This piece was originally posted on Illuminate
The crisis has seen businesses in all walks of life having to innovate to function. Whether it’s remote working, or having to move all operations solely to online, companies are trying whatever they can to keep function as near to full capacity as possible.
To enable things like remote working, many businesses are looking to new technologies – like video communications app Zoom – to enable as seamless a transition to home working as possible.
But amid serious security concerns, is Zoom the answer?
Perhaps the one technological innovation that has come to the fore like no other in this crisis is digital video communication.
The medium has quickly proven itself superior to old-school phone conferencing which can be at best tetchy and confusing when there are no visual cues around discussion.
The ubiquitous medium of the moment comes from a firm called Zoom. Zoom is a US company which has some operations in China, and it has quickly come to dominate the space.
Zoom allows businesses to view and speak to multiple people on one screen, with clever functionality to make it clear who is speaking to help avoid multiple people talking over each other.
The benefits for advisers from this – both internally and for client facing calls – are clear, allowing for a much easier discussion that is as near to face-to-face as possible.
It is also free to use, up to a point. The first 40 minutes of a call are free, at which point it cuts out. However, there is a premium service that offers unlimited calling and other perks.
The company has seen daily users jump from 20 million to 200 million – a staggering increase – amid the pandemic.
The downside is that security issues have been raised around how secure the app is, with many high-profile instances of calls being hacked.
Many companies have banned the app for employees, including Google and even NASA, amid concerns their private meetings could be interfered with by hackers.
However, others argue these security concerns can be easily cured by setting passwords and creating virtual waiting rooms so you can approve who attends your calls.
Zoom is not the only app that advice businesses can turn to. Microsoft Teams is another option and it may be a better bet for some.
Teams offers much greater security of information with data encryption, two-factor login authentication and other advanced security and compliance aspects.
So far so good, especially as the software comes packaged with Microsoft Office. However, be aware that any client that doesn’t have this installed on their own device (more common than you might think) might get into strife trying to arrange to install it.
FaceTime is another option for one-to-one client calls in particular. All FaceTime calls have end-to-end encryption via Apple’s software, with a unique reference number attributed to them.
The only issue with FaceTime is that clients (or staff, if that is who you are contacting) must have an Apple product – an iPhone or iPad for example – to be able to access it.
Amidst the flurry of new tech for us to use and enjoy during the lockdown, client security and confidentiality clearly come first.
The signing of certain key documents is something of a conundrum, but it can be tackled by new technology such as Docusign. However, often the best solution is the simplest one. In place of complex and potentially expensive secure digital signature programs, using good old scanners or even fax (lawyers in the room please raise a hand) can still help achieve the same outcome.
If neither of those two technologies are available, most modern smartphones come with a “document scanning” feature in the phone’s camera. It’s not perfect, but it will do the job. Just make sure the documents are then sent over a secure channel, such as email.