The ways in which we conduct day-to-day business are shifting rapidly. This is something that was already happening in recent years as a simple result of the advancement of technology. The coronavirus pandemic, however, has sped up the chances, and has led businesses all over the world to transition quickly to new work practices.
Specifics regarding how this is happening vary from one place of business to the next, depending on needs, resources, and so on. Looking at the situation broadly though, it’s clear that a handful of innovative tech companies are largely behind our capability to adjust as we have. Below, we’re going to go into detail on five of those companies leading the way.
Zoom has without a doubt become the defining company of the coronavirus era. In practice, it is one of a number of different video chats — not altogether different from Skype, FaceTime, applications in Google or Microsoft, and so on. Yet as Hackernoon’s post on the “Zoom Boom” points out, we’ve seen this particular company excel past its competition over the course of the pandemic so far. Zoom saw its stock price more than double in the first few months of the pandemic, and at one point — on March 23 — enjoyed 2.13 million downloads in a single day.
The appeal of this video chat is no mystery. It’s a simple, versatile platform people can easily use to connect remotely with work colleagues, whether for one-on-one discussions, team meetings, or even larger presentations. But it’s Zoom’s innovative approach, in part, that has kept it ahead of the pack.
Throughout its rise to prominence, the company has added new features to its video chat platform: multi-pinning features that make chats more accessible by allowing users to arrange viewing windows; new filters and options for lighting and audio control; tools for educators; and so on. The company has done a wonderful job of keeping its service fresh, and as a result has become the most popular go-to for remote workers in need of video chat.
In the past, we have listed Oracle among the ‘10 Most Competitive Tech Companies in the World’, and given this, it’s not much of a surprise that it’s also one of the most innovative. One of the true giants in tech, Oracle is constantly rolling out new initiatives and advancing new services and projects — and inevitably, some of those are proving valuable in our shifting work landscape.
Most notably, after falling behind some competitors in cloud services, Oracle has renewed its focus on this vital work technology, and now offers a full suite of cloud applications. These have been designed and refined to help businesses with everything from financial management, to customer service, to supply chain activity.
And to preserve the spirit and benefits of innovation, these services receive quarterly updates, ensuring that Oracle stays on the cutting edge of cloud tech. Given how vital the cloud is now in our new culture of remote work, this certainly puts Oracle at the forefront of tech companies making a difference.
Microsoft is one of the world’s biggest tech companies, and is thus more or less a given to factor into a broad, tech-driven shift in working practices. What we’re actually pointing out here though is that Microsoft Technology Licensing, LLC — a subsidiary of the larger company meant to handle IP and patents — is having an outsized effect on some of the changes in work practices we’re seeing.
In a sense this is precisely the point of Microsoft Technology Licensing, and its designation as an LLC (whereas Microsoft is a corporation). Per ZenBusiness’s in-depth explainer on LLCs, part of the benefit of this company structure is that it separates business assets, such that owners are not personally liable for claims or lawsuits that may arise.
Microsoft has cleverly opted for this structure so as to house its IP in a company that can independently handle inevitable and frequent legal enforcement of patents. By extension this has helped Microsoft to obtain and maintain a constantly expanding collection of tech-related IP — much of which is relevant to the modern shifts we’re seeing in working practices.
Microsoft has assets relating to video streaming, cloud systems, data management, and countless other significant practices. The company’s rapid and constant internal structural innovation has allowed it to work across all of these areas and ensure that the latest IP is put to use for the good of consumers in the modern working environment.
Much of the focus on tech innovation regarding the way we work revolves around the availability of services — such as cloud computing, video chat, and so on. But there are also some tech companies that have played a part in the evolution of work by actually providing platforms for and access to working opportunities.
This may call to mind recruitment-oriented platforms like ZipRecruiter or Indeed, both of which can be valuable resources during a time of change for workers. But the company we’re focusing on is Upwork — a platform designed to pair contractors with employers, and one which has helped many people struggling under current conditions to find full- or part-time work they can do from home.
Upwork seems to adjust and innovate on a near-continual basis, but of late we’ve seen the company refine search options for employers and provide more options and greater clarity for contractor profiles (most notably in the design and creative categories). In other words, Upwork is striving to make it easier for clients and contractors to find one another and form productive partnerships, at a time when it’s more needed than ever before.
Last but not least is Slack — a company that appears to have taken the lead in remote work communications over some similar competitors in much the same way that Zoom has beaten out Skype and Co. Slack has been a useful platform for a number of years now, providing easy chat, messaging and file-sharing capabilities for businesses. But naturally the pandemic and the ways in which it has changed how we work have made Slack more useful (if not more necessary) than ever before. Through this program, workers operating remotely can stay as connected as they need to.
Slack actually made it onto a Fast Company write-up on the most innovative companies a couple years ago as it was continuing to develop into the platform it is today. But even now, amidst the pandemic, the company is continuing to adapt in helpful ways.
It has made it easier to organize communications, and recently even introduced the new “Slack Connect” feature, which will allow for communication between different organizations without any changes to subscription plans. This may well end up being a crucial addition for businesses facing longer periods of remote work and finding themselves unable to collaborate with partners the way they may once have in the past.
Many additional tech companies are also helping to make a difference. These five stand out with specific regard to the shifts in how we work, however, and their ongoing work to support their customers has been extraordinarily helpful.
Written exclusively for Outthinker.com by Sue Richards