Zoom continues its rapid pace of innovation, and at the recent Zoomtopia event in San Jose focused on providing “one platform offering limitless human connection.”
If you read my article on BCStrategies a couple months ago about Zoom’s analyst event, Zoom Perspectives, you’d know that there was a great deal of NDA information about products and capabilities presented, building up the suspense for Zoomtopia. At this week’s Zoomtopia, Zoom revealed a slew of new innovations to make hybrid work more effective for internal and external collaboration.
As Smita Hashim, Chief Product Officer, told the Zoomtopia audience, “Zoom was built for hybrid work. Zoom speed is real and how we ensure you stay ahead of the curve.”
Hashim also unveiled a new visual to depict the Zoom platform, focusing on both the employee and customer experience. Considering that Zoom only introduced Zoom Contact Center a year and a half ago, it's impressive, but not surprising, to see it hold such an important spot in the company’s portfolio.
The biggest attention getters at Zoomtopia were AI Companion and Zoom Docs.
AI Companion (formerly Zoom IQ), which was launched in September, is a generative AI digital assistant that works across the Zoom platform. Similar to comparable offerings, AI Companion is used for creating meeting summaries, meeting highlights, chat summaries, drafting chat replies, generating whiteboard ideas, and much more. It will be available throughout Zoom’s entire platform, including Meetings, Team Chat, Phone, Email, and Whiteboard.
To get an idea of what it can do, AI Companion can help users who are late to a meeting catch up on what they missed. It can create tasks and provide real-time feedback and coaching on users’ presentation and meeting skills. After the meeting, hosts can receive an automated meeting summary that they can share with other participants.
In order to drive adoption, AI Companion is available at no additional cost for customers with paid services assigned to their eligible Zoom user account, as opposed to other companies that charge up to $30 or more per user per month.
And as Zoom CEO Eric Yuan and others clearly stated, Zoom does not use customer content to train AI models or share with third parties to train their models.
The biggest surprise at the event was the introduction of Zoom Docs. Despite its name, Zoom Docs is not a word processing application like Microsoft Word. Instead, it’s a modular, flexible AI-powered workspace built for hybrid work that includes document authoring and collaboration capabilities. Zoom Docs is used for documentation, wikis, project tracking, data management, tasks, projects, and more, while being tightly integrated with Zoom and third-party apps.
According to Zoom’s press release, “Zoom Docs takes the traditional document experience and enhances it with drag and drop content blocks for tables, charts and images, so customers can easily tailor these docs to their unique projects and workflows and collaborate across teams.” As part of the overall workflow, users can create drafts, collaborate on docs in real time, and access docs from right within a meeting, etc.
With Zoom AI Companion, Zoom Docs can summarize content, search documents, and much more. Zoom Docs is expected to be generally available in 2024.
As David Ball, Product Marketing Manager, Zoom Meetings and Chat, noted, Zoom Docs is “One doc to rule them all.”
My thoughts: I love the idea of Zoom Docs and think it will be extremely useful for users. However, Zoom could have picked a better name, as people will inevitably compare it to Microsoft Word and Google Docs, and Zoom may end up spending more time explaining how it’s NOT a word processing system, but is much, much more. It’s actually closer to Notion or Microsoft Loop – but calling it Zoom Loop probably wouldn’t be a good idea.
Customer Experience Enhancements
As mentioned, Zoom Contact Center has become a key element of Zoom’s portfolio. Zoom has been innovating extremely quickly, with over 600 features added in less than 18 months. Zoom recently announced Zoom Workforce Management for forecasting and scheduling, and Quality Management to extract insights from customer interactions.
The newest additions announced at Zoomtopia include:
- AI-powered support, including Zoom Virtual Agent, Zoom AI Companion providing interaction summarizations, and AI Expert Assist. AI Expert Assist uses generative AI and natural language to analyze conversations and suggest real-time responses and actions for agents. For supervisors, it provides actionable insights to help improve effectiveness. In a future release, agents will be able to use AI Companion to compose responses to customers and provide a more seamless agent handoff from bots or another agent.
- Expanded digital support options for email, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger (2024)
- Outbound dialer, with progressive and preview dial capabilities
- Remote desktop control for IT help desk customers to troubleshoot and resolve tech issues, enabling the agents to take control of the customer desktop during a technical help desk interaction
- Third-party integrations in the Zoom Agent desktop to make CRM data, payment information, order history, and other customer information available within the agent desktop, reducing the need for agents to toggle between apps
By the end of the year, Zoom will be offering new tiered bundles that include AI Companion. Packages and pricing aren’t available at this time.
At the event, I spoke with Ted Yoshikawa, head of product, Zoom Contact Center, to discuss the new capabilities.
Anyone who thinks of Zoom as simply a virtual meeting provider clearly hasn’t been paying attention. Zoom has expanded to become a full business communications provider, with chat, collaboration, phone, contact center, events, webinars, email, calendar, employee experience (Workvivo), meetings (of course) and more – all infused with AI and on a single, unified platform. For a contact center solution that’s only been in the market for 18 months, Zoom Contact Center has the majority of features and capabilities needed to compete with the leading CCaaS vendors, and I expect them to be fully – or almost fully – on par in the near future.
While it’s still hard for any company to compete with Microsoft Teams in this space, Zoom is fighting hard, focusing on innovation while remaining true to its ease-of-use mantra and providing happiness to customers.