Blog Post

Why you need technology Plan B (and sometimes C, & D...) (newsletter summary post)

By: Marco Campana
August 14, 2023

Have you ever organized a webinar or online workshop and a presenter can't seem to share, or make their slides viewable? A good webinar plan includes a Plan B. As a host, you probably got a copy of their slides and shared them for the presenter. It's not perfect, but it definitely works.

I remember being part of an event where we almost needed a Plan C. A presenter's internet access went down, so they were going to call into the session, and I would share their slides as they presented. We only ended up having to go to Plan B, but being prepared and having talked about it ahead of time made it all easier to deal with.

When it comes to technology choices for your organization, there are many, in pretty much every category.

Some of those choices will be made by client preference. Things like WhatsApp, Telegram, WeChat, Text/SMS are good examples. We use them because Newcomers prefer receiving information and interacting on those platforms. Others will be made by what's working for everyone and what is cost effective.

But do you have a Plan B for those choices?

Zoom is a good example.

A few years ago, before the pandemic, had you even heard of Zoom? Unlikely. But by 2020 it became as common to use as MS Word. And, as I outlined a bit in an earlier article on privacy and security, Zoom took us on a meandering journey of chaos in technology roll out. From Zoom bombing, to lying about encryption, to providing end-to-end encryption for all of users, etc., it was hard to know whether you could use it in client service delivery or not. It was all a bit hard to take, especially for non-techies reading explosive "Zoom is malware" articles.

The same could be said for WhatsApp after Meta (Facebook) took it over. Can you trust it?

In Zoom's case, it's fair to say that they responded well to the chaotic journey. Pausing development to fix things. Addressing concerns. Hiring privacy experts. Conducting third party security audits. Stuff we're not used to seeing from tech bros like, well, Zuckerberg, and certainly not Musk.

So, last week came as a surprise and not a surprise when stories started coming out about Zoom accessing your meeting content to train their AI tech that resulted in a serious and important backlash against the company.

There was a scramble at Zoom, and then they blogged that "Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, or other communications like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboard, and reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party artificial intelligence models." People are still annoyed at the text in the Terms of Service, which they don't find comforting. Zoom's Founder and CEO posted on LinkedIn to clarify, but some people don't feel like it's all be clarified yet.

The chaos raises a number of important questions. Are you reading and staying up to date on the Terms of Service of the tech you use? I'll admit that I kind of don't always. I rely a bit on a variety of security and privacy experts to sound alarms and to provide coherent analysis. But, yes, that leaves me a bit open. Do you know if the tech you're using is safe to use for the purposes you're using it for? That I do, yes.

Years ago, when Microsoft bought Skype and removed encryption from it, a number of sector orgs abandoned it and moved on to more secure video conferencing platforms. They had to create a Plan B.

You may be wondering if you need a Plan B for Zoom.

The short answer is yes. You should be prepared to move your staff and clients to another platform if necessary.

For many of you, that choice will actually be pretty easy. You'll move from Zoom to MS Teams. Some of you already use both. In some cases, it's Teams internally and Zoom with clients. In other cases, it's a mix of both. In other cases, you use Teams alone. You should also have a Plan B. And it probably shouldn't be Zoom!

I use Zoom for most of my meetings. I'm looking at Jitsi as my Plan B.

For a number of reasons it makes sense any way. Jitsi is a free, secure, and open source video conferencing with collaboration functionality, video directly in browse. No downloads required. You can use it right now, without an account, in your browser (so no app downloads for clients) if you want to. You can also make use of paid versions to incorporate it into your website, app through their Jitsi as a service.

I'd recommend looking at it. But there are many other options available to you in the market.

The point isn't me telling you what to do. It's to have or start having that conversation in your organizations.

Now.

So you're ready and have a plan if you need to move staff and clients to a new platform.

For any tech choices you've made.

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