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How to avoid conference call calamities

15 April 2020

By Ian Silvera, Account Director

Although having a bad reputation brings a certain fascination, as Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott once noted, it will certainly bring you down. The rock ‘n’ roller’s warning first came in 1977, when China-born billionaire Eric Yung was just seven.

It is somewhat doubtful that Yung, who was then living half way across the world in the Red Dragon’s eastern province of Shandong, had even heard of the Irish band. But he certainly had a rebellious streak of his own, later burning down a neighbour’s chicken shack, and seven would become the budding computer engineer’s lucky number.

Yung moved to Silicon Valley for the first time in 1997, when he joined WebEx, which was acquired by Cisco in 2007. He then decided to create his own video messaging product, Zoom, which went on to acquire unicorn status (a valuation of at least $1bn) in 2017. This was around two years before the company floated on the New York Stock Exchange and saw its shares soar by around 72% on its first day of trading.

Now Zoom, alongside its seven or so peers and rivals, including Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and Houseparty, has become an essential tool to help us work, play and socialise during the lockdown. Our new video-centric world also brings challenges with it, enough, as Lynott would say, to turn a reputation around.

To avoid an undesirable digital downfall, we turned to Digitalis for some top tips. The company, among other things, urged businesses to be vigilant: make sure you keep your conference calls private and if there are uninvited or unannounced guests, drop out of the meeting. You do not want confidential or sensitive information leaking into the wrong hands, whether that’s members of the media, hackers or anyone else.

Organisations should also take into consideration that video conference apps may be new to many employees. To give some scale as to the adoption of the products, Zoom has gone from an impressive 10m to a humungous 200m daily users. Employees, therefore, should be urged to trial the apps, getting to know the settings and various features in order to avoid misuse and exploitation.

When taking personal or work-related video calls, you are essentially inviting an audience into your home. Take similar precautions to having friends or family around by not leaving work documents hanging on a wall or other sensitive information lying around which could be captured on camera.

In a similar vein, there is now no longer a difference between your workplace and homeplace, so make sure you change the status of your applications accordingly to avoid burnout. This is something researchers at the University of Washington have warned of, finding that many smartphone users misunderstood online status indicators

Taken together, these pointers should help you avoid attracting a bad digital reputation amongst the online town.