- While Amazon’s videoconferencing app Chime isn’t as widely used as competing products Microsoft Teams and Zoom, the company has two other apps that are boosting its remote work business.
- The remote desktop service WorkSpaces and call center software Connect have both seen surging growth, an exec says, though he declined to share usage stats.
- Meanwhile, AWS announced a partnership with Slack that would allow Slack to use Chime’s voice and video tools, which the exec says will “undoubtedly help” Chime’s business.
- Here’s how customers like TC Energy and Direct Interactions use AWS’s remote work apps.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As Zoom, Microsoft, and Google have seen a flood of new users for their chat and videoconferencing apps during the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon’s Chime seems to have missed out on skyrocketing growth.
But that doesn’t mean that Amazon has missed out on the remote work boom in general, says Eron Kelly, general manager of compute infrastructure and applications at Amazon Web Services. Kelly says that two AWS apps have flourished in the past few months: Connect and WorkSpaces.
Connect allows employees to set up a call center for support and customer service, while WorkSpaces helps employees easily set up a desktop when working remotely.
“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth in these businesses with all our customers,” Kelly said, adding that Amazon is a “core part” of the work-from-home movement. “I think we have a strong position.”
Chime, too, just signed on a big customer: AWS announced a partnership with messaging company Slack in early June where Slack will use Chime’s voice and video abilities, while Amazon employees start using Slack.
Kelly declined to share growth numbers for Chime, Connect, or Workspaces.
The Slack partnership will “undoubtedly help” Amazon Chime
While AWS declined to provide usage numbers for Amazon Chime, it’s almost certainly less widely used than its major videoconferencing rivals like Zoom (300 million daily meeting participants), Microsoft Teams (with 75 million daily active users), and Google Meet (100 million daily meeting participants). As one analyst recently put it to Business Insider: “I cannot recall attending a Chime meeting that wasn’t related to or hosted by Amazon.”
AWS has seen more growth in Chime’s software development kit, which allows developers to build apps using Chime’s features, than with the video tools on their own.
“While we’ve been seeing growth with Chime, where we’ve seen most acceleration is use of the Chime SDK,” Kelly said.
For example, healthcare company CareMonitor used it to build an application that allows patients to log health information like their blood pressure and communicate with caregivers, while fitness company Mindbody used it to build an app for personal trainers to run online classes.
The recent Slack partnership also puts AWS in a “great position” for more customers to use Chime, Kelly believes.
“I think it’s going to help our business,” he said. “When I think of the Chime business, I think of it as both the meetings and applications experience as well as the underlying SDK elements. Slack will undoubtedly help that business a lot.”
WorkSpaces help customers work from home
WorkSpaces has also seen “significant growth” during the pandemic — including by Amazon itself — to onboard employees remotely during the pandemic, Kelly said.
In normal times, employees would simply get a pre-setup work laptop on their first day. Now, employees can use WorkSpaces to access all the necessary internal applications on their first day of work while they wait for a laptop to be shipped to them. Amazon itself has been creating 5,000 new WorkSpaces per week for its employees in past months.
The energy company TC Energy, which has been using AWS’s products since 2017, says that WorkSpaces helped it get its entire workforce working from home earlier this year since it allows employees to do work from their own desktop devices at home. While TC first started using the service last year, it has increased its usage eightfold in past months, including for onboarding students for its annual summer internship program which started in May.
“What’s come out for the journey has been a real understanding that with the purchase, we’re getting access to fabulous innovation tools,” Chris Foster, CIO of TC Energy, told Business Insider. “It’s like having a Home Depot attached to your house.”
TC Energy doesn’t use Chime as much: Instead, it started using Microsoft Teams since the pandemic started, and plans to continue rolling it out and training employees over the next nine months.
A surge in Amazon Connect, including 700 new accounts from one customer
Normally, employees have to report to a call center to talk on the phone with customers for support, customer service, and more. But with Amazon Connect, employees can do that work anywhere, including the comfort of their homes. Unsurprisingly, there’s been a spike in Connect usage as call centers across the country have closed due to shelter-in-place mandates.
“Connect has in its nature been very flexible, but it really lended itself well during this pandemic,” Kelly said.
Customer service company Direct Interactions was one of the first 100 companies to use Amazon Connect for its call center in 2017. In fact, its entire business is based on Connect, says CEO Jonas Nicholson. In the past month, Direct Interactions has added 700 employees onto the platform.
Doing these types of calls from home can even allow employees to deliver better customer service, especially during a pandemic like this, Nicholson says.
“A cubicle is no place to provide a piece of your heart while you’re calling,” Nicholson said. “There are people who have lost everything: lost your job, gotten sick. Home is the place to do that and have an emotional interaction.”
Direct Interactions uses Chime as well as Connect, though it has a “blended Microsoft and Amazon model” where it uses Teams too, Nicholson said.
It uses Microsoft Teams for chat rooms and Skype for Business to conduct many of its meetings, which is ideal because many of its customers also use Microsoft, but uses Chime for quality monitoring sessions and other types of meetings. The company appreciates Chime for “the self-documenting nature and ease of recording,” Nicholson said.
One of the benefits of Connect and other Amazon software is that it has a pay-as-you-go model, as opposed to prepaid annual contracts, AWS’s Kelly says. Indeed, that pay model helped hook Direct Interactions, Nicholson said, praising the company’s “flexible schedule.”
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