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Zoom Unveils New Tools for Business Events


Skift Take

Now that business events have come roaring back has Zoom — the lifeline for many companies whose employees couldn’t or wouldn’t meet in person — become less relevant?  Absolutely not.

Not so long ago Zoom was the lifeline for many companies whose employees couldn’t or wouldn’t meet in person. The company has just announced a slew of new features and partnerships investing in its bid to expand its user base and conquer new markets.

In one interesting new application, Zoom has teamed up with AMC Theatres to turn some venues into Zoom Rooms, combining the huge screen, comfortable seating, and excellent acoustics with the familiar virtual experience of a Zoom call. The companies anticipate launching Zoom Rooms at AMC locations in as many as 17 major U.S. markets sometime in 2023.

The partnership makes for an interesting synergy. Zoom anticipated demand changes even before face-to-face meetings came roaring back. AMC faced bankruptcy during the pandemic. Its theaters are centrally located and are usually mostly vacant during the day when most business meetings are held. “This creates an all-new product in major cities across the U.S. for companies and meeting planners,” said Adam Aron, chairman and CEO of AMC Theatres.

Once launched, planners will be able to book online in three-hour blocks across multiple markets, where typical auditorium sizes range between 75 and 150 seats. AMC and Zoom will provide the necessary A/V equipment and wireless connections. Onsite add-ons include food and beverage — presumably offerings beyond candy, soda, and popcorn — plus private film viewings and what the company calls “concierge-style handling of meeting needs.”

Both companies are energetically innovating to keep relevant in the post-pandemic world. AMC has ventured into retail, selling its branded popcorn outside its theaters, has a 22 percent stake in a gold mine, and created a special stock dividend called an APE.

At Zoomtopia 2022, Zoom’s annual (hybrid) conference, the company announced more than 1,500 features and enhancements. Moving away from the practical use of video calls Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan frames the company’s missions as finding new ways to “advance the way people connect with each other, their organization, and their customers.”

That’s been the experience of Warner Bros. Discovery, according to Dave Duvall, chief information officer of technology and operations. “We’ve been able to evolve with Zoom, particularly beyond meetings, with products like Zoom Phone, Zoom Rooms, and Zoom Team Chat,” he said. “The whole platform has really expanded our capabilities to collaborate and stay connected within the organization.”

Zoom is now in the process of beta testing its Zoom Mail and Calendar feature, also announced at Zoomtopia 2022. With Zoom Mail and Calendar, users no longer need to leave the Zoom platform to access their email and calendar. Zoom-hosted email and calendar service options, also directly integrated with the Zoom platform, were just rolled out, a solution for companies that don’t have a dedicated IT department.

Also announced at Zoomtopia 2022:

  • Zoom Spots: a video-enabled persistent (as opposed to an ad hoc) co-working space integrated within the Zoom platform. It’s designed to bring the fluid interactions of in-person work to remote and hybrid teams throughout their day. People can pop in and out of the Spot as needed.
  • Zoom Virtual Agent: a conversational AI and chatbot feature that uses natural language processing and machine learning to work on resolving customer issues. When it launches early next year, the virtual agent can be fully integrated with Zoom Contact Center or be used as a standalone chatbot solution.
  • Zoom One: a new product which combines Team Chat, Phone, Whiteboard, and Meetings, now integrates Team Chat and In-Meeting Chat. Its always-on functionality means users can flow between Team Chat and Meetings during and after Zoom calls.
  • Zoom IQ Virtual Coach: soon as part of Zoom IQ for Sales, simulates a variety of selling situations. It’s a virtual role-playing exercise allowing a salesperson to hone pitches, obtain feedback, and receive real-time content tips during calls with prospects.

As befits a company that standardized virtual meetings, Zoomtopia 2022 was a hybrid experience based in San Jose, California, powered by Zoom Events, the company’s virtual event management tool.

Photo credit: Corina Rainer / Unsplash