New features include developer tools, integration with third-party apps
Zoom, which has seen demand for its cloud-based video collaboration solutions spike during the COVID-19 pandemic, is rolling out a host of new features to its platform, including improved encryption and new developer tools.
The Lowdown: CEO Eric Yuan outlined the new features during the San Jose, California-based company’s two-day virtual Zoomtopia 2020 event this week.
The Details: Zoom has been at or close to the top of the leaderboard of collaboration technology vendors that have seen demand for their products soar since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, which forced a sudden shift to work-from-home business models and distance learning for students. The company stumbled early from questions about security and privacy but has been aggressive in addressing the concerns.
Given that, key among the new features is end-to-end encryption, an option that will be generally available in technical preview next week to both free and paid users. Users will be able to enable it at the account, group, and user levels, and meeting hosts will be able to toggle it on and off.
Communication between Zoom meeting participants will be encrypted via keys known only to the devices those participants are using.
Other new features include:
> OnZoom: With the online event platform and marketplace, users can create and host free, paid, and fundraising events, and hosts can grow their businesses and reach new audiences. Zoom users can find and sign up for the events and can leverage capabilities like gifting tickets. It’s available now.
> Customizable SDK: Through the enhancements to the software development kit, developers and organizations can use Zoom’s platform to improve their own video-based applications with video, audio, and instant chat. There is a customizable user interface and session control.
> Zapps: Developers can use the feature to create apps that drive workflows before, during, and after meetings. Zoom also is bringing first- and third-party apps that can be adopted in real time.
> Myriad enhancements: Zoom is showing off improvements to its core unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platform, including immersive scenes for customizing background themes; Zoom for Home to bring collaboration to devices ranging from Amazon Echo, Next Hub Max, and – in 2021 – hardware from Lenovo, HP, and Neat; and enhanced voice command options and simplified pairing of personal devices. Zoom also is upgrading its whiteboarding capabilities and artificial intelligence (AI)-based features for better face-to-face communications between in-office and remote participants.
More details can be found here.
The Impact: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and other collaboration platforms have seen spiking demand since the pandemic began and expect interest to continue after the public health crisis lifts as business executives have said they expect many employees to continue to work remotely at least part time.
Zoom in particular has seen an intense focus on its platform. Market research firm Synergy Research Group noted that in the first quarter, the global conferencing software-as-a-service (SaaS) market grew by 17% year-over-year, with Zoom being the primary beneficiary.
Zoom is now supporting more than 3 trillion annualized meeting minutes and regularly sees more than 300 million meeting participants a day, including those from more than 125,000 schools that are using Zoom for free during the pandemic.
Background: The demand is driving fast growth of Zoom’s bottom line. The company last month adjusted its fiscal year 2021 forecast by more than 30%, to $2.39 billion. That came after reporting a fiscal first quarter that saw revenue hit more than $664 million, a 335% jump.
The Buzz: “We have been working hard to create a world-class, value-filled virtual event. We have also been planning, preparing, and delivering on the promise of Zoom to best serve you,” Yuan said. “One thing we’ve learned in this challenging time is that remote work does work. The future will bring a hybrid of the best of in-person and virtual communications. The announcements we make today at Zoomtopia demonstrate that Zoom is built for this moment and beyond. We have the platform to support what the world needs – today, tomorrow, and well into the future.”