Add 4 Stocks to Watchlist as Enterprise Communication Peps Up

Elva Mankin

The world has witnessed accelerated digitalization in the last few months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Team meetings, conferences, and social interactions have taken to web-based video communication mode courtesy of the coronavirus crisis led work-from-home, stay-at-home, online learning and telehealth care wave. Apprehensions regarding a second wave of coronavirus […]

The world has witnessed accelerated digitalization in the last few months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Team meetings, conferences, and social interactions have taken to web-based video communication mode courtesy of the coronavirus crisis led work-from-home, stay-at-home, online learning and telehealth care wave.

Apprehensions regarding a second wave of coronavirus with no vaccine yet in sight are likely to persuade people across the world to opt for work from home, until and unless it is absolutely necessary to do otherwise. People are expected to follow social distancing norms, wear masks and limit travel for the foreseeable future.

Thereby, the world is relying on technology more than ever, thanks to robust adoption of digital overhaul, rapid Internet penetration and democratization of cloud computing techniques infused with robust AI and ML algorithms.

Travel restrictions and the growing preference for online-mode conferences bode well for companies like Zoom Video ZM, Microsoft MSFT, Cisco CSCO and Slack Technologies WORK.

Year-to-Date Price Performance

The companies are striving to enhance their video conferencing platforms to capitalize on work-from-home push and strengthen competitive prowess in video conferencing space. Per a report from Global Market Insights, the market is expected to be more than $50 billion by 2026.

Moreover, per Mordor Intelligence data, enterprise communication infrastructure market is anticipated to see a CAGR of 17.5% between 2020 and 2025.

Let us dig deeper to analyze the recent efforts in enterprise communication and workspace collaboration arena.

Zoom Raises the Bar with Hardware-As-A-Service Model

Videoconferencing titan, Zoom Video Communications continues to add record number of subscribers and expand enterprise customer base amid the coronavirus-induced remote-working and online-learning wave.

Moreover, the company is pulling out all stops to enhance video conferencing experience as evident from the development of hardware-as-a-service model, which will allow users to access Zoom-branded equipment like video cameras, conferencing telephones, and large-screen monitors.

Moreover, efforts to eliminate the security and privacy loopholes are expected to help maintain its existing enterprise user base and attract more customers. As of Apr 30, 2020, Zoom Video, currently flaunting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), had roughly 265.4K customers (with more than 10 employees), up 354% year over year. The stock has become an investor favorite and witnessed a surge of 291.4% on a year-to-date basis. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Microsoft Strengthens Teams with Together Mode

Microsoft recently introduced Together mode feature to Teams in a bid to make video meetings lively and dynamic while enhancing user experience.

Instead of focusing on individuals in neat squares in different backgrounds, the Together mode removes the backgrounds and condenses all the participants into a shared space resembling an auditorium.

The tech giant also has bigger plans of facilitating more flexibility into content presentations together with video. The company intends to power Teams with video filters to alter webcam focus and lighting levels, live emoticons to express reactions, and even transcripts scheduled to be introduced in later 2020. Teams will be enabled to support around 1,000 participants, or even 20,000, in case if majority are watching instead of presenting.

Notably, the company, currently carrying a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), stated that Teams recently set a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes, up 200% from 900 million minutes on Mar 16. Moreover, the number of video calls increased 1000% in March, with most of the growth coming from Norway, Netherlands, Australia and Italy.

Cisco’s Monthly Updates to Webex Hold Promise

Cisco has integrated Cisco Spark with Webex Platform, which enhanced Webex Meeting and enabled it to introduce Webex Teams, thereby strengthening its enterprise collaboration portfolio.

The company updates its Webex portfolio on a monthly basis to aid users enhance productivity with advancements in video conferencing. Per the latest update, the company announced that administrators of new sessions will be able to seamlessly access end-to-end encryption for meetings, which will be enabled from mid-July for all sites.

Moreover, the company is well poised to enrich Webex Assistant service with AI-based voice-recognition and transcription capabilities from the Voicea acquisition.

Further, integration of AI and ML capabilities into enterprise collaboration solutions is anticipated to increase productivity of users and improve engagement. This, in turn, is expected to bolster adoption of Webex Meetings, Webex Devices and Webex Teams, which is a tailwind for this Zacks Rank #3 stock.

Notably, Webex reportedly recorded 324 million users in March, with more than double user growth in the United States. The app also witnessed around 73 million meetings in March, with more than 22 million of them taking place per week in the last two weeks of the month.

In third-quarter fiscal 2020 earnings conference, management stated that 95% of the Fortune 500 is now utilizing Cisco’s collaboration solutions.

Slack’s Rimeto Acquisition Deserves a Special Mention

Slack is bringing up new features to strengthen enterprise communication platform. Slack video calls enable screen sharing to help communicate complex ideas seamlessly and boost interaction and productivity.

Third-party app integration, with a robust Slack App Directory, is a key differentiator from other peers in video conferencing. Moreover, Slack, which carries a Zacks Rank #3, supports unlimited users and channels.

Slack allows users to instantly start meetings or join calls without leaving Slack conversations by connecting to video conferencing service of the users’ choice.

The company recently acquired Rimeto, which offers business directory services, in a bid to aid enterprise clientele boost employee engagement. Rimeto’s platform enables employees to develop detailed profiles with advanced search functionalities to facilitate people to connect across entire enterprises.

The company witnessed strong user growth amid coronavirus crisis triggered work-from-home wave. Notably, International Business Machines Corporation IBM, Slack’s long-time customer, selected its platform over Microsoft Teams to boost chat communications for IBM’s employee base of approximately 330,000.

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