Zoom unveiled a partnership with and investment in AI chatbot safety and research company Anthropic, bringing generative AI technology to the collaboration and video vendor's platform.
The integration is currently in internal beta, and Zoom plans to launch it as a free trial in the coming weeks. Zoom will integrate Anthropic's virtual AI assistant, Claude, into its platform, starting with Zoom Contact Center.
The goal of the partnership, unveiled on May 16, is to capitalize on Anthropic's AI research and development work toward responsible large-scale AI systems and adopt a federated approach to AI, according to Zoom. Anthropic was founded by former employees of ChatGPT creator and Microsoft partner OpenAI.
Training on the edge
The federated approach to AI, also known as federated learning, is an AI model training strategy that doesn't rely on data exchange on client devices. Instead, training takes place on the edge for a more decentralized and secure approach.
Zoom's federated approach to AI uses its own technology in addition to other models, such as Claude, to meet a variety of customer demands.
In this way, the federated AI approach also secures technology shareability between organizations, rather than products that are so tightly integrated with their own brand that other tools will be incompatible, leaving the customer locked in with the one vendor, according to ZK Research analyst Zeus Kerravala.
Zeus KerravalaAnalyst, ZK Research
The vendor lock-in model, which has been the norm in the communications industry, can also be frustrating for customers and slow technology uptake, Kerravala said.
"Open and federated platforms make adoption by customers easier and less risky, and that creates a rising tide where the best products win," he said.
Watching competitors Microsoft, Google and others champion their own AI assistants, Zoom probably felt pressure to strengthen its own generative AI offerings, Deep Analysis analyst Matt Mullen said.
Microsoft has Copilot for Dynamics 365, and last week, Google introduced a new AI assistant for Workspace. Meanwhile, Slack and Zendesk are developing GPT-based generative AI tools with OpenAI.
"In placing an investment in a third party, they're taking a slightly different path and one that could provide them with a greater amount of influence in Anthropic's roadmap for Claude, that they otherwise wouldn't have had with a straight third-party product integration," Mullen said.
Zoom did not disclose how much money it is investing in Anthropic. Microsoft has pledged to pump $10 billion into OpenAI over time.
Setting new expectations for the contact center
The last disruptive trend in contact centers was moving to the cloud, and Zoom was slow to transition, according to Kerravala. But this partnership slingshots Zoom back to competitiveness in the contact center niche, he said.
"This was a good move for Zoom," Kerravala said.
Many contact center vendors either build their own AI tools or ally with AI vendors, but Zoom is doing both, which gives the vendor greater access to leading AI capabilities, he said. The partnership also lets Zoom quickly add new CX-geared AI tools to give its customers better CX capabilities.
"Without a doubt, AI is the next big disruptive trend in contact center, and Zoom is taking an aggressive approach there," Kerravala said.
New summarizing tools for Zoom IQ
Zoom also unveiled new capabilities coming to Zoom IQ, another generative AI assistant it is using, built with technology from OpenAI. Zoom IQ will be able to summarize chat threads and write messages for chat, email and whiteboard meetings, as well as create meeting agendas, the vendor said.
The new features are in internal beta and will be released as a free trial in the coming weeks, according to Zoom.
Zoom IQ will be able to create a whiteboard session for a meeting based on a user's text prompts, and Zoom IQ chat will be able to help users write and rephrase responses. Zoom IQ will also be able to summarize Zoom meetings in real time and answer other questions about the meetings, according to Zoom.
Mary Reines is a news writer covering customer experience and unified communications for TechTarget Editorial. Before TechTarget, Reines was arts editor at the Marblehead Reporter.