As usual, Enterprise Connect 2023 was chock full of new product announcements. Last week, Lisa Schmeiser, Editor-in-Chief, No Jitter, provided an overview of Zoom’s news. Her emphasis was Zoom IQ, the company’s AI-based “smart companion” for Zoom chat, email and meetings. Schmeiser also touched on a Zoom Contact Center-related announcement, Zoom Workforce Engagement Management. I've got a deeper dive.
In a meeting with Zoom Contact Center product, marketing, and sales leaders at the conference, I learned the company has had impressive market traction and made significant progress in maturing its fledgling offer. In this post, I will quantify Zoom Contact Center’s sales success and highlight what has changed about the company’s CCaaS offering – and CX portfolio – since the solution was launched as Video Engagement Center at Zoomtopia 2021 and re-launched as Zoom Contact Center in February 2022.
The title of the presentation Zoom used during the briefing says It all. Last year the news was Zoom Contact Center; now the term Zoom Customer Experience Suite is not an overstatement–- though to be honest, it is also not quite officially approved by corporate marketing. Let’s call the new title's appearance a case of message testing.
Zoom Virtual Agent
The graphic shows one element of the expansion from CCaaS to CX suite – the availability of Zoom Virtual Agent (ZVA). Based on technology from Zoom’s acquisition of Solvvy in June 2022, Zoom Virtual Agent is Zoom’s conversational AI and chatbot solution.
Within five months of the acquisition of Solvvy, the acquired product was completely rebuilt and improved upon, all on Zoom architecture. This means ZVA supports seamless escalation from self-service to a live agent on Zoom Contact Center. ZVA also now integrates with Salesforce, Zendesk, and ServiceNow for intelligent end-to-end support and better customer or employee experiences. (Note that ZVA can still be purchased standalone and/or integrated with a partner CCaaS platform, e.g., Five9, Genesys, NICE, etc.).
Mahesh Ram, the founding CEO of Solvvy and currently Head of Product, Digital CX, Zoom, is living one version of the entrepreneur’s dream. Acquisitions often promise to give a founder access to a global market – including a global go-to-market team – as well as increased engineering resources to bring innovation to market faster. There is no doubt that Solvvy’s purchase by Zoom gave the conversational AI solution a global stage.
In terms of product development resources, Ram reports that the size of his original Solvvy engineering team has more than doubled and the number of product managers has quintupled in the last year. He went on to say that in addition to these dedicated digital CX team resources, his team has access to technology being built by other Zoom engineering teams, especially AI. For example, “Real-time language translation was developed for Zoom Meetings, but we get to use it in Zoom Contact Center and Zoom Virtual Agent,” said Ram.
With Solvvy’s move to the Zoom architecture complete, Ram shared a roadmap for Zoom Virtual Agent aggressive both in timing and scope. It includes the addition of conversational AI for social and messaging channels as well as voice and SMS bots. Expect these capabilities to be announced between now and the next Zoomtopia, in October 2023.
Zoom Workforce Engagement Management
From this contact center analyst’s perspective, one of the most exciting announcements at Enterprise Connect was the news that Zoom has built, and is ready to start beta testing, Zoom Workforce Engagement Management (WEM). To be worthy of the nomenclature, WEM should include both quality management and workforce management – and Zoom has built both.
Just as Ram explained how development efforts across Zoom are being used to build out ZVA, Kentis Gopalla, Head of Zoom Phone and Contact Center Ecosystem, made similar remarks about the assets available within Zoom that helped in the rapid development of Zoom WEM. Transcription is an integral part of Quality Management and Zoom Meetings is continually perfecting transcription. Scheduling is also part of Zoom Meetings, so assets from that solution could be used to build Zoom WFM.
I encourage readers to take a close look at the features listed in the graphics below for both Zoom WFM and Zoom QM. These are not entry-level solutions. That said, as is true for CCaaS, Zoom will continue to partner with other WEM vendors for customers who prefer to stay with their existing solution or choose a Zoom WEM partner, e.g., Calabrio.
The WFM component of WEM is very sticky - company processes often revolve around it, e.g., union rules, pay systems, etc. Companies typically are reluctant to change from one WFM to another. But there are many benefits to a single platform for CCaaS and WEM, including the tight integration on the agent desktop that it allows. Using a WEM partner solution makes sense if companies need more features than Zoom currently has (e.g., arcane country-specific labor law attributes) or are currently using a certain partner’s solution. Moving to Zoom WEM makes sense if the existing solution is on-premises, is out of date in other ways and gains single-platform benefits.
Scott Brown, Head of Sales and Go-to-Market Contact Center, reports the company has already signed approximately 400 contact center customers. Ninety percent of those customers have come from Zoom’s existing customer base, e.g., Zoom Phone and/or Zoom Meetings. The ten percent that are greenfield for Zoom are typically also adding Zoom Meetings and/or Zoom Phone when they choose Zoom Contact Center.
Brown also stated that over 50% of Zoom Contact Center customers are enterprise accounts (defined as 1,000 or more employees) or multinationals. As reported during Zoom’s recent financial analyst call, one of those customers – a business process outsourcer – chose Zoom to support 2,000 agents to replace aging premises infrastructure. They also announced a major deployment with MLB.com with over 1,500 active agents.
After my first briefing on Zoom Contact Center a year ago, I asked Zoom’s then-head of product marketing if the company aspired to be in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for CCaaS. I noted that the company’s UCaaS offering (announced in 2019) was included in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS one year later (2020), shooting immediately into the leader quadrant - where it remained in 2021 and 2022.
Yes, Zoom does have Magic Quadrant aspirations for Zoom Contact Center, the marketing lead said, but recognize it might take longer than it had taken for UCaaS. Based on the progress made with Zoom Contact Center in just one year – with credit to the digital experience jumpstart the company acquired with Solvvy – two years looks just about right to me.