge of the global marketing of Zoom solutions at Orange Business Services. In her current role, she is responsible for product development and go-to-market activities around the Orange offers with Zoom. Emmanuelle joined Orange Business Services in 1996 and has held multiple sales and marketing roles related to collaboration and contact centers.