Covid-19 Pandemic and Indonesia’s Pivot to Teleconferencing
While the Covid-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to businesses globally, the teleconferencing industry in Indonesia is proving to be exceptionally resilient.
Teleconferencing, within a broad context, is an umbrella term that encompasses audio conferencing, video conferencing, and web conferencing.
Indonesia has seen a shift in both mindset and culture towards a more digitalized lifestyle.
With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing Indonesians indoors, Indonesia has seen a shift in both mindset and culture towards a more digitalized lifestyle. This shift includes changes to work culture, a healthier lifestyle and a pivot away from the worship of academic credentials. Locals find themselves increasingly reliant on teleconferencing for work, school, and social life as the pandemic and subsequent government measures continue to keep them indoors.
This pivot towards the adoption of teleconferencing technology was admittedly no easy feat. Prior to 2020, the resistance came mostly from users. However, in face of Covid-19, the circumstances necessitated students, educators, event planners, and other stakeholders to recognize and take advantage of the digital platforms. Today, teleconferencing has become a successful substitute for the traditional forms of meetings and conferences.
Immense digital transformation potential in Indonesia
With over 171 million Internet users, Indonesia is the largest and fastest-growing digital economy in Asia. Indonesia’s digital economy stood at US$ 40 billion in 2019 and is projected to swell to US$ 133 billion by 2025 (Jakarta Globe).
As a testament to Indonesia’s status as Asia’s largest digital economy, teleconferencing technology adoption is relatively high when compared to its fellow developing peers in ASEAN. In the Technology Survey 2020 conducted by Spire Research and Consulting, video conferencing is one of the top 3 productivity-related technologies adopted by Indonesians. As many as 30% to 40% of Indonesians currently own video conferencing products, driven by a larger adoption rate amongst younger Indonesians. Furthermore, Indonesians were the third-highest users of video chat app Google Duo after the United States and India in 2019, and their calls were 10% longer than the global average.
As many as 30% to 40% of Indonesians currently own video conferencing products, driven by a larger adoption rate amongst younger Indonesians.
More impressively, Indonesia’s teleconferencing market is expected to continue growing at a rapid pace. The global video conferencing market size is expected to reach US$ 6.7 billion by 2025 at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.2% from 2018 to 2025, while Asia Pacific is poised to register a CAGR of 14% (Grand View Research, Global Market Insights).
In Indonesia, favourable government policies and the growing presence of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies support the growth of teleconferencing.
The adoption rates of video conferencing in Indonesia are expected to be aligned with international trends and growth by approximately 10% across all age groups within the next year.
Cognizant of the country’s vast digital potential, the government is determined to scale up technology adoption to boost economic productivity. Favourable government policies and the growing presence of BPO companies are likely to boost the growth of teleconferencing. With sizeable governmental support and a population ready for digital advancement, Indonesia holds much potential for digital transformation in the years to come.
Favourable government policies and the growing presence of BPO companies are likely to boost the growth of teleconferencing.
Online applications and usage skyrocketed during the pandemic
Based on the data from Statqo Analytics in March 2020, the five most popular applications used by Indonesians are GoToMeeting, Cisco Web Meeting, Hangouts Meet, Skype, and Zoom. The following compares the number of users for each of the teleconferencing applications between the period of 28 February to 5 March 2020, with the number of users on 26 March 2020.
- GoToMeeting-User numbers grew from 479 in early March to 977 on 26 March 2020.
- Cisco Web Meeting- Cisco users grew from 3,983 between 28 February and 5 March 2020 to 8,748 on 26 March 2020.
- Hangouts Meet- In early March, this application, made by Google, recorded 1,448 users, and on 26 March 2020, that number rose significantly to 10,454 users. Hangouts Meet is quite successful in gaining users during WFH (Work from Home) in Indonesia.
- Skype -It recorded 60,614 users from 28 February to 5 March. On 26 March, Skype users reached 71,155.
- Zoom-The number of Zoom users has increased dramatically, locking Zoom in the first position in this online applications war. In early March 2020, Zoom registered 8,714 users, which grew to 257,853 users on 26 March 2020.
Based on the data from Statista, Zoom’s revenue in 2020 skyrocketed to US$ 2.65 billion from US$ 623 million in the previous year. The net profit collected by Zoom also increased dramatically, from US$ 22 million to US$ 671 million in 2020.
Graph.1 Zoom’s Revenue on Pandemic from 2019-2021 (Statista)
Where a cultural shift occurred
With teleconferencing becoming the new norm, the world of business conferencing has experienced improved efficiency, in terms of both cost and time. A mere click of the “Join Meeting” button has effectively replaced long-distance travel, hotel accommodations, and travel allowances. With Covid-19 decimating the entire MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) industry which has long held onto the status quo, teleconferencing platforms such as Zoom provide a cheap and effective way of coordinating meetings across physical and geographical boundaries, all at a relatively low cost.
As the world’s largest archipelagic state, the introduction of teleconferencing to government administration is a much-needed cultural shift to reduce administrative costs of running the behemoth. As a low-cost technological solution, teleconferencing made it possible to consolidate various meetings over a virtual platform, saving billions of rupiahs of state money. For example, the Minister of Home Affairs held a teleconference with 514 regents/mayors throughout Indonesia from their respective offices at one time.
As a low-cost technological solution, teleconferencing made it possible to consolidate various meetings over a virtual platform, saving billions of rupiahs of state money.
The government coordinated with education institutions in Indonesia on the new approach towards the educational system and created new guidelines and standards for the educators. A set of guidelines was launched on June 2021 virtually through the Zoom Meeting application and was also broadcast through the YouTube channel of the Ministry of Education and Culture. In the broadcast, the main provisions for the implementation of learning were explained based on the 4 Ministerial Decree of 30 March 2021.
With the latest Ministerial Decree restricting PTM, or Face-to-Face learning, to control Covid-19 cases, it is unsurprising that the e-learning sector is booming. For example, online learning startup Ruangguru has launched free online classes to help students keep up with their studies.
Teleconferencing is essential for video tutoring and online educational platforms, which is great news for telecommunication companies. In early April 2021, Telkomsel, the largest digital telecommunications provider in Indonesia, reported a 16% surge in broadband traffic. The increase was driven in part by the rise in demand for e-learning applications.
Telkomsel … reported a 16% surge in broadband traffic. The increase was driven in part by the rise in demand for e-learning applications.
As consumer patterns evolve, e-learning will likely take up a larger market share in the educational space. Teleconferencing solutions adapted to learning needs will be able to benefit from this.
The advent of telemedicine, particularly as consumers demand services that meet stay-home consumption patterns, will drive healthy growth in healthcare teleconferencing. Telemedicine services refer to the provision of doctor consultation and prescriptions via video, telephone, or text, and the delivery of medicine.
The growing need for immediate medical assistance to patients and the provision of training to medical personnel in remote locations also fuel the development of new telemedicine solutions. For example, health-tech company, Indopasifik Teknologi Medika Indonesia (ITMI), launched a digital pharmacy app, Lifepack, for patients to consult a doctor online and obtain medication without leaving their homes.
The Indonesia Ministry of Health is developing an Indonesian telemedicine platform, equipped with Teleradiology, Tele-electrocardiography, Tele-ultrasonography, and clinical Teleconsultation features. Some hospitals have also provided their own Telemedical services.
In July 2021, the Ministry launched a free telemedicine programme on 11 platforms, for free healthcare consultation and monitoring, with costs borne by the government.
In July 2021, the Ministry launched a free telemedicine programme on 11 platforms, for free healthcare consultation and monitoring, with costs borne by the government.
The pervasiveness of healthcare in the public agenda creates plenty of opportunities for companies looking to enter the telemedicine space.
Virtual religious services
With congregational prayers during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr prayers banned to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia, most religious services are observed from home through online streaming. New opportunities are created for companies able to meet this specific demand with customised technological solutions.
Several Internet service providers in Indonesia have collaboration with local governments, to provide free wi-fi and Internet services in Rumah Ibadat (church, temple, and mosque) so that the Indonesian public can have a better virtual experience of prayers.
Virtual fitness classes and online workouts have become the new norm. In a bid to stay fit and healthy during the pandemic, many have taken to signing up for online fitness classes hosted on video conferencing platforms. Demand is likely to be sustained to some extent as some grow used to the convenience of exercising from home, boosting demand for video conferencing in the long run.
Many stakeholders in the music industry adjusted their business to the digital format during the pandemic. Adapting to the trend of virtual concerts, many music events have been broadcast live on the Internet. The platforms used include Facebook Live, Youtube Live, Instagram Live, Livestream and StreamNow.
The Pros and Cons of Teleconferencing
Indonesian companies use teleconferencing as leverage for increasing their productivity among organizations, employees and co-workers, by enhancing connections and interactions with colleagues, partners, and clients.
The circumstances accelerated the adoption of the new culture. Companies save on travel expenses and reallocate their budget for more online presence. Online education and web seminars have been the major game-changer in terms of the implementation of teleconferences for online presence and market penetration.
Privacy and cybercrime
The potential for cybercrime has also increased since the implementation of WFH.
In April 2021, the US FBI issued a warning to caution Internet users of possible hacking when teleconferencing, specifically during conferences and classroom lessons. Virtual hijackings are emerging globally. The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic images, hate images, and threatening language.
Kaspersky’s latest report for the first quarter of 2021, shows that 38.3% of computer users in Indonesia are targeted by local threats. Between January and March 2021, Kaspersky detected and blocked as many as 9.7 million different cyber threats, which were transmitted via the Internet on computers of KSN (Kaspersky Security Network) users in Indonesia. This puts Indonesia in the 56th position in the world in the category of hazards that arise while surfing. This figure also increased by 20% when compared to the same period last year in Indonesia. More than 70% of Indonesia’s population are Internet users, so the country is attractive to cybercriminals.
It is also supported by data from the Indonesian National Cyber and Crypto Agency (BSSN) which reported a nearly five-fold spike in 2020 from 2019 for cybercrimes.
Image graph 2_Covid-19 Pandemic and Indonesia’s Pivot to Teleconferencing _SpirE-Journal
The intensity and regularity of video calls can cause fatigue called Zoom fatigue syndrome. It is not limited to online activities using the Zoom application but applies to all video conferencing service platforms used.
Several factors that can cause this syndrome include the online meeting duration, the absence of pauses between work and rest, the distance between the computer screen, laptop or cellphone, as well as technical problems such as intermittent signals.
Limited capacity and quality of connectivity
Technical issues in the areas of hardware, software, low bandwidth and network connectivity may also hamper the growth of teleconferencing.
According to the ASEAN Post, Indonesia ranks poorly among ASEAN nations in terms of Internet connection speed, which is exceptionally important in teleconferencing. Technical glitches, ranging from poor video and audio quality to unstable connections, were reported to have disrupted the examination of witnesses and defendants during online court trials in Indonesia. Such service unreliability will undermine the adoption of teleconferencing across industries in the long term.
The surge in Internet usage has also led to global network operators reporting an increased strain on networks. To cope with limited bandwidth capacity, governments in China, India, and Japan have mandated service providers to lower the video quality, thereby alleviating the risk of crashes, lags or disruptions. This adds to a greater imperative for a more robust capacity to support the surge in data flow without compromising on teleconferencing service quality.
Shifting demands of Teleconferencing in Indonesia
To boost teleconferencing in Indonesia, the government lends its support to the various digital ecosystem, such as digital infrastructure, and easy and secure accessibility. Consumers are also increasingly demanding a differentiated experience that supports productivity and provides interactivity.
Indonesia infrastructure preparation
The Indonesian Minister of Communications and Information, Johnny G. Plate, stated that the national digital infrastructure will be supported by 4G and 5G networks simultaneously. Indonesia started implementing 5G by maintaining the Internet link ratio so that Internet disparities between regions of Indonesia are well maintained. Indonesia requires a frequency spectrum, until 2024, of at least 2047 MHz to support the deployment of 4G and 5G and a high-quality teleconference experience.
Indonesia started implementing 5G by maintaining the Internet link ratio so that Internet disparities between regions of Indonesia are well maintained.
Affordable Internet and data package
Internet penetration in Indonesia is expanding, as Internet operator competition gets tighter. Internet service providers in Indonesia are competing to offer more data package variance to facilitate their users’ teleconferencing needs.
Data Security Concern
Indonesia’s National Cyber and Crypto Agency (BSSN) issued a Security Guide to the Use of Video Conference Applications on 7 April 2020, to protect data at online meetings, especially in the National Critical Infrastructure sector. BSSN recommends that the Video Conference Application server can be managed independently (on-premises), to improve data security, especially for company secrets and state secrets.
Innovative Strategy from Vendors
As consumers get more demanding of better experience and quality of teleconferencing, vendors need to continue to innovate to enhance and simplify the user experience. Some recent solutions are ultra-high-definition video with background noise-cancelling functions. Other innovations include using Artificial Intelligence (AI) for facial recognition to authenticate meeting participants. Another interesting development is the incorporation of 3D technology and virtual reality (VR) into teleconferencing to create a more realistic interpersonal experience and to allow users to interact with immersive, multidimensional content.
How vendors can take it from here
The Covid-19 outbreak, both a crisis and an opportunity, has accelerated the demand for virtual events, e-learning, and telemedicine, among other teleconferencing applications. As more Indonesians are expected to embrace going virtual as a norm, adoption of teleconferencing is likely to continue and be maintained even after the pandemic has subsided.
The surge in demand is matched by a spike in teleconferencing solutions. Amongst the companies rushing to capitalise on the surge in video chats, Facebook has also introduced videoconferencing through Messenger Rooms where non-Facebook users can also join via a web browser. Competition is likely to be fierce. To be able to ride this rising wave, vendors must develop scalable capabilities to provide a smooth user experience supported by a robust security infrastructure to capture higher value.
Competition is likely to be fierce. To be able to ride this rising wave, vendors must develop scalable capabilities to provide a smooth user experience supported by a robust security infrastructure to capture higher value.