At its annual Zoomtopia conference in San Jose, California, videoconferencing company Zoom today announced a range of new products and capabilities, including an AI-powered document application called Zoom Docs and an expanded list of capabilities offered by the company’s recently launched AI Companion — all aimed at offering enterprises a more complete collaboration and communications platform for hybrid work.
Alongside its standard document capabilities, Zoom Docs also offers project-tracking and wiki-building features that integrate with the Zoom platform and third-party apps. Users will be able to collaborate on documents by tagging colleagues to loop them into discussions, adding comments and threads to explain context, and assigning tasks and sharing documents. Layouts can be customized with elements including tablesand image blocks, and AI-powered functionality will allow users to view content summaries and search documents for relevant information.
Zoom says Zoom Docs, combined with Zoom’s recently announced AI Companion, the company’s generative AI digital assistant, can help boost the ideation process. Users can, for example, ask for help editing, or change the tone of document content, brainstorm, and summarize or query content. AI Companion can also pull in information across Zoom Meetings and Team Chat to streamline the way information is shared across Zoom.
“Let me be clear, this is so much more than your average document. It’s really a next generation way of collaborating built from the ground up with AI at its core,” said Theresa Larkin, global lead for UCaaS product marketing at Zoom. Zoom Docs is scheduled to be generally available in 2024.
The announcement shows that Zoom is taking measured steps to expand its product line, said Wayne Kurtzman, IDC Research vice president for collaboration and communities.
“As this is early in the emerging technology changes we are experiencing, this is also early in Zoom’s journey and promising for the future,” he said.
Zoom seeks to dampen AI controversies
Zoom also announced it would be expanding the capabilities offered by Zoom AI Companion.
At a press conference for press and analysts the week before Zoomtopia, Randel Maestre, who leads Zoom’s AI developer ecosystem and industry product marketing teams, sought to address some of the recent controversies faced by Zoom regarding whether it’s using user data for AI training.
“We do not use any customer audio, video, chat, screen sharing attachments, or other communications-like content such as poll results, whiteboards, or reactions to train Zoom’s AI or any third party AI model,” Maestre said.
He noted that Zoom provides administrator as well as account owner controls for the enablement of AI features that are turned off by default, in addition to offering controls to meeting hosts and participants.
Expanding Zoom AI Companion
Launched last month, Zoom AI Companion currently allows users to quickly watch meeting recordings via highlights and smart chapters, review summaries and next steps, and provide automated meeting summaries that can be shared once a call has ended. Users can also catch up with missed content during ongoing calls by submitting questions via the in-meeting AI Companion side panel without disrupting the meeting flow.
In Zoom Team Chat, AI Companion can draft messages based on the context of a Team Chat thread, change tone and length, offer suggestions to help complete sentences and responses, and provide AI generated draft email suggestions in Zoom Mail.
To further build on the capabilities offered by AI Companion, Zoom debuted a new Whiteboard capability that allows users to generate ideas on a digital whiteboard and organize their thoughts into categories, helping teams get to work faster. Soon, Zoom customers will be able to use AI to generate images and populate templates from whiteboard content. Meeting and Team Chat summarization offerings, powered by Zoom AI Companion, will also soon be available to customers on specific Zoom Higher Education or Healthcare subscription plans.
Zoom said it will continue to expand AI Companion capabilities, with the ability to surface knowledge from meetings, chats, whiteboards, emails, documents — and, with users’ permission, from third-party applications — to provide the latest updates.
Users will also be able to ask AI Companion real-time questions during a meeting to catch up on key points in the discussion, create and file a support ticket on an issue raised during a call and receive real-time feedback on presentation skills and coaching on conversational skills in Zoom Meetings.
Additional summarization capabilities will include the ability to identify action items and key stakeholders, and surface next steps in Team Chat; add meeting summaries to Zoom Notes; break down and summarize complex Team Chat conversations and recommend smart replies; and summarize SMS threads and calls with Zoom Phone.
Finally, Zoom AI Companion also will help users compose chats in Zoom Events, providing suggestions and facilitating discussions in the virtual lobby.
“We have included AI Companion across our entire Zoom platform at no additional cost for customers with a paid services assigned to their eligible Zoom user account,” Maestre said. “This, by the way, is unlike other similar AI offerings that currently cost $30 or more, per user per month. By including AI companion at no additional cost, we feel that this will really drive adoption and usage.”
The announcements made by Zoom are part of the company’s direction as an intelligent communications and collaboration platform, Kurtzman said.
“Collaboration products are often additive, where enterprises use multiple applications to meet the needs of their business,” he said, adding that this leaves the door open for vendors like Zoom and to add value for all their customers, regardless of size.
Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.