Zoom now wants to be known ‘as an AI-first collaboration platform’

Zoom doesn't want to be 'that video call company' anymore—here's its surprising new direction

Zoom now wants to be known ‘as an AI-first collaboration platform’ As a tech journalist, Zul focuses on topics including cloud computing, cybersecurity, and disruptive technology in the enterprise industry. He has expertise in moderating webinars and presenting content on video, in addition to having a background in networking technology.

COVID-19 has, in a sense, transformed Zoom from a business-only tool into a household name. Now, the $19 billion video-calling giant is looking to redefine itself, which means leaving behind much of what has made it a mainstay throughout its decade-plus history.

Graeme Geddes, Zoom’s chief growth officer, recently told Fortune, “Zoom is so much more than just video meetings. Video is our heritage—so we’re going to continue to lean in there, push the market, there’s a lot of innovation that we’re doing—but we’re so much more than that.”

The company’s new aspiration? “We want to be known as an AI-first collaboration platform,” Geddes declared. Though the rush to adopt AI is now a staple in the tech industry—with giants like Alphabet and Microsoft regularly discussing the technology on earnings calls—Zoom’s shift neatly dovetails with its efforts to extend its reach beyond simple video conferencing, aiming to enhance overall productivity.

In an effort to better cater to the needs of a hybrid world, Zoom introduced its suite of tools earlier this year for both remote and in-person employees, named Zoom Workplace. This platform includes everything from virtual whiteboards and guest check-ins to workspace booking and tech solutions, as well as feedback forms. Zoom also recently acquired the employee engagement platform Workvivo for approximately €250 million ($272 million). This acquisition, as Geddes points out, “has nothing to do with video.”

Zoom’s evolution extends to customer-facing solutions as well. “We’re helping our customers in the way that their customers show up to their website, having a chatbot automation service that can escalate into a phone call,” Geddes explained. “A lot of workflows that have no video involved.”

This strategic shift comes at a crucial time for Zoom. As businesses increasingly distance themselves from pandemic-era work styles and implement return-to-office mandates, the demand for remote video conferencing has decreased. Consequently, Zoom’s stock has returned to pre-pandemic levels, dropping from a peak of $559 in October 2020 to around $60 currently.

Jacqueline Barrett, an economist and founder of the Bright Arc, reflects on the initial pandemic response: “At the start of the pandemic, I think there were tons of people who flocked to Zoom. There was probably a little bit of overexcitement in terms of the stock, with people anticipating that the growth was going to be like that indefinitely.”

The market landscape has also become more competitive. “There’s so many other players in the market that are offering these new features that have already bundled things together or that are constantly unveiling new features with generative AI,” Barrett added.

“If it’s not the legacy players like Google or Microsoft or Cisco, there’s so many startups that are focused on pretty much every little niche imaginable with generative AI.”

The challenge Zoom faces with this response is not one-dimensional, as evidenced by its varied features. The company is expanding its products and utilising AI to amplify its technical capabilities. For example, as Geddes recounted, Zoom’s AI companion can automate note-taking and brief the next steps or action items during a meeting, whether all attendees are present in the conference room.

However, what’s most intriguing is that this is only the beginning of Zoom’s AI applications; it is also exploring the creation of digital twins or deepfake avatars. Eric Yuan, the founder and CEO of Zoom, stated that the AI-powered avatars would replicate the real owner’s voice and appearance, and also act independently during meetings, making business decisions for the owner.

“Today we all spend a lot of time either making phone calls, joining meetings, sending emails, deleting some spam emails, and replying to some text messages, still very busy,” Yuan explained. “But in the future, I can send a digital version of myself to join so I can go to the beach.”

While this technology is still in development, it has already proven to be a useful AI feature for Zoom. Geddes shared how he used the Zoom smart summary feature to stay informed about meetings during his international travels, enabling him to make important decisions and keep projects on schedule.

As it transitions, Zoom clearly aims to do more than just adjust to the post-pandemic world; it is actively setting the course for the future of work and collaboration. By adopting AI-driven solutions and moving beyond its traditional video conferencing base, Zoom is dedicated to keeping its leading position in business communication and productivity tools as the workplace evolves.

(Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions)

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