For a first trip to the Billion-Dollar-Baby Mall, Zoom made quite the purchase with their $14.7 billion deal for cloud contact center software player Five9. The obvious conversations about this deal center around Zoom’s explosive COVID-fueled growth that needed someplace to crash. Sure, Zoom grew, by their own estimates, 326% in 2020, and that steep climb was going to slow. Acquisition felt like the obvious answer for anyone watching. Sorry…that’s the boring story.

Let’s establish a timeline…

April 2021 Zoom announces the Zoom Apps Fund. It’s a fund to jumpstart the growth of the Zoom ecosystem of apps. Everybody and their momma has an ecosystem and a fund or “ventures”. But look past Zoom’s whole these apps are an “important component in building the future of video communications” bit. Instead turn your eye to a new line that has crept into almost every corporate communication positioning Zoom as “core to how customers meet, communication and collaborate.”

Core to how customers meet, communicate and collaborate.

May 2021 Zoom announces Zoom Event Platform for Virtual Experiences. This one flew past a lot of folks. The new capabilities combined customers, communication, collaboration and, in the case of events, commercialization. With the new event platform, events can be ticketed, with controlled access and billing in one portal, and brings a new integrated networking module for attendee connection along with back-end tracking across everything from registration to revenue.

Core to how customers meet, communicate and collaborate.

June 2021 Zoom launches Zoom Phone Appliances, representing a move into hardware were Zoom tech meets hardware from big names like Poly and Yealink so bring video and voice calling to an all-in-one desk phone. And yes…thanks to that Zoom rooms tech…this slicer and dicer even does whiteboards.

June 2021 Zoom dipped a toe into the buying pond with the pickup of Kites GmbH with a global cross-language interaction solution to ramp up Zoom’s machine translation capabilities. So now, not only is Zoom going to core to how customers meet, communicate and collaborate…they can take it all global…with a fancy new phone.

Core to how ANY customer meets, communicates and collaborates…anywhere.

So now…let’s talk Five9. First it helps to understand that Five9 isn’t your average cloud center software kit. It too saw explosive growth in 2020 as brands across both B2B and B2C markets had to send their front line of customer engagement and experience home. Call center agents didn't just start working at home, they needed to be able to connect and engage with a customer caller that was also in the same motion of uncertainty and flux.

Five9’s solution is underpinned with AI tools that turn everything into smarter things…smart dialing, smarter self-service, smart routing, virtual agents, virtual assistants…basically everything smarter that employees and customers crave to make life (and work life) just a little bit easier. The cloud solution is also untethered to a single communications channel allowing a customer to choose not just when, but also where they need to or want to engage from mobile to messaging.

Dig a bit deeper into the portfolio and you start to see a common tread…it isn’t just about how call center employees could connect and, in essence, collaborate on problem solving and question resolution with a customer, but their platform could enable employees to connect and collaborate with other employees…and suddenly Five9 isn’t “just” a call center tool but part of a larger human capitol management story...and dare I say a larger enterprise communication and collaboration story.

Dare I say it…it starts to sound like solutions that are core to how people (customers, employees, families, whoever) meet, communicate and collaborate.

So now I have to ask myself…what DOES Zoom want to be when it grows up? All signs point to leaving folks like Ring Central and even Cisco in the dust for something higher up the chain and even more broad in the realm of customer experience. And they might just make it. For most platform players in the wild and bizarre world called “Customer Experience” where everyone from surveys to emails are claiming the title of “customer experience platform,” the foundation of most of these solutions is still some Kuato-like vestige of a CRM solution, feeding off of its host waiting for Quaid to arrive.

But…what happens to CX when the center of gravity leaves the familiar trappings of CRM and takes up residence in the land of communication and service? What happens when the center point for a CX platform is literally the center point for communication with any customer or any employee? My obvious questions are not what networking, router or VoiP system Zoom is eying next…but rather what CDP, omnichannel engagement solution, DXP, marketing automation or even sales engagement system could Zoom be eyeing next.

Sure, Zoom started as the “better and sassier” video conference to Cisco. But there is something bigger at play in the opportunity…something bigger than skaing up a stale market and a stale industry. It is the chance to unexpectedly reshape it all and drive analysts like me INSANE as we grapple with new acronyms to segment this new space. This Five9 pickup hints at just how big and bold Zoom CEO Eric Yuan can go. At least to me, this is just the opening salvo.

In the end, this is how I'd summarize this acquisition: Together, Zoom and Five9 dare to be core to how customers and employees meet, communicate and collaborate.