Futurum Live! From the Show Floor at Enterprise Connect 2023 with Zoom’s Gary Sorrentino
In this episode of our Live! From the Show Floor Video Series, Shelly Kramer had the chance to sit down at Enterprise Connect 2023 this week with Zoom’s Global CIO Gary Sorrentino as part of our Futurum Live! From the Show Floor video series for a quick catch-up. Our conversation revolved around the following:
- Zoom’s evolution from a killer app to a killer platform has been the company’s focus over the course of the last year or so. Gary shared thoughts on how this process has been and what he’s thinking about ahead.
- We talked a little about the future of work and how that’s evolving, and where he and the team at Zoom are heading on that front.
- And of course, we talked about AI. Like many vendors here at Enterprise Connect, Zoom has been developing AI since the early days, it’s not a new thing by any stretch. Given the rapid rise of generative AI and all the buzz around ChatGPT and others in the space, we talked a little about Zoom is going with AI and what’s ahead.
Watch the conversation here:
Or listen to the audio here:
If you’ve not yet subscribed to the Futurum Tech Webcast, hit the ‘subscribe’ button while you’re there and you won’t miss an episode.
Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Webcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this webcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.
Shelly Kramer: Hello, I’m Shelly Kramer, principal analyst at Futurum Research, and I’m here today at Enterprise Connect in Orlando, Florida. I’m joined today by Gary Sorrentino, global CIO for Zoom. Welcome.
Gary Sorrentino: Thank you.
Shelly Kramer: It’s great to have you.
Gary Sorrentino: Thanks for having me.
Shelly Kramer: So how’s your show so far?
Gary Sorrentino: I think it’s great.
Shelly Kramer: Always great here, right?
Gary Sorrentino: Always great here.
Shelly Kramer: Always great here in Orlando where it’s 93 degrees. So Zoom has rapidly evolved from a killer app to a killer platform. Talk with me a little bit about that.
Gary Sorrentino: So before the pandemic, 2019 Zoom was this killer meeting app. As the pandemic started, we realized that we had to be more than just a meeting app. So we developed this very unusual platform to help people have the solutions that they need because it was more than just meeting. We finally got people home. The beginning of the pandemic was about just being connected, but then the second part of the pandemic was also being productive. So that’s when we had to create products like chat, we had to create products like phone, things that would amplify the ability to work disconnected. So during the pandemic, as the needs started to change, we kept adding more and more solutions, and now we’re this fully rounded platform.
Shelly Kramer: Right. Including mail and integration with email, you’ve got Zmail, you’ve got chat.
Gary Sorrentino: So the platform consists of this. The first part of the platform is Zoom One and Zoom One really including mail, chat is really for me. Zoom One is really how do we make the person productive and that’s what we focused on. But now as we’re coming out of the pandemic, people are coming back into the physical offices. That’s where Zoom Spaces came because we needed different parts of the platform to make people work physically together again. So we had Zoom One, really unleashing the human potential. Then we had earning the right of people’s commute to come back into the office, and that’s where Zoom Space is, how do we make it so that people who are in the office and not in the office are now having the same productive day with the equality and parity that they need in demand.
Shelly Kramer: Right. I think these are key sort of tenets of the future of work. I know that you’re focused a lot on that at Zoom. What else do you see ahead as it relates to the future of work and how technology’s going to both drive and enable productivity and all of that sort of thing? Are you seeing some trends here at Enterprise Connect or anything like that as it relates to the future of work?
Gary Sorrentino: Well, Enterprise Connect, there’s only one word here this week, right? It’s all AI. But in between that, I think what we’re seeing also is our clients are trying to figure out and we’re working with them is, okay, we have the employee experience, we have them coming back together experience. Now we have to work on the client experience. So we’ve been working with Zoom Contact Center, Zoom ZVA, and so how do we get that total experience? How do we make it so it’s seamless, so our employees as well as their customers are on the same platform and they have that seamless experience? TX is something people didn’t think about till after the pandemic. The employee experience was, well, that was an HR issue, and the customer experience was a sales issue. Finally, they have to be tied together and that’s what we’re working on.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. We’re seeing a theme here at Enterprise Connect around employee experience and really thinking about employee wellness. When you talk about contact center, that’s a really hard job. So seeing that focus on employee experience and employee wellness I think is really important right now.
Gary Sorrentino: Well, I mean people have to upskill, but there’s a stat that says about 70% of employees today feel they’re unsuited for the future of work. So what we’re trying to do is work with our clients to say, “Don’t train them. Training is your job. Upskill them so they learn how to work together in this new environment.” Gen Zs came and they have a different way of working. They’re changing the world. They’re helping make the future of work better, but they’re asking major questions like, “Why do you do it that way?” We have really bad answers, we keep saying because, and we’re meeting in that balance now to say we’re working asynchronously. They know how to do that. Chat’s not something that a lot of people use before the pandemic and now chat is part of our whole lives. We’re all working asynchronously.
Shelly Kramer: Well, and it’s always been a part of their lives, these digital natives.
Gary Sorrentino: It’s always been a part of their lives.
Shelly Kramer: The other thing, I actually read an article this morning that I thought was interesting. To your point about employees, an upskilling was that a large number of employees report that they don’t feel appreciated and sometimes not feeling appreciated has to do with workflows that are not being productive or sort of technology solutions that aren’t up to date and that sort of thing and that they’re leaving.
Gary Sorrentino: Yeah, they’re leaving.
Shelly Kramer: They don’t feel appreciated. They’re out and that’s problematic as well.
Gary Sorrentino: I think it’s a balance of we call it magnet and mandate. How many of the employees are waking up in the morning going, “I want to go there.” Right? This other side of it is, “Well, I’m going because someone sent me a little note that said.” So we’re working with our customers to really rethink about the office. The office has to be more of a destination for collaboration. Please don’t come in if you plan on just doing Zoom calls all day. You have to come into this building, we’re going to set it up for collaboration. We’re going to teach them, they’re going to be appreciated. They’re going to bond again. They’re going to get those serendipitous moments. But it takes a lot because you have to teach people that going back into the office is a meaningful day, might not be productive in the sense of you didn’t answer 30 mails, but you had a great bonding experience and-
Shelly Kramer: You’ve got good things done collaboratively.
Gary Sorrentino: Right. Both of those are equally as important.
Shelly Kramer: Right. So you mentioned the AI word, and you’re absolutely correct. That is the key theme across this event today, and actually, I think across the technology landscape. Talk with me a little bit. I mean, AI isn’t new for Zoom. Yeah, talk with me a little bit.
Gary Sorrentino: We’re a completely AI powered platform, right? I think the difference with AI today is this. As provide providers, we use AI, we center you in the camera, we take care of your background, we give you translation, we give you transcription. I think what’s new about AI now is we’re putting it in the hands of the users. Now they’re seeing the wonder of this function to say, “Wait a second, now I can get a little bit of assistance. I can make it so that I’m getting meeting summaries.” I mean, think about it. We record a lot of meetings, but I don’t know if I want to listen to a 60 minute meeting, but I’ll definitely read a three paragraph summary.
Shelly Kramer: Right. Or action items, yeah.
Gary Sorrentino: Or I can come in and say, “Hey, catch me up.” We’re always 15 minutes late, but I don’t have to stop the meeting to say, “Okay, who can catch me up?” I can ask AI to do it. Also, people today are better editors than authors. I would love to have somebody help me start my email and then work on it. That just gets me over that little writer’s block at the beginning.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, it helps a lot.
Gary Sorrentino: Yeah. So I think now it’s finally taking the power that we’ve always known was there, and now the users are actually able to see it themselves in a language they understand. They’re just talking to it.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. That’s awesome. All right, Gary, as we wrap this conversation, what do you want to leave our viewers with about what’s Zoom thinking about now? I mean, what are you thinking about? What are you most excited about?
Gary Sorrentino: So I think Zoom was there at the beginning of the pandemic. I think we’ve morphed to meet the needs of customers through the pandemic. The future of work is going to change the way we work. We want to be part of that. We want to be part of, we want to change the way people work. We want to improve the future of work. We want to work with our clients to figure out what they need to do that. We’re going to evolve with it. It’s the greatest time in the world to be in technology. We have the option to change the future and Zoom wants to be right there front and center.
Shelly Kramer: That’s awesome. You’re absolutely right. It is a great time to be involved in the world of technology. Thank you so much for spending time with me.
Gary Sorrentino: Thank you so much for having me.
Shelly Kramer: It’s great. Everybody, thanks for hanging out with us today.
Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”