Video Conferencing Business Scaling

Goals

To identify 3-5 best practices in scaling a video conference business. This information will be used to help a client scale their video conferencing business.

Early Findings

Best Practices in Scaling a Video Conference Platform

Focus on Video-First Engineering

  • A platform that is cloud-native and optimized for video will scale better than one that attempts to grow via adding video to preexisting capabilities, such as conference call, screen sharing, or chat.
  • Zoom was able to scale their video conferencing platform by leveraging a series of data centers that are monitored and optimized by a team of operations engineers.
  • Zoom notes four specific elements of their video architecture, which have allowed them to scale their videoconferencing capabilities. These include "distributed architecture" (allowing for reliably distributing meetings across a network), "multimedia routing" (which allows the system to manage a large number of participants in a meeting), "multi-bitrate encoding" (allowing for various levels of quality resolution, depending on device), and "quality-of-service application layer", which optimizes the video, audio, and screen-sharing experience.

Continue to Invest in Infrastructure

  • In response to the high demand associated with COVID-19, Zoom has added servers to their data centers and increased their cloud capacity, with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
  • Microsoft Teams selectively increased their capacity in regions with growth in remote work and a greater need for video conferencing capabilities.

Continue to Hire

  • Zoom has continued to hire engineers and salespeople to manage the growth in their business as a result of COVID-19.
  • Potentially leverage metrics (such as KPIs, ROI, or revenue per head) to ensure hiring is done intelligently.

Scale Back Non-Essential Services to Meet Demand in High-Growth Periods

  • Another practice in scaling a video conferencing platform includes temporarily modifying "non-essential" capabilities to ensure the user experience remains strong.
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic increased demand for its Microsoft Teams video conferencing capabilities, the company made temporary modifications to elements of their service that they felt would have the least impact on the user experience, including changes to video resolution and increases to the interval in which they show another party typing.
  • The company communicated these temporary changes via the following messaging: "To best support our Microsoft 365 customers worldwide and accommodate new growth and demand during these unprecedented times, we're making temporary adjustments to select non-essential capabilities."

Ensure Security Is Optimized During Growth

Offer Free Versions of Premium Tools

  • Google Hangouts is offering free advanced features for G-Suite and Education customers until the first of July.
  • Microsoft Teams is offering a six-month free trial of their premium service.
  • Avaya offered their "Avaya Spaces" tool for "cloud meeting and collaboration" for free, supporting free conferencing for up to 200 participants.
  • In response to a 22X growth in demand for their Webex videoconferencing tool, Cisco expanded their free features, including support for 100 participants and unlimited usage with no time restrictions.

Leverage Partnerships for "In-Product" Distribution

  • Much of Zoom's initial growth is attributed to partnerships, which allowed them to "integrate their solution with existing B2B service providers and leverage the distribution of these companies."
  • The partnerships offer Zoom users a seamless experience, along with additional partner benefits, including scheduling, conference, and storage
  • Zoom's "integrated app marketplace" allow users to access multiple services via the same dashboard.

Additional Best Practices

  • Some additional, more general best practices for scaling a business that may be applicable include getting feedback from clients and customers (to ensure growth is meeting their needs), ensuring access to funding that can support future growth, cultivating a collaborative company culture, and ensuring efficient and effective internal communication (e.g, by developing a communication strategy that limits chaos and confusion).

Summary of Early Findings Relevant to the Goals

  • In this first hour, we were unable to find a pre-compiled or specific list of best practices for scaling a video conferencing company. Instead, we identified several successful video conferencing companies who are well-known in the industry (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex) and identified strategies that these companies employed to scale their own business (both prior to COVID-19 and to manage traffic and grow as a result of increased demand due to COVID-19).
  • With this approach, we identified some best practices in scaling a video conferencing business, which includes investing in technology and infrastructure to manage demand, addressing security concerns, considering staffing needs, developing "free" options that allow users to trial premium features, and developing partnerships to help expand distribution channels.
  • We also identified several additional best practices in scaling a business (not specific to video conferencing) that might be considered relevant.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address your goals.
  • Recommendations reflect the information we were able to uncover in early research.


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