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Zoom Overhauls and Introduces New Generative AI Features

In a bid to maintain its competitive edge in the crowded videoconferencing market, Zoom is undergoing a major overhaul and rebranding of its AI-powered capabilities, most notably, the generative AI assistant formerly known as Zoom IQ.

This decision follows a wave of controversy stemming from changes to Zoom’s terms of service, which had initially suggested that Zoom could utilize customers’ video data to train its AI tools and models. In response to the ensuing backlash, Zoom revised its policy to explicitly state that it would not employ customer data resembling communications for AI training, whether for internal use or with external partners.

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This shift raised concerns to the point where the Software Freedom Conservancy, a nonprofit organization providing support and legal services for open-source projects, urged developers to abandon Zoom due to these revised terms of service.

Zoom AI chat companion

“Zoom’s primary objective is to invest in AI-driven innovations that enhance user experience and productivity while upholding trust, safety, and privacy,” Zoom stated in a press release shared with TechCrunch. “As of August, Zoom confirmed that no customer audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, or other communication-like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboards, or reactions) is employed in the training of Zoom’s or third-party AI models.”

Zoom AI Companion

The rebranded Zoom IQ, now called the AI Companion, harnesses the same blend of technologies as its predecessor, Zoom IQ. This includes Zoom’s in-house generative AI as well as AI models sourced from prominent vendors like Meta, OpenAI, and Anthropic. The AI Companion’s reach, however, extends to more facets of the Zoom ecosystem, encompassing Zoom Whiteboard, Zoom Team Chat, and Zoom Mail.

One of the most noteworthy additions is the introduction of a ChatGPT-like bot through the AI Companion, slated for release in spring 2024. This conversational interface will enable users to engage in direct conversations with the AI Companion, allowing them to inquire about past meetings and chats, and even perform actions on their behalf.

For instance, users will have the ability to request project status updates, draw from transcribed meetings, chats, whiteboards, emails, documents, and even third-party applications. During meetings, they can ask the AI Companion questions to catch up on crucial points, create and file support tickets, and draft responses to inquiries. Just like with Zoom IQ, users will have the AI Companion summarize meetings, automatically identifying action items and highlighting the next steps.

Beginning in the same season, the AI Companion will also offer “real-time feedback” on participants’ engagement during meetings, as well as coaching on their conversational and presentation skills. This feature may not be embraced by every user, especially those wary of Zoom’s intentions with AI. However, Zoom emphasizes that users have the option to deactivate real-time feedback and other AI Companion features at any time, either as account owners or administrators.

In another development, Zoom Team Chat users will soon have the ability to utilize the AI Companion to summarize chat threads, a feature previously available with Zoom IQ. By early 2024, users can expect to benefit from auto-complete chat sentences, a feature akin to Microsoft Teams’ and Google Meet’s AI-generated replies, as originally promised with Zoom IQ. Additionally, users will be able to schedule meetings directly from a chat thread.

In the realm of Zoom Whiteboard, the collaborative whiteboarding tool will receive a boost come spring 2024. The AI Companion will enable Whiteboard to generate images and populate templates, although the specifics of the image-generating model remain unclear. Presumably, the results will align with text-to-image tools such as OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 and MidJourney. Questions regarding content filters and bias mitigation measures, however, remain open.

In early fall, users of Zoom’s email client, Zoom Mail, can anticipate AI-generated email suggestions from the AI Companion, akin to the capabilities of Zoom IQ. By spring 2024, Zoom users will have the option to add meeting summaries to the platform’s note-taking app, Notes, and summarize text message threads and calls from Zoom’s VoIP service, Zoom Phone.

Most of the AI Companion features will reside in the Zoom app’s side panel, although they will be accessible only to paying Zoom customers once they go live.

Zoom Revenue Accelerator

In a second rebranding move, Zoom IQ for Sales, the sales assistant tool, is being transformed into Zoom Revenue Accelerator. Initial reception of Zoom IQ for Sales was lukewarm, with critics asserting that the sentiment analysis algorithms used were inherently flawed. Over two dozen rights groups even called on Zoom to abandon its attempts to explore what they deemed “inaccurate” and “under-tested” technology.

Rather than discontinuing Zoom IQ for Sales, Zoom shifted its focus from sentiment analysis to more conventional use cases. This transition appears to continue with the rebranded Zoom Revenue Accelerator.

Zoom has unveiled several new features slated for inclusion in Revenue Accelerator. Among them is a “virtual coach” designed to simulate conversations for onboarding and training sales team members. This virtual coach can evaluate salespeople’s performance in pitching products using various sales methodologies, mirroring other AI-powered sales training platforms available in the market.

Deal risk signals are also set to be incorporated into Revenue Accelerator, allowing sales team members to use a rules-based engine to trigger alerts if a deal stalls for an extended period. Another upcoming feature, “discover monthly,” will monitor how competitors are mentioned during calls and summarize trends on a per-month basis.