Zoom has been a crucial tool for many people in the past two years. It has given us a way to communicate with others in personal and professional capacities. To Ricky Kapur, head of Asia Pacific at Zoom, the big question is how the video conferencing platform will still be part of people’s lives in the future.
Oasis recently spoke with Kapur to find out what Zoom is doing to ease people’s mental fatigue caused by serial video conferencing. He also shared novel examples of the ways some users are using the tool to connect with each other.
This interview has been edited and consolidated for clarity and brevity.
Oasis (OS): How is Zoom being used to create new dimensions in existing business operations?
Ricky Kapur (RK): One example is Cue, a successful and innovative fashion store in Australia that mainly serves women. In the past, online shopping involved browsing items on a single e-commerce page. But Cue placed a “contact online” icon on their page, which gives you a live beam into a store, and you can speak to a professional stylist through Zoom. There are parallel use cases in banking, healthcare, education, and other sectors.
In banking, let’s say you’re seeking a loan to buy a home, a portion of this process will be done online. Imagine having a conversation in a pop-up window, where you can show your ID card and do eKYC (electronic know your customer)—an important step to verify who you are. And then, you can read the contract, do redlining, and sign the document electronically.
This entire journey can be done within one Zoom window, through which your relationship manager or mortgage consultant can work with you. Zoom can make our lives more productive.
OS: Aside from the digitization of business operations, what are some opportunities in video conferencing that you feel people aren’t aware of?
RK: There are other cases around healthcare. We’re entering a phase where we’ll have the ability to receive quality healthcare, receive diagnoses, and be issued prescriptions through a virtual experience with a doctor or a clinician. Here in Singapore, we’re fortunate to have great healthcare. But there are underserved and underprivileged communities in many countries. In the future, we will bring quality healthcare to these communities.
OS: How do you prevent you and your team from becoming “Zoomed out”?
RK: Video exhaustion is real. We take “meeting fatigue” very seriously at Zoom.
I personally have many ways to mitigate it. First, have shorter meetings. Have a meeting that’s 25 minutes or 55 minutes long so you get a five-minute break between that and the next one. Take regular breaks. Clear out your schedule. Turn the video off. Sometimes video is critical, but it may not be that important in other scenarios. Maintaining mental wellness is superbly important to all of us. Leaders and managers need to be more respectful of the realities of this. There are many things people can do to modulate the experience.
OS: How does Zoom address this problem?
RK: There are a few things we’re doing on the technology front.
First, we’ve introduced Zoom apps to help create a more fun experience. We’ve partnered with 50 apps that are deeply integrated into the Zoom experience. We’ve also created a USD 100 million fund for developers who want to build on Zoom. Some of these apps are just about creating fun experiences, such as a game called Heads Up! Sometimes you need that kind of thing in what are otherwise serious meetings. We’ve created wellness apps that provide certain experiences that are becoming part of the broad experience of telecommuting.
We’ve also added a number of productivity and collaboration features to Zoom apps in order to make Zoom meetings a lot more productive. You can get things done within one window with this action-oriented approach.
I think, as individuals, we all need to think about our own company culture and ask, “Is it okay for us to turn the video off? Can we have shorter meetings? Can we say no to certain meetings?”
OS: How have you engaged your team as a leader throughout the pandemic?
RK: I won’t say it’s been easy.
There are so many different dimensions to this. One involves fatigue and motivation. We’ve done so many things to keep our teams engaged and motivated within a virtual platform, especially at a time when it’s not possible to meet face to face.
But a few things are becoming more and more important. I think we have to think about inclusion. In a meeting, how do you ensure that every voice is heard? The good news is features like “raise your hand” make sure every voice, rather than just the loudest voice, can be heard.
OS: Can you share one example you’ve encountered where users leverage Zoom to do interesting things?
RK: Recently, 273,000 monks used Zoom to celebrate Makha Bucha Day, one of the most important Buddhist holidays in Thailand. We’ve reached a scale where 270,000 people can use the platform at the same time, and that has a community angle to it. Zoom was also used this way for the Singapore National Day.