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Zoom rebrands existing generative AI features and introduces new ones

To stay competitive in the crowded video conferencing market, Zoom is updating and rebranding many of its AI-powered features, including the generative AI assistant formerly known as Zoom IQ.

The news follows controversy over changes to Zoom’s terms of service, which implied that Zoom reserved the right to use customer videos to train its AI tools and models. In response to this blowback, Zoom updated its policy to explicitly state that “communication-like” customer data will not be used in the training of AI applications and services for Zoom or its external partners.

Software Freedom Conservancy, the nonprofit that provides support and legal services for open source projects, recently called on developers to drop Zoom due to changes to the terms of service.

“Zoom’s goal is to invest in AI-powered innovation that improves user experience and productivity while prioritizing trust, security, and privacy,” Zoom wrote in a press release shared with TechCrunch. “In August, Zoom said it does not use any audio, video, chat, screen sharing, attachments or other client-type communication.
customer content (such as poll results, whiteboards, or reactions) to train Zoom or third-party AI models.

Zoom AI Companion

The rebranded Zoom IQ AI Companion is powered by the same mix of technologies as Zoom IQ: Zoom’s in-house generative AI along with AI models from vendors like Meta, OpenAI, and Anthropic. But its reach extends to more corners of the Zoom ecosystem, including Zoom Whiteboard, Zoom Team Chat, and Zoom Mail.

Perhaps the biggest news is that Zoom is getting what is essentially a ChatGPT-like bot via AI Companion. In spring 2024, Zoom will have a conversational interface that will allow users to chat directly with AI Companion, ask questions about previous meetings and chats, and take action on their behalf.

For example, users will be able to query AI Companion about the status of projects, viewing transcribed meetings, chats, whiteboards, emails, documents, and even third-party apps. They will be able to ask AI Companion questions in a meeting to learn about key points, create and file support tickets, and draft responses to inquiries. And — as was possible with Zoom IQ — they’ll be able to have AI Companion summarize meetings, automatically identify action items, and surface next steps.

The AI ​​Companion provides suggestions in Team Chat.

Also starting next spring, AI Companion will provide “real-time feedback” on people’s attendance at meetings, as well as coaching on their conversational and presentation skills.

It’s not a feature that all users are likely to appreciate, especially those worried about Zoom’s possible AI ulterior motives. But Zoom stresses that real-time feedback, along with other AI Companion features, can be turned off at any time by an account owner or administrator.

Elsewhere, in Zoom Team Chat, Zoom’s messaging app, users will soon (within weeks) have the ability to summarize chat threads via AI Companion – a feature also offered by Zoom IQ. (This reporter is skeptical of AI’s synthesis capabilities, but I’ll withhold judgment until I see Zoom’s technology in action.) By early 2024, users will have the ability to auto-complete Chat phrases – similar to the AI ​​in Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. -generate responses, as promised with Zoom IQ, and schedule meetings from a chat.

In a previously telegraphed feature, Zoom Whiteboard, Zoom’s collaborative whiteboard tool, will be able to generate images and populate templates through AI Companion in the spring of 2024. It’s unclear which image generation template will power this capability, but presumably the results will be consistent with text-to-image conversion tools such as DALL-E 2 and OpenAI’s MidJourney. (Whether there are content filters and bias mitigation of any kind is another matter.)

In early fall, users of Zoom’s email client, Zoom Mail, will be able to receive AI-generated email suggestions from AI Companion, similar to Zoom IQ. And by spring 2024, Zoom users will have the ability to add meeting summaries to the platform’s note-taking app, Notes, and summarize text message threads and phone calls. Zoom VoIP service, Zoom Phone.

Most, if not most, of AI Companion’s features will be found in the side panel of the Zoom app. But not for all users. Only paying Zoom customers will be able to access it once they go live.

Zoom Revenue Accelerator

In Zoom’s second rebrand today, Zoom IQ for Sales, Zoom’s sales support tool, becomes Zoom Revenue Accelerator.

Zoom IQ for Sales was not particularly well received at launch, with critics claiming the sentiment analysis algorithms used in the feature were fundamentally flawed. More than two dozen rights groups have called on Zoom to abandon its efforts to explore what they called “inaccurate” and “undertested” technology.

Zoom didn’t end Zoom IQ for Sales in the end. Instead, it moved the tool’s feature set from sentiment analysis to more mundane use cases — and continues to do so, by all appearances.

Zoom announced several new features coming to Revenue Accelerator, including a “virtual coach” to simulate conversations for onboarding and training sales team members. The virtual coach can assess salespeople’s product presentation performance using various sales methodologies, similar to other AI-based sales training platforms in the market.

Zoom Virtual Coach

Zoom’s virtual coach feature.

Deal risk signals additionally arrive in Revenue Accelerator, allowing trade team members to use a rules-based engine to send alerts if a deal has not progressed within a specified time period. Another upcoming feature, to be discovered monthly, will track how competitors are mentioned in calls and summarize trends on a monthly basis.

Zoom’s overhaul comes at a pivotal time for the tech giant, which faced its first $108 million quarterly loss since 2018 in fourth-quarter fiscal 2023 results. laid off 15% of its staff, or about 1,300 people, due to lower post-pandemic demand and increased competition from Microsoft, Cisco, Webex, Slack and others. (Zoom was a major beneficiary of the pandemic, when social distancing rules made video conferencing an essential tool.)

Zoom’s outlook has become a bit more optimistic for the quarter ending April as the company tightens its belt. As Zoom posted the slowest quarterly growth ever at 3% and a drop in online revenue, it raised its annual revenue forecast to between $4.47 billion and $4.49 billion, an increase of about 2%, from $4.44 billion to $4.46 billion.


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