Fast growing cloud-based video meeting specialist Zoom Video Communications is strengthening its platform with a cloud PBX, new plug and play hardware devices, an app marketplace and an enhanced user experience.
From its foundation in 2011 and the launch of its video meeting platform in 2013, everything Zoom Video Communications has done has revolved around video and the cloud. This focus has proved very successful, helping the company achieve triple digit year-on-year growth in both revenue and user numbers.
In the last three years, Zoom has risen to 3rdplace on the Forbes 2018 Cloud 100ranking of the world’s top 100 private cloud companies, from 18thplace in 2017 and 84thposition in 2016.
Now, it is broadening its scope to include hardware devices, an app store and a cloud PBX, all of which were announced at the second Zoomtopia user conference held in San Jose on October 10-11 2018. New products and enhancements come under five main categories.
- The User Experience
The quality of the user experience has always been a key selling point of Zoom’s platform and all of its new announcements impact this to a degree, most specifically its virtual background option. For a couple of years, Zoom has had a green screen capability that has enabled users to drop in a background of their choice, such as a corporate logo or corporate image. It is now offering this capability to users who don’t have a green screen, such as home workers or mobile workers equipped only with a smartphone. Available on desktops and mobile devices (iPhone 8 or later), this feature identifies the dimensions/boundaries of each person and gives users a clean background onto which they can superimpose a static background that is less distracting than a scruffy home office or mobile location. In addition to video-based improvements Zoom has changed the interface of Zoom desktop application – including home page and zoom chat – for the first time since the application was launched in 2013.
- Hardware Appliances
Ease of use is a key attraction of Zoom’s decision to launch a range of all-in-one hardware appliances for the desktop, meeting room and conference room. Working closely with hardware partners, it is launching a family of devices incorporating a microphone, speaker, camera, display and Zoom Rooms software for true plug and play convenience, as an alternative to using Zoom Rooms software to bring together separate off-the-shelf monitors, speakers, cameras and controller device.
- Zoom App Marketplace
Today, a solution is only as good as its ecosystem and to make it easier for developers to create apps and for customers to find and download third party solutions, Zoom is launching the Zoom App Marketplace with a sandbox function for app development. It previously provided an SDK and API to encourage the integration of Zoom and other solutions, but there was no single place users could go to find them. The launch of Zoom App Marketplace changes this. There are currently around 40 apps available on the platform, all vetted by Zoom to ensure they provide the level of security and usability demanded by Zoom customers.
- Zoom Voice
Zoom announced a significant expansion of its voice capabilities, with the addition of a cloud phone system that makes it easier for users to escalate from a chat conversation to audio to video and removes the need to switch between different applications, for example between Zoom for video and RingCentral to make a call. It already had a softphone on the Zoom application that integrates with an existing PBX, but the launch of Zoom Voice as an add-on to its video communications suite with support for inbound and outbound calling through the PSTN will enable customers to replace their existing PBX and consolidate all communication and collaboration requirements on one platform. Zoom Voice will be rolled out globally in 2019.
- IT Administrator
Finally, Zoom has made a number of changes to help IT administrators with security and device management. These include an audio signature feature that embeds the credentials of every Zoom user connected to a meeting in the stream they receive. If someone shares a meeting externally, that audio signature can be put back into the Zoom Audio decoder to reveal the source of the leak. Zoom has also made improvements to the administrator dashboard, including intelligent alerts that notify whether a problem is a hardware issue or a network issue and conference room utilisation stats to help managers optimise use of space.
These are just some of the announcements made at Zoomtopia 2018. To find out more, please visit www.zoom.us