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What you do for the planet while having a meeting online

Remote work, remote study, remote meetings and even wedding ceremonies – now almost all the forms of interaction we got used to can be done via video conference software.

Last year saw the boom of Zoom Meetings, a video conference platform, owned by Zoom Video Communications. The story of Zoom started in 2011 when Eric Yuan left Cisco and launched his own company he was so much dreaming about. In April 2019, Zoom went public, but it was the beginning of the pandemic when Zoom beat all the records. Zoom attracted 300 million users. It’s an increase of 2900% since 2019.

It took Zoom nine years to get to the current position, then why its Chinese counterpart, Tencent Meeting, spent only two years to get several hundred millions users?

On November 3rd, during the Tencent Digital Ecosystem Conference President of Tencent Cloud Qiu Yuepeng announced that the number of users of Tencent Meeting reached 200 million, while over the past year more than 4 billion meetings were held via the platform. The app was only launched in 2019 and managed to get 100 million users in 245 days. What made it grow so fast? Let’s check the current trends around the major Chinese video conferencing platform.

What made online meetings grow so fast?

In 2020, with the global spread of COVID-19, the number of people using online meetings increased exponentially. Now it is a part of our everyday reality. Most of the video conferencing platforms’ features, at least the basic packages, are free, which reduces the cost pressure of SMEs, searching for office spaces or meeting rooms, speed-up decision making and eventually promotes innovation.

Especially interesting is how Tencent Meeting is related to sustainable future.

How much emissions can we avoid by having online meetings?

Taking the Tencent Meeting as an example, let’s look at the official data. Thus, Tencent’s video conferencing app managed to reduce its carbon emissions by over 15 million tons since the time of its launch. On September 7, the Publicity and Education Center of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the Green Inclusive Committee of the All-China Environmental Protection Federation released a quantitative research report on how online meetings help reduce carbon emissions in China. According to the report, the average amount of emissions reduced by every online meeting held via Tencent Meeting was equivalent to the annual carbon sink generated by about 20 trees.

In 2020, China has set a goal to reach its carbon emission peak by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060. In this context, major industries and companies are actively exploring new ways of work, which can incorporate efficiency and sustainable development. Tencent is also among the enterprises actively promoting green policies. Apart from Tencent Meetings contribution to carbon reduction, in January this year, Tencent announced the launch of a carbon neutral plan and use technology to achieve zero emissions, becoming one of the first Chinese Internet companies to launch such plan.

For many in China, Tencent Meeting provided the paperless and digital way of remote video collaboration, and let employees effectively exchange real-time information, while also saving travel costs and the most important point – reduce tremendous amount of carbon emissions.

In addition to carbon solutions, Tencent Meeting has also contributed to COVID-19 responding, which facilitated sustainable development in China, though indirectly. According to a report released by Peking University's Internet Development Research Center, between January and May 2020 Tencent Meeting software helped the society to save its costs of up to 71.4 billion RMB. During the pandemic, the Tencent Meeting not only promoted cloud collaboration practices such as cloud contract signing, cloud bidding, cloud interview and cloud trainings and thus helped enterprises resume normal work, but also fully supported many large-scale events, including international ones, such as the Canton Fair and the Global Dialogue on the 75th Anniversary of the UN. In the times of the virus, it was exceptionally important to promote global communication, economy and trade.

Poster of the event in the framework of Canton Fair held completely online

Even though the situation with the coronavirus in China has become stable, online video conferencing platforms don’t lose their position and Tencent Meeting popularity only continues to grow, as a number of companies are transitioning to online and remote working mode. More and more events are held online and even the whole programs, trainings, fellowships are running fully online.

Of course, meetings online cannot replace face-to-face communication. But what it can definitely do is to help with the information exchange, to solve some daily issues when it’s not crucial to meet in person and save the costs of meeting offline.

But video conferencing software is still not enough. Some industries still need to be digitized further.

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