Interview

POWERING WORK-FROM-ANYWHERE

Vishal Amin, Channel Head - India & SAARC, Zoom Video Communications
Vishal Amin, Channel Head - India & SAARC, Zoom Video Communications

Zoom delivers a unified and intelligent collaboration platform that fundamentally changes how people interact, connecting them through frictionless, smart and secure meetings, and more.

“Our Distribution Partner Program helps drive adoption of the Zoom platform and ensures customers get the best possible communications experience.”

Vishal Amin, Channel Head – India & SAARC, Zoom Video Communications

The Collaboration Technology industry witnessed a significant uptick in demand due to the massive digital adoption triggered by the pandemic. The adoption of these Collaboration technologies has been hastened by the rising wave of remote working and distributed workforces across the globe. Companies are increasingly deploying various types of collaborative tools to cater to the demands of a hybrid workforce, while continuing to drive innovation to remain relevant, and to resolve issues more efficiently in order to meet evolving consumer expectations, maintain market share, and gain competitive advantage.

Even as some workers start returning to their offices, the pandemic, probably, brought in a permanent change in workforce structure that requires additional investment in technologies to facilitate, capture and organize open conversations and information sharing.

Massive digitisation has forced bent the long-term curve of the social software and collaboration market upward, with double-digit growth projected through 2023.

As part of our effort to gain actionable insights into the Collaboration technology market, SME Channels embarks upon making an incisive analysis of the Collaboration Technology landscape.

Here, in an exclusive chat with SME Channels, Vishal Amin, Channel Head – India & SAARC, Zoom Video Communications, reveals how Zoom has been leveraging the recent uptick in market demand for Collaboration Technology Solutions; his key predictions for the Collaboration solutions industry; how zoom solutions are benefitting his clients as well as partners; the key Product Differentiation that Zoom brings onto the table; how his company is driving better traction for its channel partners; major challenges for the Collaboration tech sector; and much more. Edited Excerpts…

How has your company been leveraging the significant uptick in the demand for Collaboration Technology Solutions triggered by massive digitization in recent years?

Zoom has evolved into an all-in-one intelligent collaboration platform that makes connecting easier, more immersive, and more dynamic for businesses and individuals. We deliver a unified and intelligent collaboration platform that fundamentally changes how people interact, connecting them through frictionless, smart and secure meetings, phone, team chat, email, content sharing, events and more. Zoom has built and launched more than 1,500 features and enhancements for the Zoom platform in FY23 and brought new products such as Zoom IQ for Sales to market, advancing the way people collaborate with each other, their organization, and their customers— ultimately, opening the doors wide for creativity and connection. Our total revenue for FY23 is $4.39B, up 7% year over year. We have approximately 213,000 Enterprise customers at the end of FY23, up 12% year over year. We serve customers of all sizes, from individuals to global Fortune 500 organizations. Nearly, 86% of the Fortune 100 choose Zoom.

Zoom’s communications platform enables the ‘work-from-anywhere’ workforce. Consumers are now expecting a seamless, connected experience across both physical and virtual channels, be it for business, education, healthcare, event/entertainment, retail and BFSI. Zoom has helped many organisations reimagine the customer journey for their end-users. Olive Living, a next-gen living community in India, found the perfect solution with Zoom Rooms Virtual Receptionist which is being leveraged at some of their properties to greet guests upon arrival, provide seamless check-in, and receive

feedback on their virtual receptionist experience. Zoom helped Shyft scale 10x by encouraging global users to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Shyft was empowered to create a more intuitive and reliable video experience on its platform while expanding to new markets with Zoom. Cypeer brings cybersecurity peers around the world to meet, share, learn, and make connections. The company is rolling out their platform with the integration of Zoom Meetings SDK to enable seamless collaboration while bringing together people for live interactions. Skylark Drones has recently integrated Zoom Video SDK with their Drone Software Platform – Drone Mission Ops, bringing forth a new level of connectivity between the skies and the screen.

As businesses around the world have adapted how they work, Zoom Partners have helped deliver the Zoom platform to enable workforces and improve customer and employee experiences— redefining communication and collaboration. As of Q2FY23, globally, our channel is contributing 30% to our non-online bookings globally, a 10% increase from this time last year, and over 32% to Zoom Phone. We are seeing strong channel momentum and growth in APAC: As of Q3 FY23, over 800 channel partners across APAC (excluding Japan) have joined the Zoom Up Partner Programme, yielding 35% in channel revenue contribution to Zoom’s overall business in the region. In India our partners include Rahi, Tata Teleservices and Savex Technologies in India. These partners are helping us to provide our world-class communications platform services to businesses of all sizes enabling them to collaborate effectively not only within their teams but also with their partners in India and globally.

What key megatrends do you foresee in the Collaboration Technology Solutions market?

Consumers have higher expectations than ever before for customer support. They want faster, more efficient help, and they want it 24/7. But that’s just the beginning, from their desire for more personalized experiences to channels and technology, all of which are shaping customer experience (CX) trends across different industries. A new survey from Morning Consult commissioned by Zoom reveals that consumers are using, and want to be using, emerging methods of support, especially video. Nearly a quarter of people have used live video support, and one in three would consider using video (31%) in the future. At least half of consumers would consider using live video for help with an issue or problem (54%), or requesting a refund (50%). The survey further

highlights that younger audiences, who are between 18 and 29 years of age, are more interested in using video for support than other age groups.

Technology investments that seek to incorporate existing digital solutions can support organisations in their business goals, such as improving customer experience or increasing productivity within teams while keeping costs low. With factors like recessionary pressures, intensifying cyber threats, and supply chain dynamics setting in, it is more important than ever before that companies’ digital innovation efforts lend into tangible benefits for its bottomline.

In addition, we believe that the 2023 workspace will continue to be disrupted as employees and employers alike actualise the ‘work-from-anywhere’ model. While employees still find their time mostly split between the office and home in the past few years, we expect true flexible work to become increasingly popular as employees collaborate and work in the office, at home, on-the-go, and anywhere in between.

With all the buzz around generative AI, people are really starting to evaluate how artificial intelligence (AI) can help transform their everyday experiences and open up new possibilities for how we live and work. Many existing Zoom products that customers know and love already incorporate AI. Zoom Meetings include AI-powered features such as virtual backgrounds, avatars, gesture recognition, and background noise suppression — all of which help make meetings more engaging and inclusive. Zoom Virtual Agent with Contact Center, and our conversation intelligence solution Zoom IQ for Sales use AI as a foundation to help customer-facing teams deliver great customer experiences.

From working in malls or virtual coworking spaces, to using avatars in replacement of human faces, the possibilities of collaboration and connection in the workspace are endless, especially when advanced technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) come into play. This will soon become reality as organisations continue to make flexible work arrangements a permanent aspect in the future of work, and technology providers ramp up innovations that help employees stay connected while on the go.

What are your major Product/Services offerings?

Zoom has built an easier, more intelligent, and dynamic collaboration platform that unites people to unlock their potential. It is a comprehensive collaboration platform that is not just for use in a traditional office setting. The Zoom all-in-

one collaboration platform enhances employee engagement, prioritization and connection with new, effortless ways to interact, gives teams time back to connect and drive outcomes with data and AI for automation & insights adds value beyond the obvious IT use case by providing targeted solutions that drive real business results across industries and departments.

In May 2023, we announced that we have received the Unified License with Access – All/PAN India, NLD National Long Distance, and ILD – International Long Distance from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India to offer Zoom Phone, its industry leading cloud PBX service, to multinational corporations (MNCs) and businesses operating in India. In October last year, we introduced Zoom Events which ensures that large forums and conferences are able to transition online and continue running smoothly, removing geographical barriers and adding more value to all stakeholders. As part of Zoom’s expansion plans in India, we also announced the setting up of a second technology centre in Chennai to supplement the existing technology centre in Bangalore, in addition to the two data centres in Mumbai and Hyderabad. With an aim to offer a more personalised customer experience, we have also made Zoom Translated Captions available in Beta for Hindi and Tamil for our users in India. We continue to execute our platform vision by delivering products that help businesses maintain flexibility and adapt to evolving customer needs.

Collaboration techs should provide the platform to connect with external partners, customers, and vendors through seamless and high-impact communication. How have your clients as well as partners been benefiting from them?

Collaboration solutions serve as an establishment for empowering today’s digital workforce to be more productive wherever they are, adding immense value to businesses of all sizes. Implementing aspects of virtual collaboration provides a unique opportunity to cut costs, save time, and still bring workers face-to-face. We believe that virtual collaboration is a gamechanger in terms of engaging and communicating with key stakeholders like customers and employees. Collaboration tools help in enhancing employee experience by offering many benefits including maintaining cohesion, increasing productivity, inspiring creativity, and enabling the workforce to learn new tools, helping them to gain new skills along the way. For customers, these tools help in going beyond a transactional relationship, empower them to choose their preferred

communication channels and offer a customized interaction to make them feel valued.

Each of our partner programs has had its own unique impact on the business, creating new opportunities for growth, partnerships, and expansion. Our Distribution Partner Program helps drive adoption of the Zoom platform and ensures customers get the best possible communications experience. We continue to onboard new distributors in key international markets. Our ISV partners are critical in helping Zoom further our platform offering by creating applications and products that leverage our API and SDK. Across the globe, more than 300+ leading software and SaaS providers power their applications with Zoom. We will continue to see new industries and markets being developed on top of Zoom. Developers use solutions and tools made available by the Zoom Developer Platform to build apps and integrations either on top of Zoom’s industry-leading collaboration platform, or by integrating core Zoom technology into their products and services. We also introduced Zoom Developer Support in which partners gain access to Zoom development experts including priority response times, dev forum access, technical resources, and more. Partners can also resell Zoom Developer Support to their end customers who need continuous integration / development support on APIs & SDKs.

Clear, easy-to-understand, user-friendly End-User Interface is pivotal for the success of any Collaboration Solution. What sort of Product differentiation do you bring onto the table to ensure greater traction for channel partners?

Zoom is committed to investing in our partner community. We are continuing to focus on enhancing our partner programs. Our goal is to support our partners in their journey as they develop new competencies and grow their businesses with Zoom. We believe Zoom is the “best of breed solution” in video and that our all-in-one collaborations platform, including phone, team chat, email, content sharing, events and more. As we continue to build our partner programs, we will remain focused on three key pillars: increasing sales alignment, ease of doing business, and partner profitability.

First, the number of Zoom employees dedicated to supporting our partner community will continue to grow across sales, operations, programs,

marketing, and more. Our investments in our workforce are at the core of Zoom’s values as we remain focused on delivering customer and partner happiness. Next, we want to deliver a simple, seamless experience for our partner community to transact with Zoom. You will see improvements across operations as we hone in on driving system improvements and automation, enablement as we build additional training and qualification tracks, and programs as we deliver new methodologies for feedback, partner advocacy, and engagement.

Our final goal is to offer a platform that partners can leverage to build a profitable business. We are dedicated to providing innovative programs and you will continue to see our partner offerings grow in the coming year – whether that’s through software integration, our opportunities for app development with APIs and SDKs, or sales and delivery services.

What are the major factors that are impacting the growth of the Collaboration tech sector? Is cannibalization of revenue a major challenge?

The recent years have brought significant change for business leaders, including digital transformation initiatives, a transition to flexible workstyles, and increased pressure to deliver premium customer service. An uncertain economy has decision-makers trying to determine where to maximize and where to pull back to improve effectiveness, reduce costs, and automate. To stay competitive, businesses must be customer-centric and flexible while making investments that accelerate growth. Communication and collaboration technology can help you stay nimble while driving meaningful impact. We believe Zoom is the “best of breed solution” in video and that our full communications platform, including phone, team chat, email, content sharing, events and more.

We are focused on helping our customers and delivering the best experience to them regardless of the economic environment, and many customers have found cost savings in migrating from legacy solutions to Zoom’s products. As a result, Zoom’s platform strategy is kicking into high gear – we have significantly expanded our enterprise business, with customers booking larger deals, for longer durations, and accessing more products across our portfolio. We are being prudent about hiring and investment, strategically focusing on areas most critical to innovation and long-term growth and with the highest ROI. Our world-class margins and cash flow, combined with our position as a platform of

choice for users and businesses around the globe, afford us flexibility and opportunity in this environment.

Collaboration Solutions business is highly tech-intensive. How do you upskill your partners to help them tap more into the market opportunities?

Our partners are fundamental to our growth and success at Zoom, which is why we are constantly evaluating new ways to improve and offer additional benefits to our partner ecosystem. We recently launched the Zoom Up Partner Program, a unified, holistic, global partner framework that makes it simple for partners to transact and grow their business with Zoom. The enhanced Zoom Up program is designed to improve partners’ overall experience working with Zoom by offering a simplified architecture, one that today’s resellers, carriers, distributors, ISVs, and referral partners need as they navigate a fast-paced, competitive landscape. The program also offers product certification for both sales & presales teams which helps on demand training and upskilling of our partners.The Zoom Up Partner Program has started rolling out to select partners and will be fully implemented across the entire partner ecosystem later this year.

As we continue to invest in the expansion of Zoom’s diverse partner network, we announced the launch of our first-ever Zoom Partner Demand Center in December 2021. The Partner Demand Center provides members of the Zoom partner community with a leading marketing automation platform to expand their Zoom marketing practice. It offers a wide array of robust functionalities, including email campaigns, web content syndication, social media marketing, events marketing, including webinar syndication, video marketing, digital ads and banners, and co-branding. The Zoom Partner Demand Center strives to provide our partners with the tools they need to be successful, including resources designed to help users upskill their existing team. These resources include online marketing support, training, and access to our partner marketing concierge service for help with every step of the marketing journey.

Have you recently made or plan to make any major investments in terms of channel expansions or product development in India and SAARC?

Zoom is a powerful enterprise collaboration platform that goes beyond communicating to support complex business efforts. Our internal innovation engine has never been stronger. We are committed to product innovation. In

May 2023, we announced that we have received the Unified License with Access – All/PAN India, NLD National Long Distance, and ILD – International Long Distance from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India to offer Zoom Phone, its industry leading cloud PBX service, to multinational corporations (MNCs) and businesses operating in India. In October last year, we introduced Zoom Events – an all-in-one solution for virtual events for our customers in the country. As part of Zoom’s expansion plans in India, we also announced the setting up of a second technology centre in Chennai to supplement the existing technology centre in Bangalore, in addition to the two data centres in Mumbai and Hyderabad. With the goal to offer a more personalised customer experience, we have also made Zoom Translated Captions available in Beta for Hindi and Tamil for our users in India.

Last year we announced the launch of our newly redesigned Zoom Up Partner Program, which is a holistic partner framework that makes it simple for partners to outline their path to success with Zoom. With the launch of the Zoom Up program, we also introduced the Zoom Up Partner Learning Center to our partner network — a revamped learning management system (LMS) that will be the hub for partner education and training, hosting all accreditations as well as additional enablement courses. The enhanced Zoom Up program is designed to improve partners’ overall experience working with Zoom by offering a simplified architecture, one that today’s resellers, carriers, distributors, ISV, and referral partners need as they navigate a fast-paced, competitive landscape.

In December 2021, we announced the launch of our first-ever Zoom Partner Demand Center for Zoom’s diverse partner network. Looking ahead, we believe expanding our product lines to encompass a full-service collaboration suite is key to achieving our platform vision. We’ll continue to keep our customers in India at the center, focusing on solving their greatest challenges – growing across different segments, departments, industries and use cases.

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