Zoom sets its place as a critical piece of the future communications puzzle

Ricky: online communications will continue to stay relevant

Founded 11 years ago as a communications technology company in the US, Zoom is today a household name and a popular verb, thanks to people’s heavy reliance on the solution throughout the pandemic.

As communication needs changed amid travel and social disruptions, Zoom blazed an innovative trail over the past 18 months, dishing out Zoom Phone, Zoom Rooms, Zoom Apps, Zoom Events, and Zoom Contact Center.

Ricky: online communications will continue to stay relevant

“The world is moving into a hybrid space, and all these products that we have introduced are setting us up for that hybrid world,” said Ricky Kapur, head of APAC, Zoom, in an interview with TTGmice.

According to Kapur, these communications solutions are seeing strong adoption. Zoom Phone has acquired two million users in a period of 18 months, and is regarded as one of the fastest-growing cloud products in the market.

Zoom Apps, launched in July 2021, has more than 50 different applications that are integrated into Zoom “to make meetings more fun, to be more feedback oriented, to ‘gamify’ meetings, and to also run business workflows (more efficiently)”, he detailed.

Third-party apps available to users include Asana, which is designed to help teams organise, track, and manage their work; DocuSign, which allows users to manage electronic agreements; and HubSpot, which is designed for marketing, sales and customer service.

As an all-in-one event management solution, Zoom Events is being used to host internal events like town halls, all-hands meetings and new hire orientations.

Singapore’s National Day Rally 2021 leveraged Zoom Webinar to bring together 1,800 attendees online alongside in-person participants. Zoom also used Zoom Webinar for its own Zoomtopia 2021, the annual high-impact customer event. From familiar features like Q&A, polling and real-time chat to more sophisticated features like scheduling live and pre-recorded sessions, live interpretation and live transcription, Zoom was able to host a more inclusive experience for attendees around the world.

In an increasingly hybrid workplace, Kapur expects Zoom products to play an even more critical role in connecting people in multiple locations, and facilitating the agility that companies will need going forward.

When asked for his views on the constant debate on the possible demise of online communications and events as the world returns to international travel, Kapur said it was “a highly exaggerated thought process”.

He said many in-person events that have resumed recently in Singapore and other reopened destinations were conducted in a hybrid format that allowed subject matter experts to still be involved even when they were unable or unwilling to travel for the event.

“Event organisers were even creating little kiosks with Zoom Rooms, where participants can go in and meet a subject matter expert who may not be physically present in that event,” he said.

To emphasise his point about the continued and growing relevance of online communications, particularly for Zoom products, Kapur listed three major shifts in business operations.

The first shift is occurring in the employee workforce, where organisations are recognising the importance of providing flexible work arrangements to retain staff, which has got them “thinking very deeply about how they execute the return-to-work process, and how they can create inclusive, productive and collaborative work environment”.

“People have the choice to work in a manner that makes them most productive, most collaborative, and most inclusive. We’ve seen enough data and research out there. Ernst and Young’s study showed that in South-east Asia, nine out of 10 people want to work in a hybrid world. In our own survey with Qualtrics, where we polled people in Singapore, 84 per cent of them expect work to be virtual and hybrid,” he elaborated, adding that employees would move on if they were not given a productive environment to perform.

The second shift is around customer servicing, where companies are deliberating on the best manner to provide a rich and immersive experience. In the space of banking, for instance, banks are devising ways to provide efficient services that do not require customers to make a physical journey to a bank branch or have staff travel to a customer’s home, which hampers productivity.

Citing another example of such a shift in the retail sector, Kapur said companies are looking at ways to welcome purchases online, but with the option to beam customers into the store to speak with real service staff and see the product in a live video. Customers can then decide to buy it online, or visit the store in person.

“Companies that reimagine the customer experience with a video-first lens will win in this era,” he stated.

The third shift is around new digital platforms – an “exciting” observation that is strong in Asia-Pacific. “Companies are thinking of recreating things like education technology or virtual platforms for digital health. Many of them are embedding Zoom into their platform to connect better with the consumer,” he shared.

Advancements over the past two years have strengthened Zoom, giving it a larger physical presence here in Asia-Pacific. Kapur said the company now has people servicing their expanded customer base, and more partners on board to engage customers.

The company will continue to do more going forward, particularly in making Zoom more accessible to developers.

“We have opened our developer platform so that any company that wants to embed Zoom into their platform can do so very easily. As a result, we’re seeing new digital platforms being built for health tech, fintech, retail tech, and more,” said Kapur.

“People are building Zoom into their platform and reaching new communities. We are absolutely critical to the next phase of evolution, of communications in business, and that shows up in our numbers. We’ve had record-breaking two quarters in terms of revenue,” he added.

In 3Q2021, Zoom’s total revenue was US$1,051 million, up 35 per cent year-on-year, while the following quarter recorded US$1,071 million, up 21 per cent year over year.

It rounded up the fiscal year 2022, which ended January 31, 2022, with total revenue of more than US$4 billion, growing 55 per cent year-on-year along with increased profitability and operating cash flow growth.

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