Full Transcript

George Kamide:

This is the Zero Hour I'm George Kamide.

 

Ashley Stone:

I'm Ashley Stone.

 

George Kamide:

And today's guest is Irwin Lazar, Vice President and service director of Nemertes research. And he specializes in collaboration technologies and unified communications. Very much top of mind with the work from home environment these days.

 

Ashley Stone:

Yes, we talk all things, collaboration, love that he can actually measure the ROI of adopting the tool and then really gets into the human aspect of usability and adoption of tools that are actually creating efficiencies in the organization.

 

George Kamide:

That's right. And as ever, we are still recording in our own home offices and we saw him in his but I would say that this is the critical technology it's important to understand, but also not just for this moment as a lot of companies will be carrying this technology forward. So without further ado, I give you Irwin Lazar.

 

Ashley Stone:

So at the time of this recording, we are all still under stay at home orders. We're talking from our athome offices. Interestingly enough Irwin your area of research includes unified communications and collaboration platforms. So I'd love to know how has your work routine changed during this time?

 

Irwin Lazar:

So for me not work routine, hasn't changed as I've worked from home before the pandemic. So I've been working from home now for 14 years. So not a big change personally, I guess the biggest one is having, you know, a college student and a high school, senior or junior. So having them around and fighting for bandwidth contention and so on has probably been the biggest personal change. But, you know, I think what we're seeing in our research is just tremendous shift to work from home. We published some data back in early April that shared about 91% of companies now supported work from home. That was up from 63% prior to the pandemic. And on average, about 72% of employees are now working from home, which is more than double what it was.

 

George Kamide:

Right. Yeah. And so this is all old hat to you really, but in terms of your clients, you know, it sounds like from that data that in terms of work from home environments, but also I saw some other data on the Nemertes site that said about 70% of the organizations that you had benchmark are using team collaboration apps. So that includes Microsoft Teams, Slack Cisco WebEx teams. When talking with your clients, are you hearing is it apprehension? Are they looking in the short term, are they coming to you for like long-term strategic thinking? How are they thinking about deploying that technology?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, I think right now it's kind of panic. You know, we need to get people home quickly and we need to be able to keep up and running. So I've seen a couple of different buckets, I guess. So the one, you know, the, the ones that are having the easiest time of it are ones that are already supported work from home. And maybe they had an environment where people could work from home a handful of days per week, that they're now, you know, a hundred percent work from home. The second one are the ones that we're planning on supporting work from home, and they didn't really have the tools in place like video conferencing and team collaboration. And they're rushing to get those out the door and get people up and running as quickly as possible. And the third ones are the ones that really caught blindsided, or they operate in an environment where they can't have people working from home. So maybe they're, you know, defense related or in a regulated industry, they have contact center agents. And so on who can't, who can't function from home. Those are the ones I think that are struggling the most.

 

George Kamide:

Yes. I mean, surprisingly I think in the technology space, you know, a sudden work from home situation doesn't sound like it should be a heavy lift. I read an article where VM Ware was able to basically take 35,000 employees and go work from home like the next day, but they had sort of been prepared for that, but we've also heard from a large insurance broker. The joke was that they were told to work from home and like people were literally picking up their desktops and monitors that meaning desktop computers and trying to lift those out of the building because that's what they thought that they needed. Yeah. You might get stopped by security for a different reason. Well, so now at least here in Virginia, we're entering, I guess almost week eight and there's already some States talking about opening up. I imagine that presents a tricky operational organization for any of your clients or really any organization that has operations in multiple States. Right? You have some locations might be going back to physical work, but maybe they actually have to space the desks a little further. Have you heard any of that about how they're trying to cope with sort of multi hybrid environments?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, I think there's a lot of unknowns. I think my expectation and the conversations I've had with our clients that are really focused on, they don't want to bring people back until they're sure it's safe, unless, you know, again, the scenario where you have to have people in the office, I mean, I'm sure a retail organization or healthcare or whatever, but if you have that option to continue to allow people to work from home, we expect that people will do that even after their restrictions drop, simply because nobody really knows right now that there's a fear that once people start coming back and some of the restrictions ease case count starts to rise again. And no one wants to take that chance. So I think you raised a good point as well, and no one knows what the workplace is going to look like in the future.

 

Irwin Lazar:

You know, the odds of us going back to open workspaces, where a lot of people are packed into a fairly small area, probably won't be happening anytime soon. And even companies that reopen may be limited in how many people they can have in the office. So we're, we're mostly what I've heard in both talking to clients. And some of the research we're doing is a lot of wait and see, you know, we're, we're fine with work from home. We want to address that scenario and optimize it. We want to make sure that, you know, we've got the right tools in place that we're able to engage with people that are working from home, able to offer security that we know that, you know, that it's equal to what they had in the office, but we're not quite ready, I think yet to start figuring out what the future is going to look like. Cause no one really knows at this point.

 

George Kamide:

Great.

 

Ashley Stone:

So when you have clients come out and maybe they haven't optimized their tools for work from home, where do you tell them to start?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah. And everything we've advised there are two fundamental technologies. One is video you know, again, I don't think you can effectively engage with people that are working remotely without leveraging video. So having a video meeting application, secondly, is team collaboration. You know, I was talking to somebody earlier today that if you're working from home and your only interaction with your coworkers is sending them an email and maybe getting on an audio bridge is a really painful experience. And so having a team collaboration application like Slack, Microsoft Teams, et cetera that allows you to have informal communications that allows you to set up the in social channels. We see a lot of interest in that that allows you to kind of, you know, again, mimic some of that informal conversation that happens within the office where you know, if I want to ask somebody a question, either I look across the desk, at them if we're in an open space or I walk down a couple of cubes and I can do that very easily in a team space. But I can incorporate that conversation into the context of a project into a task. I can incorporate data files and so on into the conversation. So I think those are the two bedrock technologies for work at home success.

 

George Kamide:

Yeah. I thought it was an interesting turn of phrase in one of your recent blogs on the Nemertes site. I think it was just phrased as moving from email and instant messaging to like a persistent messaging application. I thought that was an interesting use of that word that it was, I think that's what you're saying is it's, it's trying to take one off interactions and put it into a space where it is a replication of the office, right? It's like, it's a persistent workplace that you can have a conversation about our project. Great. Talk to you in an hour, go away, come back instead of trying to like sort through your inbox and find an email thread or something like that.

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, exactly. That's really the big difference between instant messaging is that there's no real persistence if someone's messaging clients have that ability, but very few or none that I know of that had the ability to incorporate, you know, alerts from applications, file attachments, the tasks related to project planning and so on. So really the big change in team collaboration is that contextual engagement, you know?

 

George Kamide:

Um great. Yeah.

 

Ashley Stone:

Could you share your journey to becoming an industry analyst at Nemertes?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah. so my background was initially in enterprise networking. My degree was in information systems and started out working on on Novell networks dating myself a little bit. And then somebody handed me this thing called a router and said, you need to learn IP. So I became an IP router administrator and then went to work for a company that was based in Sterling, Virginia that was developing a tool for network administrators to help them automate development of processes and policies. And we kind of evolved into being an analyst firm and got acquired by an analyst firm. So made the jump from hands-on networking to covering networking related technologies. And then had an opportunity to shift into voice and per voice within the collaboration. So I've been an analyst now for about seven years.

 

George Kamide:

And how did you see the shift in kind of the problem solving challenges? It strikes me that, you know, when you're in the trenches, you're trying to work on a specific business problem. Whereas the industry analyst, you actually need to analyze a problem, but also see a couple of years out. So could you talk about like, what is the, the change and kind of the mental mode and how you get it, all that information?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, I think the biggest one is I'm not getting called at three in the morning when something breaks, so I'm not missing those days. It was supporting an international data network and so that was pretty routine, you know? But yeah, you're, you're, I think the biggest change of what we're looking at it, or what I'm looking at as an analyst is we're trying to understand what is the technology mean to enterprises? How can they benefit? How will it change their culture? How do they evaluate and measure success? So we're certainly still in the trenches of trying to help enterprises pick the right technology. But a lot of our research has focused on, you know, okay, if I'm implementing team collaboration, how do I do it successfully? What are companies that are seeing measurable benefits in terms of realizing in terms of productivity improvement, cost savings, revenue enhancements, what are they doing differently from other companies? So where I spend a lot of my time is trying to both figure out what are the metrics to measure that define success and then correlate what are successful companies doing differently from those that are less successful as we'd like to politely put it.

 

George Kamide:

Right. Not to optimize for success? Yes, we, I was very intrigued by the ROI metrics. We'll come, we'll come back to that for sure. So as a, as a veteran, uh remote worker, but now you are stuck at home with your teenagers. Do you have any favorite work from home hacks that you would, that you would share with anyone who's new to the enterprise?

 

Irwin Lazar:

The virtual backgrounds are awesome. I probably don't want to see what's going on behind me right now. But you know, I think the core areas, the core issues are core. You know, if I had like a handful of tips and I've worked with a number of friends and family that are now working from home that are, you know, kind of come to you and ask what, what, what should I do? You know, make sure you have a good headset, make sure you have a good office or working location, potentially hopefully one where you can close the door and get some privacy. If you're doing a lot of video calls, having good lighting is important you know, front facing lighting that you can set up in such a way that it's not right in your eyes. And, and again, one of the challenges I think for a lot of folks as they've moved home and now they're on video all day long is, you know, if you're on an audio call, you get up, you walk around, you know, you get a drink. If you're on a video call, you kind of feel like I'm glued to the screen. I can't leave because someone will think I'm no longer in the meeting. And it requires a cultural change for organizations to say, you know what, let's take a five minute break, every ten, every 30, or, you know what, it's okay if people need to get up and turn their cameras off for a little bit fine, you know? So a lot of it becomes instituting the right culture to, to support work from home.

 

George Kamide:

Yeah. That's interesting. I think that mirrors the same cultural changes that were required once you started having multi-regional operations. Like if I think about the evolution from, you know, these large HQs like the GEs or the IBM's of the past to just the Polycomm in the conference room, right. We all had to relearn how to talk in a way that you weren't just always talking. I mean, it still happens where you're talking over one another, but you had to leave gaps. You had to say does everyone follow? Can you hear me? I mean, it was just like these little check-ins that matter, but also to your point about being in front of the computer make sure that you're wearing real pants in case you have to stand up. Yeah, definitely important. I remember being having to do a webinar very recently and realizing that I was, you know, minutes before that I was still wearing a hoodie, but this was going to be client facing. So I had to go get like real clothes on because I was going to have video on. So that was, that was my own recent adventure. Also, this was a really good impetus to clean this office, which was a lot messier before when I worked in our HQ. So it's been, it's been good so far.

 

Irwin Lazar:

It's been interesting seeing the decline in formality, I guess, you know, we, we started using video exclusively for our meetings about two years ago. And even with clients now, you know, it's okay if there's a pet in the background or a kid walks in or something like that, you know, especially now with, with a lot of people, not able to put their kids in the daycare, that's what they were doing. You know, people are more accepting of a mess behind you and so on. So that's, I guess been one of the benefits of everyone where everybody's in the same boat now, and everybody's more comfortable with video than they used to be. So I've seen a drop in formality. Yeah, for sure.

 

Ashley Stone:

That's great. I love that. So you've been specializing in team collaborations, software. What has been the trend over the last few years that you've been observing? What have you seen in the last few months?

 

Irwin Lazar:

So I started looking at the team collaboration space in 2017. There was a company called it was at the time Siemens now unify that introduced something called circuit, which I'm trying remember they had a project name was called project danceable. Then it became circuit and had a chance to see a demo of that and thought, wow, this is revolutionary. They really had the idea that everybody else has bought into some years before anybody else. So since then you've seen Slack, Microsoft teams, Cisco WebEx teams that last year and had a product for awhile and a whole bunch of other products that are out there. And our data shows by the end of 2021, we expect about 70% of companies will have implemented a team collaboration solution in many cases.

 

Irwin Lazar:

Now that's just, it's the new UC interface. So, you know, RingCentral any by eight and all the UC vendors have all changed their UI. So that it's a team centric, collaboration function. We have seen just thinking about correlations with success. We published some data points earlier this year that show the companies that implemented team collaboration enterprise-wide had significantly higher return on investment in terms of gains in productivity and revenue savings and cost savings and so on companies that extended into the contact center so that agents could, you know, say I'm on the phone with somebody or chatting with somebody, let me loop in somebody from the back office and get a problem solved. We see a lot of application integrations everything from project management to real time communications as well. And then finally, we're starting to see this change in view of team collaboration.

 

Irwin Lazar:

A lot of the early conversations I had when I was talking to clients or speaking publicly, you know, two, three years ago, or, Oh, it's just, I am, you know, what's the difference between this and that or it's another messaging app. I don't need it. I've already got 16 other ways of communicating. Now we're seeing companies thinking about this as this is the new hub. You know, you don't worry about your inbox as much. You come to your team collaboration space, and that's where you look at your alerts and your calendar appointments for the day and data that came in from applications, conversations with coworkers, with even customers and partners and so on. And again, the few, the only about 25, 30% of companies are at that point where they viewed team collaboration that way. But those that do see again, significantly higher return investment.

 

George Kamide:

Yes, Ashley and I previously worked at an organization for chat. We had Skype for business, which I know is being sunset and some teams, it was a big agency. And so certain client teams were trying to make the move individually into teams. Cause we did have an instance of that. And it was because, you know, on the, IM was really only like maybe one to a few one to many, but if you had multiple people in multiple offices on one client account teams was just better for always syncing on those projects for being able to like quickly talk about a certain project ideas or check in on deadlines. And then you had all of your files there as well. And I was like, Oh right, this is clearly better than just sending LOL emoji.

 

Irwin Lazar:

I'll share a story in our company. We were using chatter in Salesforce, which is an absolute nightmare from a usability perspective. And we were using consumer Skype. We were, you know, a small company about 10 people. And we, we looked at this, heard about this thing called Slack. I said, well, let's try it. A handful of us started using it. And you know, it drove adoption more than anything else. It was the ability to send animated gifs or jifs however you pronounce it. So everybody started taking advantage of that to send funny pictures to one another, fortunately there were appropriate. And from there it just mushroom, Oh, well I need to get on this. I need to send a funny picture. And then we started realizing that, wow, this really, again, being a virtual company and this really changes our culture and the idea that we could ever go back to email and know the worst thing you can do at my company is send an email to another employee.

 

Irwin Lazar:

It's a really bad idea. Why are you sending me email? So, you know, we still use email externally starting to play around with some of the shared channels, but you know, that, that fun aspect. And I think a lot of the same things with Zoom you know, I talked to a lot of folks who, well, why do you like Zoom virtual backgrounds have it? They're fuzzy. You know, you get a little distorted, I don't know, but it's fun. We put up pictures of the kids and goofy pictures we find on the internet and so on. So we often from an IT perspective, lose sight of, you know, make these apps fun to use and maybe people will actually use them.

 

George Kamide:

Yes. I mean I mean, I think that was it's the double edged sword, right? Because Zoom CEO was pretty clear about saying if it ever came to security or usability, they always erred on the side of usability and then have the unanticipated problems with security, which I think they've addressed for the most part. But I also have a friend who works at Google. I would harangue her about Hangouts because I have some teacher friends who are being told to use Hangouts because of security concerns, but it's, it's totally unusable from trying to like look at a student and talk to them and share a screen at the same time, because if you share a screen your face and the student's face disappears. So, and it was just interesting that like, from the most basic, like inter human interaction level, like that, that seems to be a usability hurdle for a lot of these companies and the people who figure that out faster will get faster adoption rates.

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, no, I agree. I've been teaching classes too. I'm a scout leader. So I've been teaching classes in the evenings to the Scouts and having the Brady bunch style joke the other day that nobody realized the Brady bunch were actually using Zoom. But the, you know, that Brady bunch style checkered square, and being able to call on people and have them raise their hand. And, and even if, like you said, if I share a presentation, I still can can see the students. And so, yeah, it, I couldn't imagine ever doing this on an audio call and, and an old conversation I was having earlier today was, you know, as, as bad as this situation we find ourselves in is this is probably the best possible time it could have happened now because we have these tools. We have these ways of continuing to engage outside of our homes. I couldn't imagine where we would have been, you know, if this was 1985 and we, everybody had to go home you know, probably would have just worked through it and kept going in and dealt with the loss of life. So it's these tools, I think are a lot of ways are allowing us to get through this scenario situation, I guess, a little easily more easily.

 

George Kamide:

Yes. And, and certainly spurring that innovation for that adoption. Right. I think in mid-March Teams was up to 45 million users and then on yesterday's earnings call or up to 75 million. So, you know, in such a, in like maybe a month time, they've increased by seven 70% and Google making Meet for free now. Yeah, there's going to be a big drive in these, in these technologies, for sure. So I did want to return to this notion of ROI because I'm very intrigued by that. And, and your research is actually some of the first that I've seen. And so for the benefit of our listeners, you know, you looked through your clients and your research, and some of these stats are really staggering, such as, you know, reducing the need for meetings by an average of 30% reduced IT spend by an average of 161,000 a year because they've eliminated redundant apps.

 

George Kamide:

Or, I mean, maybe more to the point here more than 20% of your survey respondents have delivered an average revenue gain of $368,000 by improving sales team collaboration. I mean, these are real business outcomes being driven by technology. And I think it's very easy to get wrapped up in kind of technology for technology's sake. But I was wondering if you saw, you know, to your point, that seems like a bit of a silver lining to this COVID pandemic that business operations may have accidentally had to adopt things in a fashion that now have netted them. Great. what is your sense of like the longterm impact of these technologies?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, I think it's, we've, we've seen just a, an acceleration of existing plans and a lot of cases, I mentioned back to that discussion earlier, where there were some companies that were really in good, good shape to go to work from home. There were some that had plans to roll out applications that were kind of struggling to get to that point. Now they've had no choice. And then the others that were kind of caught blindsided. So what we have seen is that this has accelerated existing trends around move to the cloud around use of team collaboration, applications around use of video. It's it's allowed companies to overcome a lot of the resistance. So, you know, there are an awful lot of folks we talked to in the last couple of years that would say, yeah, we rolled out this video solution, but you know, my boss won't get on video.

 

Irwin Lazar:

So therefore nobody gets on video or we, you know, we've got lots of people who just, Oh, my camera's broken. And or people that still insist on sending email as an example, I've seen plenty of those scenarios. So I think that we used to use those data points that you mentioned, we've, we've gathered those for the last couple of years. And we're, we're finding that in a fairly small segment of, of the population that we talked about, 25% of companies are able to gather quantifiable metrics for their collaboration investments. The rest are still of the mindset that, you know, it's not something we do, or we only worry about whether or not it works. Maybe we look at whether or not people are using the tools, but we don't correlate use with any business benefit. I think you'll see more and we're seeing more interest in looking for what is that actual return on investment, Did I save money?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Did I make money? Did I improve productivity? Because at the end of the day, you know, IT always is under increasing scrutiny to justify what it's spending money on. And we found a, you know, six months, a year ago, having conversations with IT, leaders that when we shared some of this data about the benefits of team collaboration, the benefits, meaning applications, they would take that say, okay, now maybe I could get people to start using it. If I say that we're missing out now, I think, you know, you'll see that kind of data continuing to demonstrate the need to maintain these applications, to expand the applications and so on.

 

George Kamide:

I mean, that's interesting. And it strikes me as it could also be if, if you're, I mean, it could either be accidental or it could be intentional, but given the uncertainty of what a post COVID world looks like, but also knowing that a lot of our customers here at SafeGuard are, you know, fortune 500 global 500 brands, and they're not, they are now out of the panic. They are looking at like Q4 and they may be looking at these channels as a strategic, competitive advantage, right? If I'm decreasing meetings and increasing productivity and increasing sales team collaboration, and my competitor is still either dragging their feet or they're kind of in the middle ages of adoption like that, actually I can leapfrog some of my competition. Are you, are you seeing, I know we talked at the top of the call that you're still seeing a little bit of panic, but is anyone coming to you thinking kind of like the long, the long view here, what's the long-term investment?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, I haven't seen it yet. I mean, I'm sure it's happening. I just, haven't talked to folks about it. The one area where we did see organizations trying to get aggressive and differentiate from competitors is embracing digital channels for customer facing communication. So starting to leverage WhatsApp and Facebook messenger and Apple message and so on to enable, you know, if I can communicate with my customers on those services and my competitors, can't you know, there's an option opportunity there. Like the other area where we're seeing a lot of interest in the team, collaboration space is wanting to extend it out to supply chains, customers, partners, whether that's taking advantage of things like Slack share channels or applications like Neo that sit in the middle and, and confederate among this, this disparate messaging platforms or even internally among disparate messaging platforms. So I think you'll see that there'll be, you know, there'll be an expansion once people get comfortable using the team collaboration apps and they see the value in them, and they start to maybe experience some of the returns on investment that we talked about, that they will look for. How can we expand this? What, what other communication collaboration problems are we having? And it really a big one, I think is B2B and B2C.

 

George Kamide:

Yeah. I'm, I'm curious from just a P&L perspective, if, you know, if, if companies can save money by cutting down on physical space and they've seen productivity increase in work from home, there's a temptation of like, do we need a physical office? If you know, I'm just sort of thinking out loud here about some of those implications for the physical space.

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah. I think we will see significant interest in cutting real estate costs. You know, if you look at where the, unfortunately the economic numbers that have been published over the last couple of days are terrible. So companies will be looking at where can I save money? And if they're finding that not only are people productive when they're at home, but maybe they're more productive, you know, there's been some data that has shown that people tend to work a little bit longer, get more tasks done. You know, they cut out the expense of going to lunch or expensive putting gas in the car. And some of it's not pretty much anymore, but you know, a wear and tear on vehicles. There are a lot of advantages to having people work at home.

 

Irwin Lazar:

I think companies are really gonna struggle to find the right balance because for a lot of people it's difficult to be a hundred percent full time at home. It doesn't completely replace the benefit you get from getting people around, you know, conference room table, and being able to share ideas or work on you know, work on, on projects and so on. And, and also building that, you know, that, that bond between people that people feel like they're part of the organization that their work is noticed that they get to know their coworkers. So I don't think work from home will completely replace office environments. I think it will shrink the office again, to, to your question of, you know, again, once people start to realize that that opportunity to save money in real estate costs.

 

George Kamide:

Yeah. I mean, two, two things before I'll turn it back to Ashley, but I remember it was a big deal when Marissa Meyer took over Yahoo and she issued that memo. That was basically no more work from home because she viewed the physical co-location of workers as an essential element of innovation. That was like the idea of the Google bump, right? You would bump into your coworker and have these ideas and which, you know, taken too far led to sort of the open office plan that has been shown repeatedly to not be productive. Our data shows that as well. Our personal experience shows that as well, but also my own curious notice, I never thought that I would miss a whiteboard so much cause we use them a lot in the office. And it's sort of hard to justify making the expense, cause I don't really know how long I'll be here at home, but I, I really miss being able to like stand in a room with Ashley and like sort of think out loud and, and, and get that, which is which is harder to do over the, over the phone.

 

George Kamide:

But yeah, back to you, Ashley,

 

Ashley Stone:

Thanks. So we have talked a lot today about collaboration, which is it's just platforms that are a subset of cloud technologies. So, you know, you had mentioned shifting to the cloud, which isn't really novel anymore, but are there larger cloud trends that you're seeing?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, we've published data for the last three years around telephony showing 2018, it was about 12% of companies that had moved their calling platforms to the cloud by 2019 that was up to about 19%. The 2020 data we published this year showed around 30%. So we see that the era of on-prem applications is rapidly ending as, as companies look to take advantage of cloud and the, this, again, I mentioned, you know, kind of seeing a lot of trends accelerate as a result of COVID, which is, you know, if you were thinking about moving to cloud, you kind of have to now if you want to be able to scale and support a distributed workforce I have seen some I guess one of the trends I'm watching right now is as a result of some of the security issues around Zoom is that companies in regulated industries are definitely concerned about, you know, if I'm, am I putting sensitive business communication on a cloud platform?

 

Irwin Lazar:

And I don't really know how that data is being controlled, who might be able to come in with warrant and get access to that data. You know, so they're, they, haven't in a lot of cases done due diligence. So that's causing companies to start to pay a little bit more attention to security. I think the importance of security is rising up from where it kind of paid lip service to it. Cisos were more worried about data protection of customer data and things like that. Now they're starting to think a little bit more about collaboration security. So I think that's one important trend that we'll see. And then we're, we're seeing some organizations saying, you know what, we can't take that risk. We still need to own our own meeting or team collaboration platform. And we either run that in our data center or we run it on a public cloud instance that we control and we have the encryption keys and so on. So we're having a lot of conversations around encryption, encryption keys, and encryption key management. I think those are really important areas for companies to pay attention to as they're looking at different solutions.

 

George Kamide:

Yeah. And some of our multinational customers there's data sovereignty issues, local laws may require like your AWS instances located in that particular region. Yeah, that's interesting. And I, I think to your point when people first saw Slack or they first saw messenger, or even social media, like LinkedIn and stuff, we'd neglect to think of that as cloud, I think in the public imagination cloud is like data storage, you know, S-3 buckets or whatever. But for example, if your sales team is using sales navigator or they're talking with their clients on LinkedIn, those conversations are essentially being stored in a LinkedIn server, do you know where that is? Do you, do you have access to that data? If they said something that they weren't supposed to and also the speed and scale, right? We had a client for whom we were capturing an archiving about 60,000 Slack messages a day. I mean, it's got several tens of thousands of employees and then once the office closed and they went to work from home, that number soared to 90,000 messages a day. So like just the mass of data being generated is probably a hockey stick curve in growth and also data management necessarily.

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, no, the conversation I have with most folks when they start looking or using Slack specifically is, Oh, can the it folks see our private conversations, you know? And that, that comes up all the time. And even just mine, I pay attention to some of the Slack, social media and message boards. And right now there's that question comes up all the time. And so again, it's one of those where, Hey, this, you know, this tool is cool. Let's use it. Oh, wait a minute. Maybe we should think about what the risks are, what the security architecture is, how we can support compliance and governance needs like data retention that you mentioned. And often that comes in after the fact, it's funny. I mentioned, I started as an analyst covering the voice space and we always found, it took about companies about six months after their voice telephony deployment to start to implement a management solution because they just didn't think about that upfront.

 

Irwin Lazar:

Now, the vendor says it'll work. You know, we don't have anything to worry about six months later, you know, they're having issues with call quality and they start thinking about management. I see that same trend happening around team collaboration, which is, you know, roll it out. Oh, okay. You know, in our experience, we took a week and a half to run into the 10,000 message limit that Slack has. So we switched to the paid product. And then, you know, again, talking to companies, they come later on to starting to think about what happens. If there's a, you know, we had one client that had a sexual harassment lawsuit and under California law, you have to protect all communications between those individuals for 10 years. How do you do that in Slack? You know so companies were still struggling in many cases to figure out how to preserve voicemails. So, you know, having to go to preserve tens or hundreds of thousands of Team messages.

 

George Kamide:

Yeah. I think I distinctly remember that moment in the nineties, when I think the population collectively realized that their emails could be subpoenaed, there was like a record of it. And it's like, if you are using a company paid part of the infrastructure, why would you assume that any of that is private is now beyond me, but to your point, some of these things are so easily deployed that I think the ease with which they're spun up belies some of the more complex considerations, at least from a business or a security standpoint.

 

Irwin Lazar:

And now that there are a handful of vendors that can do things like enterprise key management, giving customers the ability to control their own encryption keys, you know, you're starting to see some vendors trying to use that as a differentiator. So Slack has UKM. Cisco does end to end encryption with UKM symphony has another example. So the ones that are not able to deliver that functionality are trying to catch up or they're downplaying the need for it. And you often hear that too.

 

George Kamide:

Yeah. Yeah. I think yeah. And back to your point, we need help to a school with an MS Teams virtualization. And I think they had no idea that in the first 10 days they would have to somehow scan 124,000 chat messages sometimes at two in the morning with students trying to talk to one another. But yeah, it's definitely requires cloud scale solutions. Cool. Well, I think that that's about the time that we have today, I, I would leave it to you. Irwin, do you have any parting words for anyone who's listening in and trying to navigate these waters in terms of COVID now and, and post COVID? What would you say to them in terms of like your top considerations to take away?

 

Irwin Lazar:

Yeah, I think, you know, we talked a lot about technology, but the bigger challenge I think for organizations is going to be management and human relations. So make sure that you're spending extra time reaching out to people who are working from home, making sure that they feel engaged that you're checking in with them frequently. I, whenever I've hired somebody who was new to that work at home environment, their biggest challenge over the first couple of weeks is does anybody know what I'm doing? And know, certainly there's some people who take advantage of work from home, but that's the exception I found rather than the rule, but it's, it's, you know, I'm not noticed. How do I get my voice out there? How do I feel like I'm contributing and being part of the team? And that requires, you know, again, proactive management, as well as, as encourage people to use the tools that are out there and, you know, monitoring, if we notice, like if someone is not participating in Slack in the first couple of days, and we want to find out why, and often they just they're shy. I don't want to say anything. It might make me look stupid. You know, you got to instill the right culture and to allow people to be able to share ideas free from any of those kinds of concerns. So I think paying attention to the personnel management, leveraging some of these tools to improve, the ability to engage with virtual workers is really in my opinion, the key to success.

 

George Kamide:

Cool. Alright. Well, thank you very much for the time.

 

Irwin Lazar:

Thank you.