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Zoom spreads AI across collaboration services

Zoom's new AI-powered Workplace enters a market in which enterprises worry about the loss of data control in AI applications spreading across collaboration platforms.

Zoom Video Communications has launched an AI-powered collaboration hub for internal and external applications to make corporate workers more productive.

Workplace consolidates Zoom chat, phone, video and email. It also comes with APIs, SDKs and integrations with products available in the Zoom App Marketplace. Examples include email and cloud storage services from Google and Microsoft.

Workplace, introduced at Enterprise Connect this week, includes Zoom's AI assistant at no additional cost. Not charging for the service, called AI Companion, could be an advantage over rivals Microsoft and Google, which charge as much as $30 per user, per month, for their AI bots.

This year, enterprises are evaluating AI assistants to determine whether the paid versions are worth the additional costs, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at research firm Metrigy.

That evaluation could include recent criticism of Zoom's use of AI. In August, Zoom changed its terms and conditions to broaden its control over user data. The move concerned customers and led to a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed by the Center for AI and Digital Policy.

Zoom reversed the changes following the criticism, and the snafu is unlikely to cause long-term credibility problems with enterprises, Gartner analyst Avivah Litan said.

Nevertheless, enterprises want complete control over meeting conversations, chat threads and email content within Zoom and other platforms with AI applications, she said. Today, most collaboration platforms do not provide the controls that would satisfy enterprise legal departments.

"There is a tremendous concern in organizations about collaboration tools and [generated] transcripts," Litan said. "Everyone's afraid these transcripts will end up in court or with competitors."

AI Companion in Workplace

Zoom has integrated AI Companion into the products within Workplace, including Meetings, Team Chat and Whiteboard. The integration enables the AI assistant to compose messages and emails, as well as generate summaries of all conversations. It also allows collaboration on documents, whiteboards and notes during meetings.

Zoom also incorporated AI Companion into Zoom Phone, enabling the AI assistant to summarize calls, prioritize voicemails and recommend follow-up tasks.

In May, Zoom plans to add a feature called Ask AI Companion, which can gather, consolidate and share information from multiple sources across the Zoom platform and select third-party applications. The tool is meant to help users prepare for meetings and follow up with people afterward.

The company also made improvements to its video conferencing platform with the introduction of Workplace. Zoom has changed its Meetings app to provide a multi-attendee view that highlights speakers.

Zoom launched Workplace at a time when revenue growth has slowed. In the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, revenue grew 3.1%, compared with 7% in the previous fiscal year.

Nevertheless, Zoom remains popular with corporate workers, and its Workplace feature could prove useful to its fans, according to analysts.

"Zoom is well liked by users. Our data continuously shows that if Microsoft and Google customers have access to Zoom, most will use it for meetings," Lazar said.

Zoom competes head-on with Microsoft Teams, which has increased its share of the collaboration market for several years as a component of the Microsoft 365 productivity suite, said Gabe Knuth, an analyst at TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group.

"It's incumbent upon them to demonstrate value above and beyond what the collaboration features of Teams and Microsoft 365 can do," Knuth said.

In other Zoom news, the company and Avaya launched a partnership that will let the latter's customers access its communication and collaboration suite from Workplace. Avaya plans to make the product integration available this year.

Antone Gonsalves is an editor at large for TechTarget Editorial, reporting on industry trends critical to enterprise tech buyers. He has worked in tech journalism for 25 years and is based in San Francisco. Have a news tip? Please drop him an email.

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