Zoom Improves Collaboration Capabilities, Dropbox Improves Workflows, More News
Following the many workplace announcements coming out of the Microsoft, Google, Cisco and Meta conferences last month, this week saw Zoom taking its turn to share its workplace vision for the year ahead.
The San Jose, Calif.-based Zoom has been capitalizing on its pandemic popularity over the last few years to expands its enterprise reach with the release of all kinds of new tools. Contact center tools were one big part of that, but it has also been working to improve its digital workplace offerings with conferencing upgrades, new collaboration capabilities and even moves in the telephony market.
This year’s Zoomtopia conference kept up the momentum with a number of releases designed to improve the platform's collaboration capabilities. It also offered hybrid conferencing through Zoom Events, while the new Zoom Spots will offer virtual co-working spaces that will improve engagement by offering better connections between workers.
Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan outlined the underlying theme of the conference in this way: "Zoom is purpose-built to make all kinds of connections possible, effective, and meaningful. Our team has built and launched more than 1,500 features and enhancements on the Zoom platform this year, advancing the way people connect with each other, their organization, and their customers — ultimately opening the doors wide for creativity and collaboration."
Several releases are at the heart of this. Among them are:
1. Zoom Mail and Calendar Clients (beta)
If there is one single release that underline Zoom’s growing digital workplace ambitions, this is it. The Zoom Mail and Calendar Clients allow customers to integrate email and calendar services into Zoom, which means Zoom users will not have to leave the platform to carry out key workplace tasks that are managed through calendars and email.
However, that is not all. It is also offering Zoom-hosted email and calendar service options that will be integrated into the platform. This will offer end-to-end encryption for email between active Zoom Mail Service users.
The services are currently only available in the U.S. and Canada in beta. However, once these are generally available, users will not have to use the email services of third-party vendors like Google or Microsoft. The question is whether those users will opt in or not.
2. Zoom Spots
Zoom Spots provides a video-enabled space that will be integrated with the Zoom platform. According to Zoom, this is designed to enable effective work between teams and individuals in the physical workplace, remotely or a combination of the two. This is not yet available, but is due to be released in early 2023.
3. Zoom One
Released in June this year, Zoom One is an offering that brings together persistent chat, phone, meetings, whiteboard, and more into secure and scalable packages. At Zoomtopia, Zoom announced that it is extending those capabilities to integrate Chat and In-Meeting Chat so users move between Chat and Meetings seamlessly.
There was other news too. To extend its reach across organizations, the company is also updating the Zoom Developer Platform to make it easier for developers to provision and manage apps that work with Zoom.
It also announced that Zoom Apps — in-product apps seamlessly integrated into the Zoom Meeting and Webinar experience — is expanding across the platform to Team Chat and Zoom Rooms.
And in a final — and mildly surreal — announcement, can popcorn improve workplace meetings? Zoom announced that soon businesses will be able to book AMC movie theaters in 17 major markets to host their next meeting on a big screen. Coming soon to a theater (maybe) near you.
Zoom Integrates with ServiceNow's Employee Center
A large number of vendor integrations were also announced at Zoomtopia. One of the most interesting of those is the new integration with Santa Clara, Calif.-based ServiceNow’s Employee Center.
The ServiceNow Employee Center is a unified portal for employees to find personalized information, access applications, complete tasks, get help and request services across departments.
Sancho Pinto, senior director of product management for employee experience for ServiceNow explained to Reworked that the portal improves employee productivity by reducing the time it takes to look for help with AI-powered search. It also reduces application fatigue by integrating information and applications, and keeps employees informed and engaged with personalized, actionable communications was well as serving as a service portal for employees to submit requests and tickets for tasks
The integration with the Zoom expanded platform and enhanced Zoom Team Chat will make it possible for employees to access Employee Center directly from within Zoom. "Combining the Now Platform with Zoom’s communication and collaboration capabilities gives employees and agent’s access to the information they need to work more effectively without switching from solution to solution, improving experiences and increasing productivity," Pinto said.
While the advantages for Zoom are clear, it also helps ServiceNow continue its expansion into the workplace.
“We know employees are on different collaboration platforms so it’s important for ServiceNow to be integrated with all the enterprise solutions and legacy systems,” Pinto added.
ServiceNow and Zoom announced their first partnership in July 2020 when they made a joint commitment to each other’s technology solutions to make work-anywhere experiences work even better.
They will continue work together in the coming months so expect more from this soon.
Dropbox Upgrades for Better Workflows
One of the major obstacles facing organizations at the moment is app sprawl: the growing number apps used to complete tasks in the digital workplace. App sprawl is impeding the development, running and management of workplaces.
In response, San Francisco-based Dropbox has announced a number of updates as well as a new tool that the company hopes will help users better manage this problem and speed up work.
So how big is the problem? Citing research from Okta, Dropbox stated that businesses are using an average of 89 apps to get work done and that key among those apps are ones that enable video communication.
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Three major upgrades will help solve this problem according to the company: Dropbox Capture, HelloSign and Dropbox DocSend.
1. Dropbox Capture
Dropbox Capture is designed to tackle the problem that many workers experience with video calls and meetings. Dropbox Capture was launched in beta last year and is now available to all users across all plans.
Users can now record videos in 4K up to the storage limit of the plan they are on and allows them to edit videos of any length. Basic, Plus and Family plans include up to two hours of recording time at 1080p, and editing for videos under five minutes.
With Capture, workers can communicate with each other asynchronously via video messages. As well as video, Capture offers visual aids like screen recording and presentations enabling workers to give a demo or send a message without having to schedule a video call.
Since the beta launched, Dropbox has also added video trimming, transcribing, commenting and screenshot markup as well as the ability to track who has viewed videos.
2. Workflow Improvements
There is also some major additions to Dropbox tools that are designed to make workflows easier to create and manage.
The company is rebranding HelloSign as Dropbox Sign to make it easier for people and teams to use the full suite of Dropbox tools. The company also explained that HelloSign API, HelloWorks and HelloFax are similarly rebranding to Dropbox Sign API, Dropbox Forms and Dropbox Fax.
With this upgrade, all Dropbox Sign plans, including the free plan, will provide users unlimited self-signing while Dropbox Forms will also be included in some Dropbox Sign plans, notably Paid Standard and Premium, which allows for up to 50 form exchanges per month.
3. DocSend’s Advanced Video Analytics
Finally, Dropbox has added video file support to DocSend, Dropbox’s document sharing tool that comes with real-time control and insights.
The result is that users will be able to share videos and, using the analytics feature, will have access to data like who has watched the video, how long it was watched, play back completion rates and more.
Combined, the upgrades and releases bring together content and workflows and help users better manage the app sprawl in the digital workplace. Individually they offer small advantages, but combined they give the users better control over how content is being used and by who. They also make digital work easier and Dropbox a lot more attractive for organizations trying to streamline their workplaces.
Frontline Success Platform Beekeeper Lands $50M in Funding
Finally this week, San Francisco-based Beekeeper has announced that it has raised $50 million in Series C funding.
Beekeeper‘s mobile platform acts as a single point of contact for organizations’ frontline workforce. It puts all communications and tools in one place, making it possible for non-desk employees to communicate without the need to exchange phone numbers or email addresses.
It targets the estimated 80% of the global deskless workforce who do not work from a fixed office-based location.
In a statement, Cristian Grossmann, co-founder and CEO, Beekeeper pointed out that the disconnect between employers and their frontline employees is at an all-time high, causing staff shortages and burnout that comes at a hefty price.
Founded in 2011 in Switzerland, Beekeeper’s $50 million Series C round brings the company’s total funding to more than $146 million and it now has a staff 200 in the United States and Europe, according to Crunchbase. The funding comes shortly after a number of platform updates aimed at improving onboarding, security, referrals and its main interface, the Frontline Workspace.