Zoom Video Communications expanded its reach into project management with its Zoom Docs and expanded its use of generative AI through its platform.

At Zoomtopia 2023, Zoom rolled out a bevy of new features and use cases for AI Companion, its generative AI play for hybrid work. CEO Eric Yuan said work is evolving and Zoom plans to reinvent its platform to go with that change.

In a nutshell, Zoom has been systematically expanding its reach beyond its core video communications tools that made the company a verb. Zoom Docs is an example of how it is broadening its hybrid work reach. The company is also looking to become a go-to employee and customer experience platform.

The big question here is whether enterprises will consolidate collaboration and engagement platforms and choose Zoom. With Zoom's expansion, the company will bump into multiple players including Google and Microsoft as well as customer experience vendors.

In addition, Zoom has rolled out a pricing strategy with its Zoom AI Companion that could help it grab market share. Zoom isn't doing the standard $30 per user per month add-on approach with its AI tools. Zoom is also encouraging usage as it is adding Zoom AI Companion to Zoom Mail, Meeting, Team Chat and other areas. It's too early to see whether Zoom's generative AI pricing strategy pays off, but CIOs are likely to get sticker shock as add-ons add up.

Here's an overview of what Zoom announced at Zoomtopia.

Hybrid work and collaboration

  • Zoom Docs, which is an AI-powered workspace aimed at helping enterprises collaborate and mange projects. Although the name makes Zoom Docs sound like a collaborative document creator, Zoom argued that Zoom Docs will enable teams to manage projects, create wikis, tables, and tasks in addition to providing typical document functions. According to Zoom, Zoom Docs is an example of how AI Companion can be leveraged throughout the platform. Zoom Docs is tightly integrated with Zoom Meetings, which can use content summaries and documents to create docs. Zoom Docs will be generally available in 2024. 

  • Zoom AI Companion will be able to generate and organize ideas in Zoom Whiteboard. Zoom added that it will expand the capabilities of its industry plays including healthcare and higher education.
  • Zoom's Workspace Reservation will add a feature called Wayfinding to reserve seats and make it easier for employees to find their desks when hoteling in an office.
  • My Office View in Huddles will get presence indicators and location information so employees know whether collaboration will be physical or in a virtual huddle.
  • Zoom Scheduler will get single-booking links and updates to incorporate unique schedules. Zoom Scheduler will be integrated into Salesforce.

Also see:

Customer and employee experience

  • AI Expert Assist will be available for customer support agents in supervisors in the first quarter to surface customer data and knowledge base information as well as provide actions and insights.

  • Zoom Virtual Agent and Zoom Contact Center will integrate WhatsApp and Messenger in the months ahead.
  • Zoom Contact Center will further integrate with Salesforce, add outbound dialer capabilities, and remote desktop control for helpdesk agents.
  • Generative AI will be used in Zoom Events to compose invitations, lobby chats and sessions.
  • Zoom added Workvivo, which was acquired by Zoom, to its Zoom desktop software for Workvivo users. Workvivo is an employee engagement tool.

Constellation Research's take

Constellation Research analyst Liz Miller broke down the Zoom announcements. She said:

"Zoom is taking on work from where it can happen (office, zoom reserved rooms, AMC Theaters, your living room) to how collaboration intersects with work. And this has been Zoom's strategy for several years now. First, Zoom expanded beyond the Zoom interface and identified specific surfaces where Zoom can be the interface for work. Then Zoom layered in its hardware partnerships with Poly, experience partnerships with the likes of AMC Theaters and even investments into Zoom Phone, which as announced by CEO Eric S Yuan at Zoomtopia, is now available in 47 countries. 

From there, Zoom took on the the event management solution buildout so Zoom can enable hybrid, fully digital AND live engagement management. That move is giving marketers and event planners a common platform for experiential opportunities. And now we see voice and cross-channel communication and collaboration enter the mix with an increasingly robust CCaaS solution that includes a flexible agent workspace.

Underpinning it all is this idea that communication should always feel like an opportunity for collaboration. With the addition of Zoom Docs, you can now include documents, notes, tables, sheets and even tasks and reminders, turning project management and orchestration into a moment of collaboration.

And then there is the AI news. Like many competitors and platforms, Zoom has put genAI to work in summaries and connecting the communications dots as one would expect. The unexpected moment was that Zoom does not plan to pass along the COST of generative AI to its paid users, at least not at the moment. It is including AI Companion at no cost to customers with paid subscription accounts. It can be turned on or off at the user’s requirement and request. Some questions still linger around who is providing permission to have their data used in these models and summary moments. Zoom account admins provide consent on behalf of the account, but individual users opt out the old fashion way of just hanging up on the experience."

Future of Work research: