Moving Beyond Meetings: How Collaboration Platforms are Driving Innovation for Customer Experience – The Six Five Summit Sessions

Tune in for a replay of The Six Five Summit’s Collaboration CX ContactCenter Spotlight Keynote with Kentis Gopalla, Head of Ecosystem for Phone & Contact Center, Zoom. The way we work and communicate has shifted dramatically in the last two years. Zoom has been at the forefront, developing solutions to ensure people stay connected. And now, they are going one step further. In this session, Kentis sits down with Futurum’s Daniel Newman to explore how Zoom is moving beyond meetings and is creating new solutions to improve the customer experience.

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Daniel Newman: Kentis, welcome to the 2022 Six Five Summit. We are so excited to have you joining us here.

Kentis Gopalla: Great to be here, Daniel. I’m super excited to have this conversation today.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I’m really glad we were able to make this work. It’s such an important topic. The whole collaboration space has really become one of the underpinning technologies of the remote work trend that we’re all dealing with, the hybrid work story, the future of work story, and it started a lot with video. I think this is our third year of this Kentis and the first year was in the very beginning of the pandemic and collaboration and video was everything.

And then, over the next year we started seeing mobility pop up. And then in this last year, I think we’re heading to the wave of more normal. I say more normal because I’m very afraid to say we’re back to normal because COVID still happening and there’s still been some issues around the world of needing to shut down. But we are seeing people moving, we’re seeing airlines more full, we’re seeing hotels more full, it’s starting to feel… By the way, people are going back to work.

Kentis Gopalla: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: And so, where I’d love to start is right there, is Zoom was… By the way, very successful prior to the pandemic but it was jettisoned into the limelight as companies had to figure out how to act in the beginning of the pandemic. Now we’re on the other side of this thing, I’m just kind of curious, Zoom is more than just meetings but how are you telling the Zoom story to really help the market and the rest of the world see that?

Kentis Gopalla: Yeah. No, absolutely, Daniel. To your point, Zoom is more than just meetings. It’s a full platform. If you look at the product lines, we have a great UC platform with Zoom Phone and lastly, we recently introduced Zoom Contact Center as well. We’ll talk about this in a bit but if you go back to the premise of how we’ve been helping our customers, before the pandemic, nearly all companies had their employees working from the office at least four days a week or even five days a week. And then, the pandemic happened and companies started to plan or some of them have really shifted to combine remote working and onsite working. Meaning that the employees are now working in a hybrid or fully remote fashion and there’s a new set of challenges that come with that, right?

So that’s what we’ve been working on, working with our customers, listening to how we can help them drive that shift, working from a full remote or a hybrid approach. Now, when we talk to some of the customers, the love of simplicity, the ease of use, the intuitiveness of the Zoom meeting platform, and they started telling us, “We love the Zoom platform. Now, how can we use that same product, that same platform in the customer experience domain? How do we extend that to our contact center solution?” so that’s how we started building our own contact center solution on the same Zoom stack.

We are diversifying our portfolio. We’ve become a full platform into customer experience, into collaboration, and at the same time, we are making all the APIs available to build an ecosystem of partners. We get it. We know that customers will need to integrate with various applications to drive more efficiency for their workers and we have built a full platform with APIs available, with a marketplace for partners to build on top of our platform.

Daniel Newman: I’m glad you spoke about this shift and it’s happening, I talk about this continuum. Kentis, I talk about a continuum of sort of companies that are going to be 100% remote and then there’s companies that are going to go 100% back in office. Most are going to be somewhere on that continuum in between and it’s going to be a combination of talent driven, it’s going to be a combination of geographic, it’s going to be… Some companies considering type of roles. There’s some roles that you really can’t do remotely that really need to be… And then of course, how does… Culture, so all those sort of things.

But as you mentioned that, I was thinking to myself, you mentioned APIs, you mentioned connecting into other systems, this next wave of remote work is going to require that the solutions like those that you mentioned really are integrated into your everyday work experience. And so, every company in the space including Zoom has a different story of how that all happens. Some it’s monolithic, some companies it’s a series of integrations, I’d love to hear that from you and from Zoom, is how are you thinking about that? Because connecting into ERPs and CRMs and connecting into low code to build that, all those things that become really popular narratives in this whole collaboration story, what’s the Zoom story about how they’re going to build around that?

Kentis Gopalla: Yeah. No, absolutely. We know. Single apps, no longer have the flexibility and agility that will require you to adapt as employees are evolving in that journey, right? That’s why we are providing a platform so that from within that Zoom experience, the employees can launch several other applications. Let’s say a project manager needed to launch a project management tool within a chat session that they’re having with their colleagues. We want to make sure that experience is simple and easy to go across from one app to another. Some employees will need to use multiple apps but that collaboration and the communication needs to be persistent across.

Another example is also when you look at brainstorming, right? In the past, for people to brainstorm, they needed to be in a room, to get on a white board, start drafting new ideas. But with that shift happening, we have seen that brainstorming remotely has worked well with people doing brainstorming through online sessions. But now, you are shifting for some people are in an office, some are remote in different locations geographically, how do you bring all these people together?

That’s why we are also seeing the shift where with brainstorming and innovation, remote collaboration is becoming more synchronous, right? You come up with an ideas, people go and work on it asynchronously, and then they come back and share those ideas through the tools that we make available to them. So we are working with some companies to drive that shift as well, as in, how do we manage that hybrid workplace where you have certain group of people in the office and others are working remotely and how do you get them to work together as a team?

Daniel Newman: Yeah. I also think that’s critical that there’s a fluidity to work and some of that comes through those APIs and integrations, right? You’re scheduling a calendar meeting, making sure that you can have that Zoom pop right into your calendar invite even if you’re using a different calendaring platform. No matter what platform you’re using, and by the way, no matter what platform they’re using, whoever you’re trying to get into your meeting, making it synchronous and ubiquitous when required.

And then of course, things like chat being there to enable people to work asynchronously which is definitely a feature that you’ve worked on building out. But creating something that’s utilized across organizations, that’s going to be key and enabling, like I said, customers, ecosystems, partners, channels up and down the line that everybody can chat in a single platform and stay connected, get the alerts they want to get and not the ones they don’t, and be able to keep work fluid. I think that’s part of the customer experience narrative. You used that term, Kentis, early on, you talked about customer experience, you mentioned context, what does that mean? What is Zoom extending its customer experience story mean?

Kentis Gopalla: Yeah. If you look at the enterprises, we have a full UC platform called Zoom Phone where we have over 3 million users globally on that platform. So when we were working with some of those customers, they started telling us our current contact center solution is not extensible, it’s on premise, we are facing a lot of challenges, it’s not easy to use, it’s difficult to maintain. Their contact center platforms were really aging and having used Zoom phone and Zoom meetings, they started to think, “Can we bring that simplicity, ease of use, a cloud solution for our customer experience solution for customers to contact us easily, to make it easy for our employees, our contact center agents to work remotely as well?” If you look at those traditional contact center solutions that are in the market, when the whole shift happened, it was very difficult for some of them to have agents working from home.

They didn’t have the right tools even when working from home. So if you think, traditionally, in a contact center, if an agent was having an issue with resolving a customer problem, they would just put up the hand and the supervisor would walk over, come to that agent, and help them out. Now, that agent is working from home, now, how do we get help? So what we’ve done is to bring all these capabilities that we have in unified communication into the contact center. We’ve launched Zoom Contact Center which is a full omnichannel cloud solution. When we launch at the end of February, we launched with two channels that we supported voice and video for the contact center. So that callers could contact an enterprise through a phone number but also if they were to go on their website and start a video session to the contact center, right? So we launched with those two channels and then last month we had two additional channel which are chat and SMS. So somebody could go on a website, start a chat session, and be connected to a live agent in the enterprise.

Now for the agents, what we’ve done is to bring that simplicity and ease of use. So the same Zoom application that everybody has been using and is so familiar with that intuitiveness and ease of use, we are bringing that same application for the contact center agent so that is easy for them to use. Now, coming back to the scenario where the agent needed help and talk to a supervisor, we’ve provided all the tools, collaboration tools and presence required so that the agent can see, is there an expert available in the back office, in a different department, let’s say in finance, and they could collaborate with that person who may not be an agent but who is an expert in a different domain and bring that expertise to resolve an issue. So that’s how we are bringing first contact resolution, is a term that is very familiar in the `contact center space, so we are driving a lot of the first contact resolution, these high touch scenarios with Zoom Contact Center.

Daniel Newman: Obviously, CX and contact center are symbiotic but CX is not merely contact center.

Kentis Gopalla: Absolutely.

Daniel Newman: Where I love to take these conversations as we come to the end is always future forward, okay? You’ve made Zoom much more extensible. In the early days, it was a point to point. You’ve added things like chat, events, contact center, where does it go from here? How comprehensive do you see? And of course, there’s probably things you can and can’t share. So within the constraints of what you can share, how far can you take this? Where do you think it needs to go in order to be optimal, to win customers, to win more “workloads” that are going to be Zoom revenue expansion, stickiness, more dollars per customer, because I think that’s what… The customers want simplicity, they want to work, they like Zoom for it, simplicity. If you can build other things to be that way, they’re going to invest so long way of getting to a really simple question. Where does it go from here?

Kentis Gopalla: Yeah. I think you’re going to see we are going to continue to invest in areas where we can improve collaboration, we’re going to improve communication. Zoom would eventually become the platform of communication and collaboration. Now, when you look at what does that mean for an enterprise, that could be customer experience, it could be the employee engagement, or how to improve business efficiency of all. We will provide the tools that are available.

If you look at customer experience, just by itself, we launched contact center with voice and video and then we started looking at, “Okay, how about digital channels?” We completed the acquisition of a company called Solvi that provides digital channels with online chat and so on for enterprises. As we get into that space, you’re going to see us investing more on how we drive better customer experience in those areas.

Now, when we look at for the employees itself, when you look at contact centers, we are partnering, we will be partnering with a number of vendors in the areas of workforce management or CRM applications. But also, you look at, “How do we drive more AI into collaboration and communication?” We’ve acquired companies in the past with those AI capabilities so you’ll start seeing those technologies with AI that will infuse into our core products that will drive better communication, drive efficiency for employees as well.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. I love that. I could probably go off on my own little diatribe but I love that you mentioned intelligence and AI. I think there has to be ways to do things like latency free translation, two people speaking different languages seamlessly, and I know that can be done at the edge on devices. It’s a little more complex when you put it in the cloud and have to process that data. Obviously, it isn’t working fluently at the edge yet either but I’ve seen it, I know it can be done.

Also, taking data from meetings, helping companies with process mining, workflow automation, integrating things into CRMs and business intelligence platforms. I always say, sales professionals, how much time do they spend in meetings and then have to go back into a CRM system or enter data into some sort of spreadsheet somewhere, if we can automate some of that… I’m not saying you’re going to tackle all that but I’m saying, if I’m reading the tea leaves, Kentis, you’re thinking about these problems and hopefully you’re looking at all these different kinds of roles and personnel and how these things can be made easier using data intelligence and work streams.

Kentis Gopalla: Absolutely. To your point, I’m glad you brought that up, Daniel. We’ve also launched Zoom IQ which is our AI capabilities for the sales folks. So exactly to that point is to look at a conversation and provide guidance on what could have been better, to look at sentiment analysis, post call recording, and so on. And then slowly, we’re going to take those same capabilities and bring into real time to drive more efficiency for the employees.

The other area that you mentioned as well, I’m glad you brought this up, something that we will be… We have on our roadmap is to be able to do translation. A lot of us have been playing on this internally at Zoom. You could be speaking in English, I could be responding in French, and then you could have real time translation in a conversation. Again, it is to look at… Our mission is really to how do we foster collaboration? We could be a team in the US here working with a team in Japan and how do you foster that collaboration and bring simplicity in communicating with this real time translation? Another feature that we’ve announced as well is our white board capabilities. Similarly, a lot of people prefer visual collaboration, providing them with those tools to get them to work better.

Daniel Newman: Absolutely. Well, you hit a bunch of things. There’s iteration, there’s innovation, there’s advancement, ton of competition. By the way, as an analyst, I love that because innovation spurs innovation. I say it probably on at least 10% of these videos. I’ve said that statement like, “The more competition in a field, the more it pushes all of you to be great and to continue to build, develop, and push the envelope.” That’s what our listeners out there all want, is technology that pushes their businesses and their lives forward. Kentis, I want to thank you so much for joining me here at the 2022 Six Five Summit, love to have you back on the show sometime. Got to say goodbye. We’ll see you later.

Kentis Gopalla: All right. Thank you, Daniel. Thank you so much.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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