The current crisis has seen businesses in all walks of life having to innovate in order to keep going.

    Whether it’s remote working or having to move all operations online, companies are doing whatever they can to keep working as near to capacity as possible.

    Many firms have looked to technologies such as video communications app Zoom to enable as seamless a transition to home working as possible.

    But as its popularity surges and amid serious security concerns, is Zoom the right answer for your business?

    Let's look at Zoom in a bit more detail, and consider some of the other options available. 

    Zoom

    Digital video communication has quickly proven itself superior to old school telephone conferencing, which can be patchy at best and can make it hard to follow the conversation when there are no visual cues to support the discussion. 

    The dominant firm of the moment in this space is Zoom, a US company with operations in China.

    You'll know by now Zoom allows you to see and speak to multiple people on one screen, with functionality to make it clear who's speaking to help avoid people talking over each other.

    The benefits for advisers are clear, both internally and for client-facing calls. It allows for a 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 are premium/paid for services that offer extra features such as unlimited calling, greater numbers of participants and extra cloud recording storage. 

    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 NASA, amid concerns their private meetings could be interfered with by hackers.

    However, others argue these security concerns can easily be addressed by setting passwords and creating virtual waiting rooms so you can approve who attends your calls before they join.

    The alternatives

    Of course, Zoom isn't the only app advice firms can turn to.

    Microsoft Teams is another option and arguably offers much greater security of information with data encryption, two-factor login authentication and other advanced security and compliance features.

    The added bonus is the software comes packaged with Microsoft Office.

    However, it's worth being aware of the potential impact on clients. 

    For clients who don't have this installed on their device already (which is more common than you might think), they might struggle in getting it installed.

    FaceTime is another option, particularly for one-to-one client calls. 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, or whoever you're contacting) must have an Apple product - an iPhone or iPad for example - to be able to access it.

    Other ways of working

    As we settle in to working during lockdown, client security and confidentiality clearly has to come first.

    The signing of documents is an issue that's come to the fore of late, with the debate around the use of electronic signatures gaining momentum.

    Technology such as Docusign is one solution, while some firms have moved to accepting and using scanned documents while they explore the options available. 

    Most modern smartphones also come with a 'document scanning' feature in the phone’s camera.

    It’s not perfect, but it will do the job. If you adopt this approach it's worth making sure the documents are legible, and sent over via a secure channel, such as encrypted email.

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