Zoom has announced a host of new innovations to its collaboration platform, including new email and calendar integrations and conversational AI features in Zoom’s contact centre.
In addition to the updates, Zoom is also launching Zoom Spots, a virtual co-working space designed to help to drive employee connection and collaboration. The latest platform innovations were announced at Zoom’s annual Zoomtopia conference, which kicked off on Tuesday.
Speaking at a briefing before the event, Joseph Chong, head of product, solutions and industry marketing at Zoom, said that one of today's biggest challenges facing businesses of all sizes is how to stay nimble and adapt to customers' evolving needs, while trying to figure out what hybrid work means to their organisations and find new ways to make employees feel more connected.
“As organisations shift and move more deeply into flexible work, our mission becomes all the more important,” Chong said. “We're listening to customers, and we're deeply focused on creating revolutionary innovations that deliver a connected communications experience on a single cloud platform.”
Empowering hybrid work through unified communications
Although Zoom became synonymous with videoconferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic, as workers started to emerge from lockdown the company has pivoted towards offering customers a more unified approach to collaboration and facilitating hybrid work efforts.
As a result, most of the announcements made at this year’s conference don’t relate to Zoom’s videoconferencing solution at all, instead focused on offering users “continuous collaboration” across all of Zoom’s platforms.
A primary example of this is the announcement relating to connected workstreams across Zoom One, Zoom’s all-in-one communication and collaboration offering that brings together Team Chat, Phone, Whiteboard, Meetings, and more.
Among the new capabilities announced at Zoomtopia is a new integration between Team Chat and In-Meeting Chat, allowing users to move between Team Chat and Meetings to reduce information silos and continue conversations once meetings have ended.
For customers who are looking for enhancements to their video meetings, Zoom has added more video and recording capabilities, including smart recordings to make meeting recordings more consumable, customisable meeting templates, new animal, human and Meta avatars, and the ability to create and share short video clips.
Also announced are new email and calendar integrations that aim to cut down on the time spent toggling among apps by allowing users to access their email and calendar directly in Zoom.
Outlook, Gmail integrate with Zoom
Cari Dick, senior product marketing manager at Zoom, explained that popular email and calendar services such as Outlook and Gmail will be integrated directly into Zoom, meaning users can quickly access their communications and scheduling.
Additionally, for businesses that don’t have dedicated IT services but are focused on privacy and security, Zoom has also launched a new Zoom-hosted email and calendar services, also directly integrated with the Zoom platform.
“Zoom Mail Service provides end to end encrypted email, when messages are sent directly between active Zoom Mail Service users,” Dick said. Zoom Mail and Calendar Services will launch in beta in 2023.
Finally, Zoom Spots is a new virtual co-working space, set to launch in early 2023. Described by Zoom as a “video-enabled persistent space,” Zoom Spots integrates with the Zoom platform to help facilitate conversations, keep colleagues connected, and bring the benefits of in-person interactions to distributed, hybrid teams.
Dick said that at companies where employees are working in disparate locations, there's a desire for connection, with colleagues often missing those serendipitous conversations that used to happen in the office.
“We're recreating that connection, virtually, with Zoom Spots,” Dick said, explaining that users will be able to join in conversations or catch up with colleagues in an ad-hoc and organic way.
“Our vision is that Zoom Spots will help foster inclusive discussions, keep colleagues connected on projects and bring the fluid organic interactions of in person work to distributed hybrid teams throughout the day,” Dick said.
Updates to Zoom Contact Centre
Having announced its intention to move into the contact centre market at Zoomtopia in 2021, the failed acquisition of cloud-contact centre company Five9 a month later saw Zoom press pause on its plans. Then, in February 2022, Zoom launched its own “video-optimised” contact centre platform.
Since then, Zoom acquired Solvy, a start-up that specialises in conversational AI and automation solutions for the contact centre, in May 2022. The fruits of that acquisition now appear to be paying off.
The biggest update to the Zoom Contact Center comes in the form of a new virtual agent, a chatbot that uses natural language processing and machine learning to understand and quickly resolve issues for customers.
Called Zoom Virtual Agent, the new capability provides around-the-clock multiple support channels to deliver fast, personalised customer experiences, with the aim of reducing call volumes to human agents and drive operational efficiencies for businesses. Zoom Virtual Agent will be available in early 2023 and can be fully integrated with Zoom Contact Center or purchased as a standalone chatbot solution.
A new integration with Zoom Kiosk will allow users to walk up to a kiosk and use the touch screen to step though the path they need to access the Contact Center resource. Zoom has also announced new integrations with tools like Zendesk and ServiceNow.