How Zoom has transformed to become a comprehensive communications platform for businesses
Since the pandemic began, the terms "Zoom" and "video call" have become interchangeable. The platform went from 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019 to more than 300 million in April 2020, serving as a critical workplace connector, education connector, social connector, health care connector and family connector at a time when it felt like the world was falling apart.
Eric S. Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom
While we were all Zooming, the Zoom team was thinking ahead and designing new offerings that could continue to enable seamless collaboration, communication and connectivity while evolving with the shifting workplace culture. Eric S. Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom, believes that the future of work is hybrid, and focuses on ensuring people will have more choices in how they connect for work and in their daily lives.
"I truly believe that a flexible workforce is something that employers will need to accommodate in order to have the best shot to attract and retain talent. As leaders, we need to consider what is possible and how we can best position our colleagues and organization for success," said Yuan.
Research by Gartner confirms that: A recent report found that 75% of hybrid/remote workers have increased expectations around workplace flexibility. Further, 39% of knowledge workers surveyed said they may leave their job if they're expected to fully return in person.
To help employers meet workers where they are, Yuan said Zoom is building products that bridge the remote and in-office worlds. "We've innovated our way from a videoconferencing offering to a comprehensive communications platform that powers every type of organization," said Yuan. He shared examples such as a solution that allows workers to virtually reserve a physical desk in the office (hot-desking); a digital whiteboard built for real-time collaborating (Zoom Whiteboard); a cloud phone solution designed for desktops, desk phones or mobile phones (Zoom Phone); designs for the interactive virtual events of the future (Zoom Events Conference) and more.
"At Zoom, we're looking forward to a post-pandemic world, knowing that we're equipped to provide users with the best frictionless communication experience, whether that is fully-remote or a hybrid environment. The Zoom platform provides video, phone, chat, room and events solutions that have enabled remote teams to successfully support customers during the most demanding time in Zoom's 10-year history," said Yuan. "We will continue to adapt, seek to anticipate what comes next and enable it with total platform solutions."
Protocol sat down with Yuan to talk about Zoom's evolution, the future of work and the Zoom products he's most excited about.
What was it like as a business leader to see your business become such an integral part of the connected culture?
It has been an incredible journey, and we are so humbled and privileged that we have been able to play a role in helping people work remotely, attend school virtually and otherwise stay connected during the pandemic. It really validated all of the hard work that all of us Zoomies have put in to help build our platform.
Zoom was built to connect people and inspire customer happiness. As organizations shifted toward a new business landscape, it made our mission all the more important. As a customer-focused communications platform, we are proud of the many unique ways people have leveraged Zoom to continue to drive progress forward across all industries and geographies. We are proud that over half of the Fortune 500, 70% of the Fortune 100 and half a million businesses have chosen Zoom.
Was there a particular moment during the pandemic when you realized that the future of work had profoundly changed? What was that moment, and how did you respond to it?
The future of work has profoundly changed — how we connect, communicate, learn and do business. We saw tremendous growth within our platform by not just enterprises, but teachers, doctors, patients, government agencies and small-business owners all looking to bring people together. The Zoom team worked around the clock to support the tremendous influx of new and different types of customers all reliant on our vital communications platform to do important work and stay connected to their communities and colleagues.
What's the biggest challenge workplaces are facing right now?
A common challenge among many workplaces right now is addressing how and when a workforce returns to the office. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. At Zoom, we're preparing a hybrid approach — strategically mixing remote and in-office work. Today's hybrid workforce relies on collaboration tools to be efficient and productive, and Zoom is setting a new standard for working smarter, together. We are energized to help lead the evolution to hybrid work that allows greater flexibility, productivity and happiness to both in-person and virtual connections.
How are Zoom's products helping to enable the evolving workplace?
Technology is constantly evolving, and so is Zoom. We're committed to removing the barriers to effective and dynamic communication, and as part of that we are constantly innovating and thinking about what's next. This year we launched Zoom Rooms Smart Gallery, which uses AI to create individual video feeds of in-room participants, providing remote employees with an individual, clear view of each participant. It also enables remote workers to be represented equally on the screen with other participants. Zoom's recently announced hot-desking solution will allow employees to reserve desks and spaces in their offices using an interactive map. Zoom's built-in intelligence will help employees select a seat based on individual preferences and office availability, which communicates with Zoom Rooms and Zoom Phone devices and transforms the desk into a fully customizable personal device. As employers continue rolling out hybrid work policies, this creates a more inclusive environment for meetings and collaboration regardless of where you physically sit.
What Zoom products are you most excited about and why?
Today and tomorrow's hybrid, remote and co-located workforce relies on collaboration tools to be efficient and productive. We envision that Zoom Whiteboard, a digital canvas, will enable real-time collaboration, interactions with the whiteboard similar to an in-person experience and more visually engaging and efficient meeting experiences, as well as set a new standard for working smarter. This summer we expanded our platform vision by announcing Zoom Apps. These innovations will enhance the ways in which we connect and collaborate with our colleagues, clients, friends, family members and others, improving productivity and collaboration while maintaining elements of fun and well-being.
Another forthcoming innovation, our Video Engagement Center, a cloud-based contact-center solution that enables experts and end customers to connect over video, will provide users with the ability to offer unique digital experiences from physical locations like a brick-and-mortar store or digital experiences like a website or application. They will be able to build rapport and trust with their customers and share expertise in a structured and immersive virtual environment. Zoom Phone will also continue to be a driver for growth for our company. We surpassed 2 million Zoom Phone seats sold worldwide: going from zero to 2 million licenses in just over two and a half years, and doubling from 1 million to 2 million paid seats in less than nine months.
What's next for Zoom?
Looking forward, we will continue to scale and adapt the platform to our customers' needs and enable hybrid environments. Zoom meetings will become more inclusive with the addition of real-time transcription and automated translation services, with support for multiple languages within the coming year. Zoom Events Conference will bring the excitement and interactive feel of in-person events onto your screen. Hosts will be able to organize multitrack and multiday events in a sophisticated format with rich functionality, giving remote participants a chance to be involved and experience events even if they aren't physically in attendance. Soon, integration of Zoom Apps will be available throughout the platform, including Zoom Apps for Webinars, Zoom Apps for Mobile and immersive apps. We're continuing to grow our Zoom ecosystem and enhance the video communication experience in terms of collaboration, entertainment and efficiency.
What advice can you offer employers to prepare for that future?
Provide solutions that foster a mutual sense of trust. Through reliable connection, real-time collaboration and relentless innovations, employers can empower teams to be productive and successful. By providing solutions that allow teams to collaborate digitally, you can create an environment that enables hybrid collaboration and establish that trust within your teams.
To learn more about Zoom's current and future offerings, visit https://zoom.us/.