User Feedback: The Sudden Ubiquity of the Virtual Meeting

Everyone is talking about the new normal. It’s a world where online is a lifeline and IT is keeping business flowing even though office buildings are empty. We’re all having to discover new ways to live, work, and interact.

Virtual meetings suddenly became ubiquitous overnight. They’re now woven into every aspect of our lives. And it’s not just work meetings and family gatherings. News shows, gym classes, and D.J. dance parties are happening on video platforms. Saturday Night Live’s first remotely-produced show even included a cringe-worthy spoof of a work-from-home meeting.

This enormous global stress test is producing some interesting data on how we use online meeting platforms. A month after U.S. colleges and businesses began sending their people home to learn, teach, and work, J.D. Power fielded a survey to discover how different platforms are perceived.

Adapting to the Virtual Life

While it’s sobering news that nearly all of J.D. Power’s survey respondents had been impacted in some way by COVID-19, many were rapidly adapting to life in quarantine. Most people now have no choice but to keep in touch with clients, colleagues, and family through virtual channels. Users who are already familiar with the features and interface of a video platform have been coaching others through their first meetings, accelerating adoption of these services.

At the time of the J.D. Power survey in early April, 2020, 43% of respondents had already experienced a change in work conditions and were working from home. Nearly two thirds had used an online meeting platform that week. This provided a large pool of users to give feedback on their meeting experience.

Uncovering Opportunities for a Better User Experience

Reliability and ease of use will be in the spotlight now that online meeting platforms are in high demand. J.D. Power found that the most common complaints were related to user error like participants fumbling with the mute button. These issues will likely dissipate with continued practice. However, other complaints point to a need for improved platform reliability – users reported garbled audio, lag, lost connections, and other problems with audio or video. As people try out a variety of platforms, they’ll gravitate toward their favorites based on real as well as perceived strengths and weaknesses.

Platform Variety Without Brand Loyalty

J.D. Power found that more than half the people they spoke to were using two or more online meeting platforms. Outside their office infrastructure, workers are discovering what works best in their home environment. They’re also flexing to accommodate friends or colleagues who use different tools. Pricing and features will influence which platform is chosen for personal versus business use.

Survey data reflects the fact that online meeting platforms have focused their strategies on the needs of different market segments. Teams, Webex, and GoToMeeting are being used nearly exclusively for business purposes. Already sensing an opportunity, Microsoft announced this month that Teams will be available for the home market through specially-priced personal and family plans.

Zoom, the most popular platform, is relied upon equally for personal and business connections, according to survey data. The overnight adoption of Zoom for education and small business use has created new segments of video meeting fans. This doesn’t necessarily translate to brand loyalty. Collaboration and document sharing tools are likely to entice teachers, students, and work groups to a more robust cloud-based platform like Microsoft Teams.

No Need to Wait on Migrating to the Cloud

While all this isn’t much of a surprise, at BitTitan we are seeing an acceleration of cloud migrations to support work-from-home activities as well as business continuity. In the initial weeks of the pandemic, some MSPs had clients putting projects on hold. Now many customers are pressing for more urgent completion timelines. If your company needs to migrate to the cloud to support your distributed workforce, we’ve assembled a toolkit with tips and best practices that will allow you to shortcut the initial phases.

Many of us at BitTitan are working from home as well, but we’re always happy to consult with you using your favorite online meeting platform. An old fashioned phone call works, too! The good news is that much of the IT work needed for cloud migrations can be done remotely with BitTitan’s SaaS-based technology.

MigrationWiz makes it easy to migrate to the cloud and support work-from-home teams. Contact us today!

IT Leaders Evaluate Remote Workforce Preparedness [Research Findings]

Almost overnight, companies around the world were asked to send their employees home in order to quell the spread of COVID-19. With laptops and personal PCs on desks and kitchen tables, the professional workforce had no choice but to adapt to remote work. IT, security, compliance, and other support staff scrambled to accommodate suddenly dispersed workers. Many IT employees are now also working from home.

At BitTitan we were curious about the impact of this sudden workplace paradigm shift. In April, we had the opportunity to co-sponsor an in-depth Osterman Research survey of IT decision makers and influencers. The resulting whitepaper, How Well Was IT Prepared for COVID-19?  IT Preparedness for a Complete Remote Workforce, offers insights for decision makers as they navigate the current situation and refine future contingency plans.

Osterman Research talked to 400 IT decision makers in early April, 2020, for their perspectives on how well companies were prepared to move the vast majority of their employees off site. Now that remote work has become ubiquitous, survey respondents were asked how their operations have been impacted. The results are mixed: Osterman found both negative and positive outcomes.

The Good and the Bad

Not surprisingly, some aspects of the shift to remote work have gone better than others. Employees caught on quickly to communications and remote meetings, but Osterman found areas that concerned IT decision makers, including security, compliance, and data backup. This white paper is rich with thought-provoking details and insights that can help guide planning as weeks turn into months and remote work becomes the “new normal.”

At BitTitan we’re particularly interested in what IT leaders say about how pandemic-related work-from-home strategies will change their cloud migration initiatives. While some companies have understandably put a hold on migration projects, we’ve seen others accelerating their move to the cloud. Many IT teams have been able to complete migrations remotely with our SaaS-based MigrationWiz tool.

[For an expanded view on migrations, you’ll also want to check out A Conversation About Migrations With Mark Kirstein of BitTitan, part of the Osterman Research Podcast.]

What we’re learning today will have immense impact on the future of IT, especially when it comes to updating business continuity plans and corresponding infrastructure. Even after the current crisis, many workers will be allowed, encouraged, or expect to work remotely. This leads to questions of how IT strategies will change, how management policies and best practices will need to evolve, and what this means for an organization’s ability to innovate and collaborate.

We’re pleased to share this in-depth research with you.

Fully-Remote Migrations when Speed is of the Essence

As work-from-home orders were implemented in response to the global pandemic, some of our colleagues feared cloud migration projects would be cancelled or set on the back burner. Many companies did change priorities due to economic distress, but we also saw IT teams getting pressure to speed up migrations in order to support remote workforces.

At BitTitan we designed MigrationWiz to make migrations fast and easy, which means companies can take advantage of the benefits of the cloud sooner. And now, of course, it’s  more important than ever that MigrationWiz is 100% SaaS. This allows at-home IT teams to implement projects from wherever they are, flexing around the needs of the organization as well as the bandwidth limitations being imposed by cloud service providers.

Fast cloud migrations have been a hallmark of MigrationWiz for years, but most of our customers are still fans of a methodical approach. When demands of the business collapse your timetable, you need to be able to get the job done while at the same time assuring the highest standards of accuracy and security.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln

The art of planning

Anyone who has executed a major project knows that planning is the key to a successful outcome and to ultimately shortening time to completion. The best way to prepare for any migration project is with knowledge, support, and access to the right resources.

If you’re new to cloud migrations, you’ll want to build your team’s knowledge base before getting started. You could do this by recruiting and hiring full-time employees with cloud experience. But this is time consuming and expensive. That is, if you’re able to find qualified candidates at all.

Many companies choose to work with an MSP. This is usually a prudent choice, depending on the size of the project, but it’s still important for the internal team to be well informed to avoid any pitfalls. That’s why we assembled our Remote Workforce Enablement Kit, with all the resources and training you need to jump start your migration knowledge.

Avoid common pitfalls

Problems can crop up during IT projects when unanticipated issues are encountered. The good news is, this isn’t uncharted territory. One issue that can create stumbling blocks is failure to communicate a clear business case. Presenting a cogent strategy is vital to gaining C-level buy-in and for making sure your program receives the attention and budget it needs to stay on track. A thoughtful planning process also aligns all of your stakeholders when it’s time to assign priorities. In short, a clear strategy defines the “why” for the “what” of migration.

When you’re building your business case, the first thing you need is detailed and accurate information. This is not a time for trial and error, or for diving into online rabbit holes. Your business case won’t write itself, but we have done the research for you to fill out those crucial data points.

Add speed to what you need

Another common migration pitfall is the belief that you have to migrate everything at once. Some workloads will be much easier to move than others, allowing you to score quick wins.  This allows you to realize early benefits from having key applications running in the cloud sooner. The fact is that many organizations operate in a hybrid model – on-premises and in the cloud – for a period of time as they stage their migrations. In addition, there will usually be archives that need to be cleaned up before they’re moved, and it makes sense to allocate some time to that task.

We have resources to help you prioritize your migration workloads, speeding to the cloud what will make a the biggest impact. Preparing now – and knowing the lay of the land – will make for a faster and smoother process.

A major consideration is, as always, going to be security. Unfortunately, we’re seeing heightened threats in these turbulent times as bad actors attempt to take advantage of hastily implemented work-from-home environments. With MigrationWiz, your team can manage your entire migration remotely while at the same time reinforcing security best practices throughout the project.

Make it look easy

At BitTitan we like to make you look good by providing everything you need to prepare for your migration, then keeping you well supported throughout the process. One way you can jump-start your knowledge is to assign individual team members as subject matter experts on specific topics. Our Remote Workforce Enablement Kit includes guides and how-tos for migrations to Office 365, G Suite, and Exchange, as well as in-depth demo videos. With all the resources you need in one place, it won’t take much time to level-set very member of your migration team. It’s also an opportunity for team members to add valuable skills to their toolkit.

Accelerate your move to the cloud with MigrationWiz and our Remote Workforce Enablement Kit. Urgency driven by changing work-from-home demands doesn’t mean cutting out crucial planning and stakeholder involvement. With our resources at hand, you can get to work faster and have the whole team working from a solid roadmap.