Every company establishes their own protocols on how they handle internal use of applications. I worked at a Fortune 50 enterprise. I can shed a little light on the process we used at that company before I retired. I have first hand experience with this as I was one of the people directly involved with the process. I also know from interactions with people who worked elsewhere that the process we used (or something similar) was relatively commonplace.
First off, there’s no such thing as a free product. Zoom offers a level of usage that has zero acquisition cost associated with it. Acquisition cost is just one component of the cost of ownership.
Based on a lot of bad experiences when PCs and associated s/w first became commonplace my employer put a process in place to control the acquisition and use of desktop software. Without going into much depth, the situation we experienced was that for the first time in history computers were cheap enough that virtually every manager had sufficient budget to go buy computers and software for their own unit. In short order, chaos prevailed. We soon had pockets of every brand of computers and every brand of software on the planet (maybe a little bit of hyperbole there, but not much).
Additional costs of ownership involve training and support as well as loss of negotiating power. There’s also the learning curve required to come up to speed when an employee moves from one unit to another which was a frequent occurrence. I won’t dwell on this. Use your imagination and then double it. It was out of control as there were a lot of employees engaged in office work.
We instituted a process whereby we reviewed availability of software in given domain. After review of product offerings a standard was declared. I might add that these reviews included factors you might not normally think of. Of course, we paid attention to the technical merits of competing products including comprehensive regression testing (an evaluation of how a new product behaves with respect to our established environment). But we also looked at existing vendor relationships, financial stability of the vendor, legal entanglements of the vendor, reviews of the vendor’s product plans and vision, ability to influence product decisions and other non-technical factors and probably of particular relevance to the question at hand, the cost of and potential barriers of transition to a different product. In most cases if there were technical standards (for example IEEE POSIX specifications for UNIX operating systems) we generally looked for compliance.
If, for example, Zoom had been adopted as a standard, a new competitor had quite a hurdle to overcome in order to unseat it. A somewhat better mousetrap would in most cases be insufficient in and of itself. Quoted, publicly available pricing might also be not as strong an incentive to change as you might imagine. Despite all the non-technical reviews I just mentioned, it was standard practice for our procurement folks to negotiate contracts that provided the vendor with some guarantees in exchange for special pricing (BTW, managers were barred from procuring their own computing products. All purchases had to be placed through the designated procurement agent). We well understood what we called the leapfrog of technical capabilities. Vendor X can do this, Vendor Y (our standard) didn’t do that. But because we had a seat at the table when it came to their development roadmap we knew in a few months they would roll out a revision that provided that functionality. And so it went, with different vendors exchanging places with respect to the feature set. Of course I’m not saying we never wavered once a standard was declared, but it took more than a competitor showing up with a comparable or even somewhat better product.
The remote meeting software standard at the company I worked at was Webex (at the time it provided desktop sharing, no live video, no audio which was handled with a separate conference call). Has Zoom displaced Webex? I have no idea, I retired about 10 years ago. Do they still have the standards review board? I don’t know that either, but I do know for certain that the IT unit I worked in (the Enterprise Architecture group) is still in existence so I feel confident in asserting that something like that review board is likely still in place.
All this boils down to suggesting that we temper our anxiety with respect to the rapidly evolving competitive landscape for video conferencing in support of enterprise needs (in many ways different than those of the general public). The security stumbles most likely did real damage to Zoom in the marketplace. Eric Juan is obviously sensitive to this and has taken aggressive action to address it, but the damage has been done, it can’t be undone. I imagine that cost Zoom some paying customers.
I mentioned in a previous post that Zoom should be watched very closely to see if they are experiencing customer erosion. If we see that taking place over a few consecutive quarters it deserves our attention. That might even indicate that it’s time to start reducing overly large positions. But, IMO there’s no immediate reason to abandon Zoom.