The first 100 days of corporate work life in COVID-19 will be symbolized by the on-screen collage of colleagues’ faces. The excitement for many of making it all happen with videoconferencing was palpable. Especially in the first few days. New attendees could not resist informing everyone they had “found the mute”. Everyone forgave connection hiccups. Noisy pets and nosy partners were waved at. Lighting issues and awkward moments were considered authentic. It was all about being connected in a world where the auto-disconnect button was triggered for virtually everything else.
Now, the video meeting has become a daily staple in the work agenda for everyone. A new (tedious) conversation is your colleagues declaring that they are in back-to-back video meetings. It is unclear if this, usually uninvited, declaration by them is a demonstration of relative importance in a corporate context while in isolation or simply proof of them not being that good at diary management. As an aside, I call this conversation the confessions of a Zoom Zombie. Perhaps before sharing their fatigue they should observe the others first. After all, it is video.
That aside, strategically speaking what has been fascinating of the first 100 days has been the speed of this shift to a new order of industry-wide engagement. While a wholesale shift to video interaction for business was largely resisted in much of wealth management for over 10 years, once COVID-19 business continuity plans were triggered in February the decision to change took less than 10 days. For some it probably took less than 10 minutes. Being connected is the oxygen of business.
The critical question now is: What is going to happen next?
Choosing the right technology for video engagement has been an interesting decision matrix. Reliability, capacity, functionality and security are top factors. At the beginning they were most likely the only factors – cost was relevant but secondary. At a recent closed (digital) doors meeting of leading Wealth technology decision-makers, curated by F2 Strategy and MMI, it was clear at the outset many were overwhelmed by choice. The option choices for video connection literally stretched from A to Z (see below). The outcome for most was to embrace a number of solutions, all at the same time. Zoom? Bluejeans? GoToMeeting? Webinar? Slack? Teams? No problem, let’s have them all.
The savvy CTO and COO tech buyers in wealth management are now beginning to look beyond achieving the basic goal of getting, and staying, connected. Video engagement is not just about the chance to see into a colleague’s kitchen while the COO makes market forecasts. The engagement needs to part of a broader productivity process. Multiple options is ok but in reality consistency and simplification of access is critical for the broader needs of the operating model.
Looking toward the next 100 days of corporate decision making, the agenda is shifting. The CTOs, who recently contributed to the proprietary research arm of F2, made this clear. When it comes to video communication, it is not simply about connection continuity. This is a working environment with colleagues and also, critical, with clients. Integration with the wider business operations platform sis a factor. Fundamentally, as we crawl out of business continuity processes mode it is now also about ensuring sustained longer term productivity.
In this environment zoom zombies are going to become a problem. Jumping from video room to video room is no different to being constantly in the office conference room. When does work actually get done? Moreover, video tech will need to connect discussions to the wider activities of your workday is going to become even more pressing in terms of value. Can the discussion integrate into the CRM, can a shared document be worked on by all during the conversation without switch platforms, can the meeting engagement become part of performance assessments?
Looking to the future, and at the very least the remainder of 2020, wealth management CTOs are re-casting their views on which is the right video-enabling solution for the business. The cast of dozens are likely to be narrowed down to less than a handful. Better platform functionality alongside integration into workflows and systems will become the priority. Reducing the number of zoom zombies will also, hopefully, be a positive outcome too.