TechBytes with Nitasha Walia, Sr. Product Manager, Zoom
Sr. Product Manager at Zoom
Zoom’s App Marketplace brings together integrations built by Zoom and their 3rd-party developers and includes apps for a multitude of industry verticals including Assistants, Productivity, Scheduling, and Unified Log-In. We spoke to Nitasha Walia, Sr.Product Manager at Zoom, to understand the core tents of the marketplace and how customers should better leverage it for smoother business operations.
Tell us about your role at Zoom and the team/technology you handle.
I’m a Senior Product Manager at Zoom Video Communications. I manage our core product, Zoom Meetings, and also our Zoom Video Webinar offering. I work with the engineering teams to develop these products, with customers to understand their requirements and priorities, and with our Sales and Marketing teams to help support their go-to-market efforts.
What are your predictions on the “State of Videos for Businesses”?
I believe that video meetings will become the worldwide communications standard as they begin providing “smart” features that dramatically improve meeting productivity and the user’s experience. AI-based features such as voice-to-text transcription will take meeting notes, virtual personal assistants will record tasks and help set up meetings, and voice recognition will identify who is speaking. Together, these features will make video meetings superior to in-person meetings.
Facial recognition will be used in video conference rooms for a variety of purposes. It will recognize who is in the room and will be paired with technologies that provide other insights such as the participant’s title and company affiliation. Insights into who has used the conference room, when, and for what purpose will also help IT and Facilities staff better plan space allocation and usage.
How did you prepare for the massive expansion of your communications platform? (e.g. adding voice)
Voice is a feature of our overall communications platform, so while it provides new, robust capabilities, it did not require a massive expansion of our resources. However, we did add some talent, including product management and marketing staff that specialize in voice. And, of course, we prepared for the introduction of the product in other ways. In particular, we worked with our customers to gauge their needs and then developed the product roadmap with that information in mind.
What differentiates Zoom Voice from other telephony products in the market?
Zoom Voice is a cloud phone system solution that will be available as an add-on to Zoom’s video communications suite. Support for inbound and outbound calling through the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and seamlessly integrated traditional telephony features will allow customers to replace their existing PBX solution and consolidate all of their business communication and collaboration requirements into their favorite video service.
Zoom Voice differs from many telephony products because it’s a cloud phone system. More importantly, Zoom Voice is different from all other telephony products because it allows users to seamlessly shift from one Zoom communications mode to another — chat, voice, and video — all while on the go. For example, a user might begin communicating with a co-worker using Zoom Chat. They may then ‘escalate’ their interaction to a Zoom Voice Call as one of them boards a train. Then, when both are in their office again, they may shift to a Zoom Video Call in order to share screens or documents. With the introduction of Zoom Voice to the Zoom product suite, users can now select any communications mode that suits their needs and segue from one to the other effortlessly.
What are the core tenets of Zoom’s App Marketplace? How should customers better leverage this marketplace for smoother business operations?
Zoom’s App Marketplace brings together integrations built by Zoom and our 3rd-party developers and includes apps for a multitude of industry verticals including Assistants, Productivity, Scheduling, and Unified Log-In.
Customers can get the most out of Zoom and the marketplace by selecting apps from the areas they think will most benefit them while they are using Zoom. For example, an executive assistant would benefit from selecting apps related to scheduling, to help them organize meetings for all of the executives they assist. Zoom’s marketplace is fully vetted by Zoom for security and user experience.
Why should businesses look for in workplace video communications? How could it improve overall productivity and direct revenue?
Organizations should look for video communications tools that help them increase collaboration among all teams — both near and far — that allow the maximum amount of interactivity for a wide range of scenarios, from internal to external and from one-on-one meetings to all-hands events. Above all, video communications tools need to be easy-to-use, affordable, and accessible — if they aren’t, employees won’t use them.
Video communications can dramatically improve productivity by increasing trust. In fact, a recent Zoom survey of more than 700 users found that 82 percent of respondents said they experienced greater trust with video and that the medium helped increase accountability and decrease multitasking.
To what extent do your new products work with automation and AI/ML technologies?
Zoom Audio Processing, which we just announced, has been moved from hardware devices to our Zoom Rooms software. As a software feature, audio processing can provide iterative audio enhancements using Machine Learning. With Zoom Audio Processing, each microphone’s audio stream is received individually and mixed in real-time to enhance the active speaker’s audio with echo cancellation and noise suppression.
We also announced some features last year that employ AI and augmented reality. Our AI-based, automated, free feature — Recording Transcripts — converts all the speech from a recording into text and even identifies each speaker. It allows users to search the resulting transcript for keywords, then jump to that keyword in the cloud video recording playback.
On the augmented reality front, last year, Zoom developed an integration with augmented reality provider Meta. Its immersive AR technology allows 3D models to be shared and manipulated as holograms in real time on the Zoom platform.
We are also exploring and working on numerous other technologies involving AI right now, but I’m not at liberty to discuss them. Stay tuned!
How do you plan to further expand the capabilities of video communications suite in 2018-2022?
Video is in our DNA. We get high marks (our NPS is 71) from our customers for Zoom’s ease-of-use, reliability, versatility, and scalability, but we’re not resting on our laurels and are continually working to improve the user experience.
We’re growing both our software and hardware ecosystems. In fact, we just announced Zoom’s App Marketplace, which brings together integrations built by Zoom and by our 3rd-party developers, making it easy for customers and developers to extend Zoom’s product portfolio with new functionalities. The marketplace includes a multitude of industry verticals including Assistants, Productivity, Scheduling, and Unified Log-In.
On the hardware front, we just announced several enhancements to Zoom Rooms, our software-based conference room solution that features video, audio, and wireless content sharing, digital signage and scheduling displays. In addition to the Software Audio Processing feature I mentioned previously, we’ve also just announced:
- New Hardware Device Partnerships: AVer, Crestron, Dell, DTEN, HP, Logitech, Polycom, and Suirui have created devices with native Zoom Rooms integrations, making it easier for customers to deploy and manage their Zoom Rooms hardware by reducing the number of components needed.
- Zoom Rooms Multi-Share: Multiple users in a Zoom Room can now simultaneously share content on displays, making for a richer, more seamless collaboration experience.
- Enterprise Management: We have released enhancements that will help IT managers better mass deploy, troubleshoot, and proactively monitor their Zoom Rooms.
- Zoom Rooms Meeting Start on Mobile: With proximity detection, users will be able to start a Zoom Rooms meeting by clicking a button on their Zoom mobile app.
- Digital Signage Enhancements: Digital Signage administrators now have more control over how they deliver content, with the ability to schedule content in advance and upload video files directly to their content library (supports .mp4, .wmv, .avi, and .mov files).
Thanks for chatting with us, Nitasha.
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