New features flaunted at this week’s Zoom User Conference Zoomtopia point to Zoom becoming a serious contender for multi-day multi-session events. Although most features will only be released in the fourth quarter or later, the opportunity to explore first-hand some features as part of Zoomtopia made it clear that the company is serious about investing in the B2B events space.
Almost 50,000 users signed up for Zoomtopia, an event that featured over 75 educational sessions with 100 speakers, which was tantalizingly powered by ‘Conference’, the event professional’s pick of the crop of the new features announced at the event.
‘Conference’ is a new event type that Zoom plans to make available this fall on Zoom Events. It allows hosts to organize multi-track multi-day events in a more sophisticated format with features that have long been missing from Zoom; until now, features have made the standalone platform unsuitable for more complex business events.
‘Conference’ features include the ability to host up to 13 concurrent sessions at once, hosting events with up five days in duration, robust branding opportunities, showcasing of sponsors in dedicated ways (including an Expo Floor with a Spatial View), and an itinerary builder for attendees.
While none of these features are new to many of the top event tech platforms, their implementation into Zoom will bring them to an audience that may not have used them before. In addition, getting to experience these tools first-hand at Zoomtopia makes them that bit more tangible and desirable.
Zoom also announced impressive updates to its live translation and transcription capabilities with the addition of real-time, automated translation. These features give users a simple way to make virtual events more inclusive and are becoming industry standard for any global event that aims to reach across cultures and languages.
Other noteworthy announcements include a new partnership with the Facebook-owned Oculus to bring Horizon Workrooms to Zoom. This feature won’t be available until next year, but it promises to create an immersive experience for Zoom Whiteboard and Zoom Meetings in the Workrooms environment. Zoom Founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan said, “previously considered ‘futuristic’ technologies are on the verge of becoming a reality and could reshape the way we work.”
New encryption features that enhance the platform’s security were also announced. With the platform’s security features being heavily criticized at the start of the pandemic, all security updates are welcome.
It’s worth noting that both the event and the product announcements were primarily aimed at enterprise clients, Zoom’s primary target audience. All announcements were framed around the idea of empowering and engaging the modern hybrid workforce with connected workstreams.
Interestingly, Zoom’s own research indicated that events are best experienced in person. Convenience and time savings were the factors that made it acceptable to use video for events. Respondents across the globe were adamant on their preference that events be in-person going forward. Virtual options were only welcomed for those who needed a distraction or when in-person was not available.
There’s no denying that ‘Conference’ may soon be a viable option to run many types of virtual and possibly hybrid events. Provided prices are kept low, and Zoom can offer a level of support adequate for business events, this platform could be a winner and a real threat to many of the leading virtual event tech providers.