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Zoomtopia 2019: Day 1 Highlights
October 15, 2019 by John Montgomery

Day 1 of Zoomtopia 2019 is a wrap! Thank you all for making it such an amazing event.

Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan kicked off the day with a keynote speech exploring the inspiration for this year’s event, “Gratitude,” and the journey Zoom has taken to become a leader in the unified communications industry. Speaking to that theme of gratitude, Yuan said that the best way to show gratitude is to continue to build a better, smarter service for customers.

“We are grateful for our customer’s support and encouragement, also grateful to our competitors for pushing us to build a better product,” he said.

Zoomtopia 2019 Day 1

Yuan was joined on-stage by Zoom CPO Oded Gal, who shared some exciting product and partnership announcements, including new features like reaction and gesture functions in Zoom Meetings and the start of an application development contest that will help build the future of application integrations. 

“Our mission at Zoom is to give people the ability to accomplish more,” Gal said. “That is why we are leveraging things like AI and machine learning to remove friction from the user experience and deliver a richer communications experience.”

Some other session highlights from Day 1:

Walmart and the Future of Work

After almost a year of using Zoom, Walmart’s Principal Technical Program Manager Sue Pawlishen and Walmart’s Senior Product Manager Nick Dowd took the stage at Zoomtopia 2019 to share their journey with Zoom, the lessons they learned along the way, and how they are leveraging Zoom to empower their customers. Session highlights included a discussion of what customers expect from their product experience, building trust with end users, and their plans to leverage AI and machine learning to make meetings more efficient and remove friction from the user experience. Some takeaways:

  • Walmart’s initial challenges for video conferencing included achieving stability, getting high-quality audio and video, and getting their associates to leverage the technology. It often felt like they were forced to use it because it was the standard procedure for communications, not because it was intuitive or made their lives easier.
  • After implementing Zoom, Walmart collected continuous feedback about user experience to help them implement effective changes – “Feedback Fridays” – where employees could share what was working and what wasn’t, which helped to create a more efficient, frictionless user experience.
  • In the future, Walmart plans to use AI and machine learning to remove friction from user experience, including personalized meeting experiences, improved scheduling, facial recognition, voice recognition, and live voice transcription.

Zoomtopia 2019 Day 1

The Future of Video-First Unified Communications

As society has become more interconnected, exciting new trends have begun to shape communication, both at a personal level and a professional level. Zoom’s Product Marketing Lead for Zoom Phone, Niel Levonius, gave attendees a peek at the future of video-first unified communications, breaking down some of the new trends in unified communications and providing a roadmap of where the future of communications is headed. A few takeaways:

  • The ways we communicate in our personal lives is driving the ways that we communicate in the office.
  • One of the main goals is to reduce admin overhead. May have paid for infrastructure already, but ongoing costs like dedicated personnel, phone lines, spare parts, etc., drive up costs. Going with consolidated platform reduces the amount you have to manage and brings down admin costs.

Quote: “If it’s all on one app, and it’s easy to use, your customers are probably going to use it. They are not handcuffed to phone, text, video, or chat; they can choose the mode of communication they want to use.” 

Zoomtopia 2019 Day 1

Workplace Best Practices for Designing Spectacular Conference Rooms

Creating a great conference room requires more than just great hardware and intuitive video conferencing software. To help users get the most out of their conference room experience, Zoom Rooms Product Marketing Manager Esther Yoon sat down with Jon Schramm, a Workplace Designer at Herman Miller, and Geno Zaharie, a Senior Global Alliance Manager at Logitech, to discuss how creating a great experience requires both conference room design and correct hardware placement. Some takeaways:

  • Placing speakers and cameras near the front of the room will help create a more natural atmosphere for conversation, giving a remote user the impression that you are looking and listening to them directly rather than looking somewhere else in the room when they are speaking. 
  • Lighting is one of the biggest factors in getting solid video performance. Direct lighting creates harsh contrast, whereas indirect, diffused lighting provides even coverage without hot spots.
  • Hard surfaces, tall ceilings, glass walls, gaps under doors can interfere with audio quality, creating echo, feedback, and noise pollution, making it harder for remote user to hear.
  • Using things like acoustic panels, rugs, carpet, soft furniture can help absorb sound, prevent echoing, and feedback. 

Quote: “Taking a step back as an IT leader and really thinking about what your employees will be using rooms for and how they are using them will help you create the best conference room experience.”

Zoomtopia 2019 Day 1

How Discover Inc. Delivers Big IT Results

With major challenges that include broadcasting The Olympics in 21 languages and updating more than 300 conference rooms across their organization, the IT teams at Discovery are able to deliver success on a massive scale. Discovery’s Global Vice President of Technical Workforce Jill Porubovic joined us for a deep-dive on how Discovery’s IT teams are able to handle such large projects and deliver exceptional results each time. Some takeaways:

  • Developing a playbook that allows for accountability and having one decision-maker for each part of the project creates a process that is repeatable across different projects and situations.
  • Having members of your global team participate in implementation and build comradery during developments makes everyone feel like they have skin in the game, as if they are responsible for making this work for their offices.

Quote: “Sometimes you put a product in place, and you don’t notice the impact until it smacks you in the face. That happened to me when I joined a meeting on a different video conferencing platform, and video wasn’t enabled for any of the attendees. It felt strange, and it’s not how we do things here at Discovery.”

Zoomtopia 2019 Day 1

Driving a Best-of-Breed IT Strategy

For today’s tech companies, implementing best-of-breed solutions is key to driving success and giving employees the freedom and capabilities they need to drive productivity. Zoom CIO Harry Moseley sat down with Diya Joly, CPO at Okta, Paul Chapman, CIO at Box, and Yousuf Khan, CIO at Moveworks, to discuss how these industry leaders recognize and implement best-of-breed solutions in their own organizations. Some key takeaways:

  • Interoperability and scalability are two of the most important aspects of a best-of-breed solution.
  • The most important criteria for choosing tools and apps is whether or not it improves employees ability to do their work as a whole.
  • Have to constantly innovate a solution or the freedom of choice will dictate which solutions are implemented. It’s much easier to change solutions nowadays, so organizations need to stay competitive or users will go elsewhere.
  • Success for apps has gone from whether or not the app is installed to whether or not app is used. Installation and use are two very different things.

Quote: “The slowest rate of change that we will ever experience is the rate of change we are currently experiencing.”

Tips and Tricks For End Users

With Zoom’s numerous features, users should know how to use these useful capabilities to get the most out of their video conferencing experience. In this session, Customer Success Manager Emily Nguyen and Senior Sales Engineer Kevin Nguyen went over a number of useful tips and tricks for end users, including how to get the best experience with a virtual background, how to leverage transcription to create a better user experience, and how to easily identify issues during meetings. Some takeaways: 

  • Cloud recordings can also have voice transcription. Voice transcription is searchable for keywords. It can also be edited for clarity and accuracy, and you can also create chapters in transcription to make it more organized and digestible.
  • If you want to avoid your virtual background cutting into your outline, use a blurred background. It won’t cut off hair, ears, or headset in the background.
  • You can test a microphone and speaker, which makes it far easier to identify issues during a video meeting. It makes it easy to figure out whether it is a hardware issue or user error.

Quote: “I do training sessions all the time, and when I’m doing trainings, I don’t like to look at my own image because it can trip me up. Hiding your personal video stream makes it easier to focus on your attendees, concentrate on what you’re saying, and avoid slip-ups.”

Zoomtopia 2019 Day 1

Quotes from the day

“Fast-forward to 2035: You can use Zoom to talk to anyone in the world. And that experience will be much richer than just face to face. When someone shakes your hand, you can feel their hand. When you give a hug, you can feel the hug. When you speak English, it will automatically be translated into a language people can understand. In the future, you’ll even be able to share a cup of coffee over video conference. This is the future of video communications.” — Eric S. Yuan, Zoom CEO

“The slowest rate of change that we will ever experience is the rate of change we are currently experiencing.” — Paul Chapman, CIO at Box

“Everyone’s days are full of meetings, and it used to be that you had to choose between attending a meeting and staying out of the loop. But with the addition of new features and capabilities, associates have access to the information in these meetings they need to make important decisions.” — Sue Pawlishen, Walmart’s Principal Technical Program Manager

Day 2 look-ahead

A couple of sessions to put on your calendar for Wednesday’s Zoomtopia activities:

Zoom Chat, Connecting Your Team With Workstream Collaboration, 11 a.m. PT – Join us for a deep-dive on how to make your organization more productive with Zoom Chat and why workstream collaboration is so important to driving employee success and agility. This session will include an in-depth look at the latest features available for Zoom Chat and give you a sneak peek at our roadmap for the platform and the future of workplace communications. 

Zoom’s Favorite Room Setups: From Executive Offices to Large All-Hands Training Rooms, Noon PT – Whether it’s a large training room, an executive office, or a huddle space, Zoom’s video conferencing technology can create an amazing conference room experience in any conference room. In this session, Zoom’s Solution Architect JayJay Kim will go over the hardware options for different types of Zoom Rooms and other important considerations, such as design, layout, and managing light and acoustics. 

Driving Cultural Transformation with Zoom, 1 p.m. PT – By offering a video-first communications approach, tons of useful features, and a simplified communications infrastructure, Zoom’s unified communications platform is driving a culture change in businesses around the globe. Join us for this session to hear how Zoom’s platform can help your company become more collaborative and drive the right cultural changes to create a more inclusive, tighter-knit workplace. 

See everyone on Day 2 of Zoomtopia 2019, and don’t forget the celebration of happiness music event to wrap it all up!