I attend numerous industry events over the course of the year, but there are few I look forward to as much as Zoomtopia. As an analyst looking for the latest industry trends, and as a human being who wants to have a little fun at these things, it’s hard to beat Zoomtopia. For example, on the analyst side, at last year’s inaugural Zoomtopia I had an early (if not my first) view of real time transcription with clickable links to the relevant moment in the video recording. Last month at InfoComm it seemed like every vendor on the floor was demoing similar technology, but I saw it first at Zoomtopia. Meanwhile, on the fun side, I got to meet Weezer at the same event. The bar has been set!
This year the event has been expanded based upon the success and feedback from last year. It’s now two full days which include 5 keynotes, 25 breakout sessions, lunches, happy hours, and a celebration concert with Mackelmore! While there will be a lot to cover, I will be looking forward to the following in particular.
- Eric Yuan (CEO – Zoom Video Communications): Eric’s keynote last year was truly inspirational. Most CEOs of billion-dollar companies talk a lot about growth and profit, while giving lip-service to things like customer satisfaction and employee happiness. Eric puts happiness above everything, and the result is a company that attracts the top talent, produces amazing results, and is the envy of the industry.
- Stephen M.R. Covey – The author of “The Speed of Trust” and son of the late Steven R. Covey, writer of the legendary “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Stephen has an MBA from Harvard and was the CEO of the largest leadership development company in the world. A highly sought-after keynote speaker, his message about the power of “trust” ties directly into the teamwork and productivity discussions that drive the visual collaboration industry.
- Oded Gal (Head of Product Management) and the Zoom Product Team: Last year we got a sneak peek of Zooms latest features, some of which turned out to lead the trends of the next 12 months. For example, every cloud video company is currently touting their live transcription features. First time I saw this feature live was at Zoomtopia last year. I can’t wait to see what Oded and his team has in store as the team always has fun stuff. Check out this LDV Podcast with Nitasha Walia (Sr. Product Manager), where we discuss Zoom’s social media streaming support.
- Harry Mosley (CIO at Zoom Video Communications) will talk about the future of work and introduce Joe Park (Vice President, Associate Digital Experience & Enterprise Architecture at Walmart). I’m very interested in Walmart’s story and how such a large enterprise goes through the decision making process for collaboration technologys.
- Laura Padilla (Head of BD and Channel at Zoom Video Communications) will host a “fireside chat” with Roman Pacewicz (Chief Product Officer at AT&T Business). Two industry leading communications companies with very different histories. I very curious to see if this results in them having different perspectives on the current market and customer needs.
- Serena Williams (Professional Athlete, Entrepreneur & Philanthropist): I don’t even know where to start. Serena Williams is totally amazing and I’m a huge fan. She is also a fantastic speaker and a perfect choice for this event.
I am having a very difficult time choosing which of the 25 breakout sessions to attend. Currently I am planning on sitting in on the following sessions and hoping to catch the replays of several others! (Note: The Zoom team did a great job of recording last year’s sessions and making them easily available. I don’t know why this isn’t standard at all AV industry conferences!)
- Host Training: Achieving Webinar Nirvana
Zoom has brought webinar technology to the masses. You no longer need to hire an expensive webinar service to run your events, you can do it yourself with Zoom. However, there is a lot more to a successful webinar than the technology. This session should give us some tips and guidance on hosting our own webinars.
- See the Sign: Zoom Workplace Digital Signage and Scheduling Displays
I’m very hot on Zoom’s digital signage technology and the other Zoom Room special features. This is a highly desired functionality that has been way too expensive and complicated in the past. I’m looking forward to getting a closer peek at how it all works.
- Admin Deep Dive: Zoom’s Core Meeting Platform
There has been a lot of talk about Zoom’s ability to scale from SMB to Enterprise deployments. A key element of this is managing massive numbers of accounts from the admin side. I’ve played with these tools as an analyst but never had a deep dive. This should be interesting.
- Zoom Rooms Hardware Bootcamp
Zoom has hardware vendors lining up to partner with them on Zoom Rooms, and they have been very picky with their partners. I want to know what Zoom’s experts think customers need to be looking for on the hardware side.
- Connect Your Teams with Workstream Collaboration
Zoom has a team messaging chat app. It hasn’t been covered extensively, and Zoom has been waiting for their moment to start promoting it. But I strongly believe that team messaging is the hub of modern team communications. If Zoom’s vision for team messaging follows the model of their vision for video, they could change the game there as well.
- 10 Zoom Tips and Tricks You May Not Know
Zoom’s software has a treasure trove of hidden power features. Zoom is in a bit of an interesting situation. On the one hand, the success of their platform is in large part due to the fact that the UI is incredibly user friendly. The Zoom UI only shows the most necessary functions (mute, share screen, etc.) so that casual video callers can adopt it easily. On the other hand, Zoom has these amazing developers that keep coming up with great new features (like greenscreen backgrounds) that they make available to power users in the settings menus. I’m assuming this session will be a roadmap to some of the cooler Zoom tricks.
This may be the most sought-after floor space in any industry event. Hardware vendors are lining up to hitch their wagons to Zoom’s star. The success of Zoom Rooms has changed everything. The market is choosing to buy video hardware peripherals (cameras, mics, etc.) as part of huddle room kits bundled with Zoom Room software. That means peripheral vendors’ best bet is to sell their products by being included in these bundles! We all know the incredibly high standards Zoom sets for their user experience, so they don’t just partner with any hardware vendor. These vendors must prove themselves, and the quality of the experience their products provide, to get space at this event.
Last year, the centerpiece of the exhibit space was a fully decked out Zoom Room. Since then, capabilities and flexibility of the Zoom Room offering has increased in several ways. My understanding is that this year they will have FOUR Zoom Rooms on display, in order to show off more of its configurations and capabilities.
Peppered in-between the Zoom Room and partner booths were a number of “fun stations” last year. This included a throne for social media pictures, various snack, food, drink stations, a full “Swag Store” where everyone could shop for free Zoom goodies (I still have my lunchbox and socks), and other fun activities.
Another notable element of the exhibit hall is the atmosphere. This is a fun event. This is a celebration. Last year the Zoom team was at work, but they were clearly told that they were supposed to have a good time. The millennials were playing with the giant chess sets, sandbag toss, and other games spread throughout the hall. Everyone was all smiles from the initial hello hugs, to the dancing at the live music at the end of the event.