For the video conferencing platform Zoom, India represents a significant portion of its 300 million daily meeting participants globally. “We have grown from 10 million participants a day to over 300 million participants a day on our platform and that’s happened in a period of 12 weeks,” Zoom’s India head and General Manager Sameer Raje told indianexpress.com in an interview. “India, in that, is quite a significant chunk.”
Raje, who has been associated with companies like Cisco Webex, IBM, and Microsoft in the past, says Indian consumers are very demanding in terms of service and after service. “When it comes to Indian customers, I would say they are unique and they need a personal touch,” he said.
The popularity of Zoom has shot up in recent months as millions of people around the world are forced to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. During these unprecedented times, a lot of non-enterprise focused customers have also started using Zoom. In fact, Zoom is now the most downloaded app on the Google Play Store in India beating TikTok, Instagram and WhatsApp.
For Raje, Zoom will always remain an enterprise platform with the primary focus on enterprise customers. He, however, did admit that during the Covid-19 situation the uptake of individual customers using the video conferencing platform has increased. “We are right now not looking at getting people to the platform but we are trying to help people stay connected during these difficult times and that’s our goal. We are not focusing on anything else,” he explains. Zoom usually has a 40-minute meeting limit on free basic accounts but it has decided to remove it for K to 12 schools.
Like many, Raje says our digital lives post the coronavirus lockdown may never be the same again. “I think life after the Covid-19 is going to be different, whether it returns to normalcy or what, but people are going to change the way they behave, the way they do business, the way they travel, the way they interact. It’s going to be more and more of a virtual world and more and more of staying in isolation,” he said.
Even though the usage of Zoom continues to spike during the coronavirus pandemic , Raje expects a ‘marginal dip’ when people start going to offices and schools reopen.
While it’s true Zoom is now being used by millions of people for work and leisure as the coronavirus lockdowns are imposed in parts of the world, the video conference platform has also come under fire for security and privacy issues. Last month, the Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord), under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in India, had issued an advisory warning government officials to avoid using the Zoom platform for official purposes, citing it as unsafe. Zoom. The advisory also listed certain guidelines for safe usage of Zoom by private entities and individuals for unofficial purposes.
To address those concerns, Zoom started a 90-day programme to improve privacy and security issues like “Zoombombing”, in which hackers attempt to enter your meetings. The company also released the Zoom 5.0 update that included stronger encryption, enabling passwords by default for most customers, and the ability to report abusive Zoom users. Zoom recently tapped former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos as an adviser.
“We are working with different divisions, different ministries of the government. Our goal is to communicate the right things to them, share our requisite privacy, security and the technical aspects of our platform and help them to get the right decisions and thereby communicate the same to the masses. We are in the process of doing that and that will continue to do so,” Raje said.
Raje says the company is doing everything to “coach, educate and guide” users in terms of how to use our platform. Zoom has also mandated certain features. For example, schools have the password as a mandatory feature. In future, Zoom might mandate these features for some of the individual users who are using the video chat platform.
Raje reiterates that Zoom has always been secure and continues to do so. “What has happened was unfortunate,” he said, adding that Zoom as a platform is not vulnerable and it has never been hacked.
Addressing data privacy concerns, Zoom recently allowed all paying customers to choose the data centres or the geography where they want their data to go to. Raje says the feature has been rolled out after the feedback they got from India where restricting data flow to certain countries is a concern.
“We are working on a lot of Indian requirements which will get embedded in the platform, but it’s too premature to talk about them right now,” he said. “But yes, we are working on a lot of initiatives.”