Zoom launches an AI companion and introduces AI-heavy Zoom Revenue Accelerator

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala – SiliconANGLE.

No stranger to hype, Zoom Video Communications Inc. is jumping on the generative artificial intelligence bandwagon with both feet.

After introducing AI in early June for composing team chats and meeting summaries, the company on Tuesday expanded that commitment in two areas:

  • Zoom AI Companion: Formerly known as Zoom IQ, the company describes this service (pictured) as a generative AI assistant. Zoom will provide it at no additional cost to paid Zoom users. Zoom is attempting to disrupt the market by offering it for free, as other vendors have chosen to tack on a hefty price tag. Google charges $30 per user per month, whereas Microsoft Co-Pilot is a whopping $43 per user per month. Zoom believes that an AI companion should be something available to all users.
  • Zoom Revenue Accelerator: Previously branded Zoom IQ for Sales, the company’s conversation intelligence software is being rebadged, with AI features as the lead. Zoom IQ for Sales launched, and according to customers I talked to, it wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Zoom has now revamped the product and is relaunching it with new use cases to improve usage.

Here’s a closer look at the new offerings:

Zoom AI Companion

The company says that AI Companion will be part of the familiar experience of its entire platform, including Meetings, Team Chat, Phone, Email and Whiteboard. Zoom says additional features are on the way. These are some of the most prominent capabilities the company introduced for AI Companion.

Zoom Meetings users can watch highlights and smart chapters of recordings. Summaries and next steps will also be available for people to catch up on a missed meeting. In the meeting, if enabled by the meeting host, attendees can catch up quickly without disrupting the meeting flow by discreetly submitting questions via the in-meeting AI Companion side panel to receive an AI-generated answer on what they missed. After a meeting ends, hosts can get an automated meeting summary they can share.

One good use case is easing the issues with meetings across time zones. People on the other side of the world can catch up asynchronously. The company says that by the spring of 2024, Zoom Meetings will be able to provide real-time feedback on people’s presence in meetings and coach on conversational and presentation skills.

If you’ve ever used Zoom Team Chat, you know losing the conversation thread is easy. But it’s an important tool to connect teams across time zones. The company says that AI Companion will enable the quick creation of messages based on the context of a chat thread — with the ability to change tone and length. Zoom promises that users will soon be able to catch up on gen AI summaries of long chat threads. And early next year, it will add auto complete for chat sentences and the ability to schedule meetings from a chat.

This fall, Zoom Whiteboard users will get help from AI Companion with generating and categorizing ideas. By spring 2024, users can harness their whiteboard content to create images and populate whiteboard templates.

Zoom Revenue Accelerator

Revenue Accelerator is a revamp of the former Zoom IQ offering. The company says it listened to feedback that, despite (or maybe because of) a 400% increase in sales over the first quarter, “Zoom IQ for Sales didn’t reflect the power of the product,” according to Mahesh Ram, head of AI applications and products at Zoom.

At first glance, one might wonder why a product with 400% growth would need to be changed. A couple of points here: The 400% number looks good as a percentage; from what I understand, that was off a small number. Also, Zoom does have a loyal customer base that is often willing to try new products, hence the early success with products such as Zoom Phone, Contact Center and, in this case, Zoom IQ. As I pointed out earlier, customers told us the product had some issues and didn’t give the best recommendations.

Rebadged as Zoom Revenue Accelerator, the solution uses a more mature AI stack and has several AI-based features, including meeting summaries, chapter summaries, sentiment, engagement, talk/listen ratio and next steps/good questions. Plus, it includes the ability to “smart compose” emails for meeting follow-up.

The company plans to expand the offering to include Virtual Coach, Deal Risk Signals and Discover Monthly for sales teams.

  • Virtual Coach will help onboard and train sales teams with simulated conversations about new products and methodologies. The tool will include an objective performance assessment that sales can act on for improved messaging consistency.
  • Sales teams can use the rules-based Deal Risk Signals to get alerts if a deal doesn’t move in the pipeline as expected.
  • Uncovering trends, such as the frequency of competitor mentions on calls, is a core function of Discover Monthly. The feature will summarize the trends monthly (hence the name), providing revenue teams with insights that will help with sales effectiveness.

Zoom has taken the right approach to adding features. It actually listens to its customers. The company needs to distinguish itself in a crowded field, and these latest updates are an intriguing step in the right direction.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.