Key Takeaways from Zoomtopia
With increasing return to work mandates, evolving hybrid workspaces, and AI functionality becoming the norm for basically every app imaginable, there was plenty to talk about at this year’s Zoomtopia.
Coinciding with the release of Zoom’s own AI-driven features, this year’s edition of the video conferencing conference had a heavy focus on artificial intelligence. It also featured a memorable keynote address from Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger, talks by thought leaders from across industries, presentations by Zoom senior executives, and even a performance by Ludacris.
If you weren’t able to attend this year’s hybrid event online or in person in San Jose, CA, you can still catch up on archived recordings. But if you just want the highlights, here are the broad strokes.
Zoom Positions Itself as the Go-to RTO Solution
A recent Resume Builder survey found that 90% of companies with physical offices will have instituted return to office policies of some kind by 2024. After (somewhat ironically) calling its own employees to return to the office this year, Zoom wants to be at the forefront of that trend with these solutions.
- Visitor Management: This feature enables organizations to add check-in and visitor management functionality across locations and sync scheduling across teams. You’ll be able to set check-in questionnaires, require headshot uploads, assign permissions, and automatically report on attendance. Currently in private beta, this should be available generally by the end of the year.
- Workspace Reservation Updates: Already released, Zoom’s Workspace Reservation feature will be upgraded by 2024. You’ll be able to use the Zoom mobile app to track down your office space, find coworkers, set locations, and get straight to collaborating in-person even in the most sprawling office spaces. You’ll also be able to see real-time workspace availability and schedules. It even integrates AI to automatically keep teams close together.
- My Office View: Nested within Huddles, My Office View raises visibility about when collaborators are in the office or a Huddle. It also lets you transfer Team Chat messaging over to live Huddles. This should be available by next year.
- Zoom Scheduler: Using this feature, users will be able to easily schedule meetings, check availability, and streamline scheduling with centralized calendars.
- Workspace Dashboard: Generally available by 2024, this centralized hub will consolidate physical space management features into one convenient space.
Video Conferencing Hardware Is Rising to the RTO Occasion
Audio-visual integration for large meeting rooms can be complex. As anyone who’s ever tried to hold a Zoom call with a laptop and a projector in a conference room can attest, more space means more problems. You could spend an entire day setting up cameras, mics, and speakers just to find you’ve still got a dead zone where the marketing manager usually sits.
It’s becoming clear that in many workspaces, returning to office isn’t coming at the expense of virtual meetings with clients, vendors, partners, or hybrid/remote teams. Staying ahead of the growing RTO trends, this year’s Zoomtopia featured solutions for improving video, sound, and recording quality at scale. HP Poly and Nureva were at the forefront, offering hardware that helps users transform large conference rooms into viable video conferencing spaces with products that are modular, movable, and functional.
HP Poly offers an array of AV management solutions built for conferencing, including smart cameras, HD webcams, noise canceling bluetooth headsets, and hardware bundles. Meanwhile, Nureva gave a demonstration for its single-cord, easy to install sound bars that bring crisp, focused sound to large spaces. Featuring AI-driven noise cancellation, these sound bars automatically scan the room to modify sound blocking so those in the room get consistently clear sound and those outside the room get less residual noise. Meanwhile
AI Companion Enhancements
AI was at the top of everyone’s minds in 2023. Seemingly every application imaginable announced AI integrations into client-facing offerings this year, and Zoom has been no exception. Predictably, AI was a regular topic of discussion at this year’s Zoomtopia.
This talk included updates to Zoom’s relatively new generative AI tool, AI Companion, which just got a new integration. AI companion lets users access automated meeting summaries, jump to smart chapters in pre-recorded meetings, communicate in-meeting with the AI side panel feature, automatically generate and edit text in chats, and more.
You can now access Companion within the Whiteboard app to generate new ideas, summarize chats, and organize notes with the power of AI. You can now also access AI Companion’s settings for all of Zoom’s applications in one central hub. While this isn’t a massive update, it’s part of Zoom’s broader, ongoing AI campaign, so expect more (and bigger) AI updates to come.
Zoom Docs Will Help Streamline Hybrid Collaboration
One of the most talked-about new Zoom features (CEO Eric Yuan even discussed it in his talk) was Zoom Docs, a modular workspace that allows users to manage documents, data, projects, wikis, and more using AI. Designed to address the complexities of hybrid work, Zoom Docs enables team members to collaborate more efficiently in-office, out of office, and both.
According to a 2023 Littler Mendelson report on US-based employers, over 70% of surveyed companies institute a hybrid work environment. That means managing collaboration across work locations is vitally important as the nature of collaboration continues to evolve. To help companies keep up, Zoom Docs leverages Zoom’s existing AI Companion to automatically generate new content, reformat or summarize meeting content, and create custom tasks and wikis.
Integrated natively with Zoom along with its many third-party integrations, Zoom Docs should help employees work together more effectively both in and out of office.
More Collaboration Updates for Remote Teams
Though Zoom may be doubling down on RTO solutions, it’s still a virtual communication platform at its core. For remote and hybrid teams, the company announced a few notable feature updates for streamlining video and text chat.
- Zoom Clips: For those instances when full meetings aren’t necessary but text communication isn’t robust enough, users will be able to create, share, and edit short videos for asynchronous communication by the end of the year. These can be shared internally or posted externally.
- Chat Channels: By next year, users will be able to chat on individual Zoom features like whiteboards and notes, allowing them to create dedicated project hubs for collaboration.
- Meetings Tab: While the tab is already available, it’ll soon be built out to integrate scheduling, notes, and calendars, allowing users to consolidate all their meeting assets into one place.
If you missed the news, Zoom acquired employee communication and company culture platform Workvivo earlier this year, so Zoomtopia attendees could pretty confidently expect announcements about how Zoom would integrate its shiny new toy.
Zoom plans to leverage Workvivo for enhanced employee engagement measures, allowing managers and senior stakeholders to access agent performance metrics to help nurture their growth. The application’s Zoom integration is expected to go live soon (if not already by the time you read this), enabling Workvivo users to access a dedicated employee feedback and survey hub via Employee Insights.
Other Notable Zoom Updates
There were many notable updates from Zoom this year that didn’t fall neatly into the AI and RTO categories. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the other additions to look out for by 2024.
- Global Unified Search: This search upgrade lets you quickly find documents and communication across applications.
- Salesforce Integration: Zoom’s Salesforce contact center integration now connects to Zoom Events so event hosts can more readily leverage their CRM features across platforms.
- Open Ecosystem: Expect more third-party integrations to come as Zoom works toward advancing an even more open app ecosystem. Zoom seemingly intends for its platform to be a truly centralized workspace so users don’t need to jump from app to app.
- Updated Name Tags: Zoom Room users will soon be able to display their name with their video as name tags.
- Help Button: Within Zoom Rooms, a new help button feature will allow users to directly contact their IT personnel.
- Contact Center and Virtual Agent Updates: Updates to the Contact Center and Virtual Agent modules include generative AI capabilities, more advanced knowledge base article creation and automation, an outbound dialer, remote desktop control functionality, upgraded security features, and new integrations with WhatsApp and Messenger.
Zoomtopia 2023 rode the wave of some of the biggest workplace trends of the year—most notably, AI integrations and return-to-work movements. Zoom is pretty clearly positioning itself as a one-stop-shop for today’s hybrid work environment and as the go-to solution for the post-pandemic realities of the in-person office.
It’s worth noting that the keynote address from Charlie Munger made a bit of a splash as he downplayed the significance of AI (while also dismissing tech trends like crypto). It’s hard to temper the excitement for what AI offers, but it’s harder to ignore the wisdom from a financial giant like Munger. We’ll just have to watch how the AI revolution progresses between now and Zoomtopia 2024.