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Zoom Unveils Docs, Upgrades Contact Center Offerings
Today, Zoom used Zoomtopia 2023 event to announce new innovations that strengthen its core business and enable Zoom’s continued expansion into the contact center business.
The lead item was the unveiling of a product that Zoom CEO had hinted at during the company industry analyst event, Perspectives, earlier this year: Zoom Docs, Zoom’s own document application available within the Zoom collaborative workspace.
One might wonder why Zoom would enter the docs space with Microsoft Word having such a hefty lead. The thesis behind Zoom entering the docs space is that apps like Word, and Google Docs are meant to replicate paper to be printed later -- but people rarely print things when they collaborate. On a pre-briefing with analysts, Zoom’s Head of Products, Meetings, Spaces, and Whiteboard, Jeff Smith, made it clear that Zoom is trying to redefine the concept of a document – it’s no longer a static record but a dynamic repository of the information vital to a collaboration. Smith started his presentation by saying, “Before we make any assumptions, let me be clear -- this is more than your average document. This is marking the end of the traditional 8 ½ x 11 documents. This is a next-generation way to collaborate, and it's built from the ground with AI at its core.”
Zoom Docs goes beyond basic functionalities and is embedded with advanced features to enhance the user experience. Since AI powers it, the tool can assist users with content creation and comprehension through accessible formats and refined search queries. The AI companion also simplifies composition and summarization, making writing content easier and faster for users.
Additionally, Zoom Docs users can customize layouts and workflows, organize data, track tasks, and manage schedules with the table blocks feature—all with one click. Table blocks assist users in arranging data by utilizing columns, filters, and grouping.
The tool encourages collaboration by allowing users to include mentions of their colleagues in discussions and add comments and threads to maintain context. Users can also integrate wikis and shared folders, linking different pages and embedding them in a visual tree structure so they can see how different pieces of information are connected. People can drag and drop information-organizing elements like tables into the documents, and Zoom Docs offers the ability to generate and insert meeting summaries into documents so teams can get more context around the contents of the documents. Overall, Zoom Docs aims to be an intelligent, user-friendly tool that enhances collaboration and productivity in modern work environments. It’s slated for general release in 2024.
Another innovation is the Global Unified Search functionality, enabling users to find information across the Zoom platform. The company has been adding more and more functions to Zoom to replace or augment other products. For example, introducing Zoom Mail and Calendar lets users see their Gmail or Outlook within the Zoom platform. I turned it on for my own use and, on the pre-briefing, questioned the value as it appears I swapped an app for a tab within Zoom. Smith explained that the ability to apply search and AI across all the apps is where the value is. Often, I find myself looking for a document and can’t remember if it was e-mailed or sent in an app like Zoom. Global Unified Search across the Zoom platform creates that “1+1 = 3” value.
Another announcement was updates to Zoom AI Companion, which the company re-launched three weeks ago as a free add-on for paying Zoom customers. The company currently has several Zoom AI Companion capabilities, including Whiteboard, meetings, Team Chat, and Zoom Mail. At Zoomtopia, the company announced real-time feedback and coaching, Zoom Phone AI capabilities, and data integration from third-party applications such as CRM systems and help desk applications.
Zoom also announced the integration of Workvivo into the desktop application. Earlier this year, Zoom announced the acquisition of Workvivo, and Smith made it clear the company is continuing to invest in it. By having it be part of the Zoom app, unified search and AI can be applied to Workvivo. Another enhancement is employee insights, which will help measure, understand, and improve employee engagement.
Finally, Zoom also announced many updates to Contact Center. This is a critical area for Zoom as it significantly adds to its total addressable market and growth potential. Contact Center announcements include:
- AI Companion for Contact Center to generate interaction summaries during handoffs from virtual to live agents.
- AI Expert Assist to present real-time outputs that help streamline workflows.
- Outbound dialer, which is a necessary feature and helps Zoom establish itself as a viable alternative to competitive CCaaS providers.
- Third-party integrations give agents a broader look at customer experience without having to toggle between apps.
- Remote desktop control is a key addition for IT help desk customers using Zoom Contact Center to troubleshoot and resolve technical issues.
- Inbound email support makes it easier for agents to engage and respond to customers.
- Data privacy has been beefed up by adding the ability to enable data reduction and use customer-managed keys. This is important for customers in regulated industries.
While Zoom is a late entrant into the contact center, AI and the integration with UC act as a disruptive force and opens the door for Zoom to compete, Zoom had already been developing its contact center products with an eye toward nontraditional contact center use cases; these integrations allow the company to appeal to customers ranging from SMBs to enterprise-level operations.
During the analyst briefing, Michelle Couture, Customer Experience Product Marketing stated, Zoom is using AI “To deliver one, unified journey.” If it can do that, Zoom has better than a puncher's chance of gaining market share.
While the UC and CC spaces are both very crowded with some tough competition, Zoom has one enviable asset that none of the others do and that is that users generally like and prefer Zoom. While IT departments can force users to use Microsoft Teams for internal meetings and collaboration, Zoom tends to find its way into functions that are customer-facing as it “just works.” The announcements at Zoomtopia broaden the Zoom platform and bring that Zoom-like experience to a broader set of workers with more use cases. Entering documents so shortly after announcing e-mail can be considered bold but being bold is likely what it takes to win in this space.