Ep 237: Zoom Exec Tells How AI is Changing Real-Time Collaboration

Transforming Real-Time Collaboration with AI: Insights from Zoom CPO

In a recent episode of the Everyday AI podcast, the discussion revolved around the changing landscape of real-time collaboration, especially in light of the growing influence of generative AI. The featured guest, a leading expert in the field, shared valuable insights into the ways in which real-time communication and collaboration have evolved over the years. From the early days of video calls to the present, where AI-powered features are revolutionizing productivity, the conversation shed light on the remarkable transformation of real-time collaboration.

Unveiling the Power of AI in Workplace Collaboration

The podcast delved into the introduction of new AI-powered features designed to enhance workplace collaboration. The discussion indicated that the integration of generative AI into collaboration platforms is reshaping the way businesses operate. The implementation of AI-driven functionalities such as meeting summarization, note taking, next-step generation, and whiteboard creation is poised to streamline and augment the collaborative process, significantly improving overall productivity.

The Impact of Zoom's AI Companion

One of the critical highlights of the episode is the introduction of Zoom AI Companion, an innovative tool that leverages AI to provide users with unprecedented levels of efficiency and productivity. By empowering employees to delegate routine tasks to AI, such as meeting summarization and chat thread summaries, businesses can address the challenge of information overload and enable their teams to focus on higher-impact activities.

The Future of Real-Time Collaboration with AI

Looking ahead, the podcast explored the potential future developments in real-time collaboration with AI. The anticipation of rapid evolution and deployment of AI capabilities, coupled with a focus on enhancing security, cost-effectiveness, and usability, sets the stage for a paradigm shift in workplace collaboration. The integration of AI in the form of digital assistants and the utilization of multimodal capabilities for data consolidation and content creation are poised to take real-time collaboration to unprecedented heights, enhancing the total employee experience.

Embracing AI-Powered Collaboration for Business Success

As business leaders, decision-makers, and individuals seeking to maximize productivity and efficiency, the insights from the podcast shed light on the importance of embracing AI-powered collaboration tools. The transformative potential of AI in workplace communication and productivity presents an opportunity to stay ahead in today's rapidly evolving business landscape.

The episode acts as a compelling narrative of the evolving intersection of AI and real-time collaboration, presenting a vision of a future where AI-driven features play a pivotal role in empowering teams, streamlining operations, and fostering seamless communication and collaboration. As the podcast demonstrated, integrating AI into real-time collaboration is not just about adopting cutting-edge technology but about redefining the way businesses work and collaborate in the digital age.

Overall, the insights presented in the podcast act as a clarion call for businesses to lean into the wave of AI-powered collaboration, harnessing its transformative potential to drive success and achieve sustainable growth in an increasingly competitive and dynamic marketplace.

Topics Covered in This Episode

1. Importance of Real-Time Collaboration
2. Zoom Enterprise Connect event
3.  New Zoom Workplace Features and AI Integration
4. Future of Real-Time Collaboration and AI

Podcast Transcript

Jordan Wilson [00:00:16]:
If you want to have a successful business in the age of generative AI, you have to be able to work and collaborate in real time. Not just the pandemic has has changed how we work and, you know, hybrid and and and remote working in in office. It's it's something different every day. So it it isn't just, kind of post pandemic work life that has changed how we collaborate in real time. But, obviously, the the advent of of just different generative AI tools, it is changing the way that business gets done. And if you want to stay ahead, you have to keep up. Alright. We're gonna be talking about about that to today and more on everyday AI.

Jordan Wilson [00:00:57]:
Thank you for joining us. If you're joining us live, thanks as always. Make sure to check out the show notes. If you're joining us on the podcast as well, we're gonna get a little visual in this one, but not too much. And as always, a lot more information on the podcast as well as our daily newsletter. So we're gonna be talking a lot today. I'm actually excited. We have the chief product officer from Zoom, and we're gonna be going over, some new Zoom announcements.

Jordan Wilson [00:01:20]:
So you're not gonna wanna miss those. We're gonna have a lot more in our newsletter at your everydayai.com. I tell people it is a free generative AI university. More than now 230 episodes. No matter what you wanna learn about, we've talked to experts in those fields, and we will have the daily news. Technically, this is prerecorded by a couple hours. You know, we're talking to people from all over the country. A very busy day today, but let's go ahead and talk about how AI can change real time collaboration.

Jordan Wilson [00:01:51]:
There we go. Joining us, we have Smita Hashim, who is the chief product officer from Zoom. Smita, thank you so much for joining the Everyday AI Show.

Smita Hashim [00:02:00]:
Thank you for having me, Jordan. I'm really excited to be here.

Jordan Wilson [00:02:04]:
Alright. And, hey, if if you are joining this live, you can see that Samita's in in, an event right now. So right now we are in the midst of of Zoom Enterprise Connect. Right? Like, Samita, can you tell us a little bit about, first your role, but then we'll get, we'll get a little bit more into what's going on right behind you. So tell us a little bit about what you do at the chief product officer at Zoom.

Smita Hashim [00:02:26]:
Miss Jordan, so I am, as you said, the chief product officer at Zoom, which means I'm responsible for the entire product portfolio and strategy. And I'm sure you are familiar, and many of your audience is familiar with Zoom, Zoom meetings, Zoom chat, Zoom phone, Zoom contact center. So I own that entire product portfolio and and, you know, and I consider it really a privilege to be here at Zoom building these products which users love. So so that's my role. I love video. I love video communication, so I feel like it's a dream job for me. And then, for for me, where I'm at, I'm at Enterprise Connect right now. It is a huge show on unified communications and as well as customer communications, so UCaaS plus CCaaS.

Smita Hashim [00:03:16]:
I'm on the trade show floor. There's a big Zoom booth behind me with a lot of attendees, and yes, there's a lot of excitement going on.

Jordan Wilson [00:03:23]:
All right. So I can't, I can't wait to talk about some of those new announcements. They are fresh, from Zoom, the Zoom workplace, but pun intended, I first wanna zoom out right before we get into all the new, excitement. We gotta keep you, you're listening and watching till the end. Right? But, Samita, can you share a little bit about your background? Because it's extremely impressive. Right? You know, because a lot of times I like to tell people, you know, we don't just push a single product, you know, a single service on this show, but even your background, when it comes to real time collaboration is extremely impressive. Tell us a little bit about your your background and where you've worked before Zoom.

Smita Hashim [00:04:01]:
Yeah. Absolutely. So before Zoom, I was at Microsoft for some time where I was responsible for real time communications aspects of Microsoft Teams. Before that, I spent a lot of time at Google working on many different products, but I was responsible for Google Meet during the pandemic search and Google Voice and Google Calendar and the Meet hardware. So many products over there. I have worked on many other products too from, like, devices to to, you know, to, like, very metrics driven products. I did a PhD in video compression way back. So, you know, so video has been video communications, connecting people, flexible work, That has been something which which I'm super passionate about, and, you know, and that's my history.

Smita Hashim [00:04:50]:
So yes. So and Zoom to me is special, special because Zoom has truly transformed flexible work, not and not just for the employees, but also for customer facing agents. So I feel like as a world, we work differently now, and Zoom to me has the biggest portfolio, the best quality, and really embodies customer care and speed of innovation.

Jordan Wilson [00:05:13]:
Yeah. And and, speed up, like even just what you said there, if if if you are working in any hybrid or remote capacity, You you you probably use the all the tools that that that you just mentioned, right, between Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meets. So I'm I'm curious. Right? So you've been working in this space for way more than a decade. How have you even seen real time collaboration change throughout the last 10 or 15 years?

Smita Hashim [00:05:43]:
Yeah. I feel like, I actually, to me, it is incredible where we are in terms of real time communication and collaboration. If you so so if you think I mean, commune video communication are all of us used phones for a long time. We used emails. Right? And then we started moving to chat based product. Video started coming in. And there there was already traction on these technologies and moving to unified communication. If you remember the old days, you'd walk into the airport and you would see the Zoom ads, we'd say meet happy.

Smita Hashim [00:06:19]:
Right? So things were transforming and they were changing. But then we went through the pandemic. And I would say, I mean, it was a very, very hard time for so many of us. But to me, the gift of pandemic is the normalization of flexible work and helping all of us connect in ways that is more flexible. So, you know, so we have gone through that phase. I feel like flexible work is really what most of the world is doing right now. Even if companies are bringing you back in office, you are still some some of your employ some of your colleagues are going to be remote. Your partners are remote.

Smita Hashim [00:06:55]:
Your your customers, you're connecting with them. So I feel like this normalization of flexible work is an amazing opportunity, but it's also a huge challenge for all of us to get this right and make sure we do it in effective ways.

Jordan Wilson [00:07:08]:
You know, I remember, you you know, being on my first, you know, probably Zoom call, like, I don't know, 8 8 years ago. And at the time, it it was almost like this this cutting edge. Right? Like like this brand new thing, and and you had to walk, you know, walk people over, but now it's just a verb. Right? But I'm wondering even even through your personal experience having worked on, you know, 3 of the biggest video calling projects, or or 3 of the biggest, video collaboration tools ever. Right? Can you walk me through even what was it like for you early on, maybe 8, 10, 12 years ago when you were doing some of your first video calls for business? I wanna talk about what that was like for you as you've built these products for so long.

Smita Hashim [00:07:57]:
I I feel like, yeah, I I think, way, way back, I actually remember and this is I'm dating myself when we had very poor quality Internet connections. I remember the days of the dial up modems. Video did not work in those days at all. It was such a novelty. And then as video started scaling up and started becoming more mainstream, I think there were challenges around, like, how many people could get on a call at the same time? What was the quality of the call? Did it really work on every single device? Could I just get into it and get out of it? It felt like it was there, but it was not there. You know, it was you couldn't really count on it all the time. I think that is what has shifted is that I think Zoom came and changed the game. Zoom made the quality amazing.

Smita Hashim [00:08:47]:
And Zoom does it because they go deep on every like, whether you are on a MacBook or a Windows laptop or a mobile phone, they go deep and they make the quality really, really good. And then the infrastructure and the connectivity has expanded. So, I mean, it's like a dial tone. Video better work, and I feel like some companies provide a better dial tone than others. But but, you know, but that is where we are at right now. And it's pretty it's pretty amazing when you think about it, where things have come.

Jordan Wilson [00:09:18]:
Yeah. And even, you know, not just, you know, what you mentioned. Yes. Like Internet speeds, you know, video call quality now makes it feel much more collaborative. But even, you know, if you look at pre generative AI versus post generative AI. I know even for myself personally, I'm a former journalist. So, you know, 5, 8 years ago, in those rare occurrences when I was on a video call, I would be typing, you know, typing the notes. I would try to record it, but it was so hard back then.

Jordan Wilson [00:09:48]:
Right? Like, the processor couldn't keep up. It might crash. But at least for me, I felt that sometimes before generative AI, a video call was actually more cumbersome, than in person. Now I think it's the opposite. What what was your take even on, like, pre generative AI and how generative AI is is changing, you you know, video calls and real time collaboration in general?

Smita Hashim [00:10:12]:
Yeah. Absolutely. So generative AI, I feel like it's generative AI has the potent it has to be we all have to be thoughtful, and we have to cut across the hype, and we have to make it real. But it is really it can really transform the routine, the mundane, where you spend a lot of, like, our mind share and cycles. Imagine if we had an amazing notetaker that could accompany us to every meeting, and you could just focus on the conversation. Those are the kind of possibilities generative AI can provide. And those are the possibilities that we are make we have made real in the last, like, few months. We launched Zoom AI companion, and we have made that available not just for meetings, but across a variety of other products.

Smita Hashim [00:10:56]:
So I think that is the true potential of generative AI is that it can help users reclaim time, be a lot more efficient, and then what it does is it opens your mind up. It opens your space up for creativity, for collaboration, so we can all do, like, more meaningful work, get more business impact. I think that is where the power lies in these in these, in these kind of, like, new exciting changes that are coming in.

Jordan Wilson [00:11:24]:
Alright. Speaking of new excited changes, I I think I made everyone wait long enough. So so let's let's talk about what we have going on, there at Enterprise Connect. So, if you're joining live, I I have the announcement up on the screen. But but but, Sumida, maybe if you could walk us through what has been announced, at Zoom Enterprise, with the new Zoom Workplace.

Smita Hashim [00:11:47]:
Absolutely. So, Jordan, Zoom has gone so far beyond meetings. Customers love Zoom, and they've been asking us to do more. So we have meetings. We have phone. We have chat. We have the communication products, and we have been adding products which help you with productivity, like whiteboard, notes, clips. We announced Zoom Docs.

Smita Hashim [00:12:09]:
We acquired what we were for employee engagement. So, you know, so how can you keep a flexible distributed team, work styles really engaged, and amazing products for in office. When you're coming into office, you're collaborating with people in the office as well as outside the office. Workspace reservations, amazing conference rooms with AI built in, visitor management. So we are putting all of these together into Zoom Workplace. So that is a big announcement. So Zoom Workplace is you is here for you as your AI powered collaboration platform. AI is built into all parts of Zoom Workplace, and we want every customer, every user to benefit from it.

Smita Hashim [00:12:51]:
Zoom AI companion is a generative AI assistant. It is included at no additional cost. This is this is a radical move, which we did. We did that because we want everyone to have that productivity boost. So Zoom AI companion is going to be available across. So that's a big announcement. Zoom Workplace, it's about really reimagining teamwork with this modern AI powered collaboration platform that just works, and it innovates really fast.

Jordan Wilson [00:13:22]:
Okay. A lot a lot to unpack there. Right? A lot to unpack there. Right. I essentially just heard like, like a handful of even just, just new products. So showing here on the screen. So we, now we have a, a whiteboard, functionality, all real time, docs, as well as the AI companion. So, I'm I'm sharing on my screen now from the, announcement blog post, this kind of whiteboard, feature and functionality, which I think is huge for real time collaboration.

Jordan Wilson [00:13:52]:
I think sometimes, you know, you can talk about it, you know, all you want. But if it's just 8 people talking, that can be hard. So, Smrita, can you walk us through even just, you know, as an example, some of these other features specifically, you know, kind of this this whiteboarding and the, the the docs collaboration?

Smita Hashim [00:14:08]:
Yeah. So, I mean, whiteboarding, we have you know, whiteboarding is is our whiteboard product. We have had that. Docs is is Docs is coming later in summer. It is really an AI powered, very modular platform. But what is really exciting about all of these products is, 1, is the quality and they just work. But second, they are they are all elevated with Zoom AI companion. So let me tell you more about Zoom AI companion.

Smita Hashim [00:14:36]:
You know, Zoom AI companion, within meetings, we talked about it. Zoom AI companion is there. It can summarize meetings. It can it can get you next steps and really high quality next steps. So, actually, our seat our CEO just published a blog today, which is showing how Zoom AI companion for our popular features is beating the quality of GPT 4. Let me repeat that. It is beating the quality of GPT 4, and we included at no additional cost. That is because of the innovations we do.

Smita Hashim [00:15:11]:
When you think of other products like Zoom team chat, you can compose chats, you can summarize those threads. So if I'm like, I'm very busy right now as you can imagine, but for me, it's super easy to catch up on the chats that I missed. I can just go and summarize them, and I can catch up in minutes at the end of the day. Saves me so much time. If I'm in Zoom whiteboard, then I can create a whiteboard just calling Zoom AI companion. The big new announcements which we are adding because we continue to innovate an AI companion, it's coming to Zoom phone. So when you get all those voice mails and I bet, Jordan, sometimes you get a lot of them, is that it prioritizes those for you. It extracts tasks for you.

Smita Hashim [00:15:53]:
And then we are also broadening AI companion to come across the entire platform. So it can work across your meetings, chat, phone. It can do things like, hey. Prepare for my customer meeting. It'll extract all of that information. Just prepare you. So, you know, so this is a quick summary of all of the things that we are launching. We move fast.

Smita Hashim [00:16:14]:
We have 40 new features as part of this launch, but I'll focus on the AI ones first for the everyday AI audience.

Jordan Wilson [00:16:22]:
There we go. And and and, Smedes, one other thing, you know, so even on this, this blog post here, it's talking that 80% of global workers, experience information overload. So, you know, even even for us, right? Like I'm excited to use this now. I was just on, a, a zoom call, you know, 10 minutes before we jumped on, to to to record, this livestream and and this podcast. And I'll I'll even say it right now. I I haven't been using all of Zoom's AI features. So I'm excited about these new announcements now, but I would have to use, you know, a third party AI assistant, and then I might have an automation, you know, that would take the transcript from there and send it somewhere else. So can you talk a little bit now about how all of these things, kind of coming together in the workplace can maybe help combat that stat that we're talking about there, that 80% of global workers experience information overload?

Smita Hashim [00:17:17]:
Yeah. I mean, Jordan, really, I would say I'm so excited about flexible work, but I also feel like it's a very challenging time for workers. They crave connection. And, you know, and they're trying to connect to so many different ways, and there's such an information overload going on. So with Zoom AI Companion now that a lot of your routine tasks can be now delegated to Zoom AI companion. It is there as your assistant. So your meetings can be summarized. Your chats can be summarized.

Smita Hashim [00:17:54]:
You can create you can create whiteboards. You can also look at your your phone calls, you can extract, like, prioritize them, extract information from them, and you can bring it all together. So things which used to take you hours to to prepare. I mean, an example is if you're preparing for a high stakes meeting, clearly, like, all of us have been there trying to traverse the multiple sources of information and grabbing that. With Zoom AI companion, you will be able to do it literally in minutes. And think about that, like, you know, being able to pull all of your data across channels together into creating useful outcomes for you. It could be preparing for a meeting. It could be about writing for an executive group, and it could be really helping you focus on the task at hand by doing things like you know, we've talked about note taking summarization composition and so on.

Jordan Wilson [00:18:47]:
You know, Smrita, I'm curious how long I'm I'm sure, you know, internally, you all have been using, you you know, these new features for for quite some time. How long have you all been using, these new Zoom Workplace AI features?

Smita Hashim [00:19:02]:
Oh, absolutely. So for you know, we launched Zoom AI Companion in September, of last year. So we actually already have over half a 1000000 customers using them. But internally, we started the development before that. And within Zoom, we talk food our features. We we try them out ourselves. For we have been using these features ourselves for, I would say, like, you know, maybe, like, early to mid last year, we have been try working on these features. We have been using them.

Smita Hashim [00:19:34]:
And now, of course, like, you know, we are using all of these across Zoom.

Jordan Wilson [00:19:38]:
So I'm curious for you. You you know, someone that's been working as we talked about earlier in the show, you know, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etcetera. So all of these new AI powered features that the rest of the world is just getting access to now, you know, in this unified, workplace, kind of environment. What is the one feature that you have personally benefited from the most that now the rest of us are all just now getting access to?

Smita Hashim [00:20:06]:
I mean, I feel like well, you all have had access, but, you know, but we make sure you have control so you turn it on. But the feature which I would say is if you are not using our meeting summarization feature, the note taking and next steps, you are missing out. The quality is amazing. It really saves up time. I can tell you, like, I talk to people. I mean, I've even talked to, like, you know, people I'm assessing or interviewing. And then after that, you know, I just send it to the person who asked me to have the conversations to to say, here are the notes. It would take me so much time to do that before.

Smita Hashim [00:20:42]:
So, please, I would say turn it on, try it out, and see what it does for you. You will be amazed at the quality of the results and how useful it is. I've had customers come and give me a hug literally, Jordan, and say, thank you. You have made all of us so much more productive. A consulting company has come and said that all of my consultants are using it, and they are really they can focus on the meeting now.

Jordan Wilson [00:21:08]:
What would you say, right? Because there's there's no end all be all you it's it's it's not like, you know, you release, Zoom Workplace and all these new AI features and and you call it a day. Right? The work continues. So specifically when it comes to real time collaboration, and using generative AI in that process, what are maybe next steps as we look in the, you know, coming months, coming quarters, coming years? How how might we expect whether it's, you know, Zoom. I'm I'm sure there's things you can't talk about. But in general, with someone, as as much industry experience as you, what are the next steps for, you know, improved real time collaboration with AI? Kind of what's next?

Smita Hashim [00:21:51]:
Yeah. I I feel like, I think the possibilities are so amazing right now. And I feel like you will see the the there's so much attention. It's actually a very exciting time, and the speed of progression on how these capabilities evolve is also going to be incredible. So what we should continue to see is rapid rapid evolution, rapid, like, you know, rapid deployment. People have to be comfortable with the security aspects of it, and we will I think the challenge is people have to cut through the hype, and they have to really figure out what is real. Is my data being used in a way that I'm comfortable with? We don't use any data for training. They also have to look at the cost.

Smita Hashim [00:22:37]:
We provide high quality, very easy to use with no additional cost. So I feel like what we will see is really a boost of productivity, but you also asked about where it will go. I think generative AI, digital assistant, Zoom AI companion will continue to connect more and more of our data in ways that will make us more productive. So as teams, we will be able to do a lot more, and we are talking right now about a lot of the, you know, content which we are talking about text and speech and discussions, but also things like creating a small reel, which has highlights of your meeting. How powerful will that be? We have smart chapters already. Right? Like, you know, think about how it can really come together across all of the different areas, which is called multimodal. It can take your audio. It can take your video.

Smita Hashim [00:23:29]:
It can create take your text, and it can really make you more productive. I personally am even really excited about, you know, the the, like, the work we'd be doing with Apple and and, you know, immersive reality or augmented reality. It's it's going to be an exciting time. My advice to readers to to listeners would be that you must you must start using features and trying them out, and you must make sure that, you know, you're looking at the aspects all aspects, which I'm sure you are, Security, responsibility, cost, and usability in order to get started on your journey. It's a very exciting one.

Jordan Wilson [00:24:06]:
So I'm I'm glad you brought up all the the the data and privacy. So I mean, that's a brilliant on that one. So we got that out of the way. Right? But, maybe as as we wrap up, I have I have one other question. It because I think in my mind, I've, like, probably, you know, countless millions of other people that use Zoom on a daily basis. I've always thought of of Zoom as a meeting tool, but it seems like a lot of these new AI features, this this new Zoom workplace that was just announced, you know, like this week. Right? Is is is Zoom taking on more of being a a content, production tool, a productivity, software suite versus just a meeting platform? Is that kind of still happening?

Smita Hashim [00:24:52]:
Absolutely. So, really, Zoom workplace is about the total employee experience. It's about communications, meetings, chat, phone, email. It's about productivity. It's about engagement. How do we stay connected with each other within a company? And then it's also about making sure our, you know, office experiences are great. So it is the total employee experience which we are so excited. You know? We have been on a mission to build this out based on the interest and demand from our customers, but, you know, but but now Zoom Workplace brings it all together along with the power of generative AI with Zoom AI companion.

Jordan Wilson [00:25:31]:
Alright. I love it. Just some fantastic insights from an industry expert. Breaking news as always here on the Everyday AI Show. Smita, thank you so much for joining the show. We appreciate your insights.

Smita Hashim [00:25:45]:
Thank you so much. Pleasure to be here, Jordan.

Jordan Wilson [00:25:47]:
Alright. As a reminder, that was a lot a lot of features, a lot of things that we maybe didn't even have time to talk to. It'll all be in the newsletter. So if you haven't already, make sure you go to your everydayai.com. Sign up for that free daily newsletter. If this episode is helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends, your network. Hey. If you need another content production tool, productivity tool, it might be that thing that you're using literally every single day for meetings alone.

Jordan Wilson [00:26:13]:
Thanks for joining us for this episode of Everyday AI. As always, check our newsletter for your daily news, and we hope to see you back tomorrow and every day for more everyday AI. Thanks, y'all.

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