Today, Toronto-based Zoom.ai launched its new Microsoft Outlook plugin and Google Chrome extension, hoping to target companies that are not using chat applications such as Slack and Skype.
“The reason we expanded to the inbox is because not all companies use a chat application yet,” Roy Pereira, CEO and founder of Zoom.ai, told BetaKit. “Not all employees can use chat to communicate with the rest of their applications. And of course, everyone has an inbox, either Outlook or G Suite, so that’s why we’re going there.”
“We always had a vision of being larger, where an enterprise software company supports many different platforms.”
He said that larger companies, which make up most of Zoom.ai’s customer base, are typically slower to adopt new technologies. Some are still migrating to the cloud, he noted, and they’re not on any chat applications. Pereira also mentioned that not all employees like using chat, noting, however, that this is a small percentage.
Zoom.ai’s AI assistant for employees helps to automate tasks like meeting scheduling, internal document searches, and reminders. The assistant will operate as usual with the new Outlook plugin and Gmail extension. When emailing a contact, Zoom.ai plugin will appear at the sidebar and offer to find information about the person, or schedule meetings and calls. Similarly to Zoom.ai’s chat application, the automated assistant will learn about the user’s preferences and perform simple tasks, such as checking the weather and informing users of what meetings they have for the day.
Pereira said Zoom.ai first spoke to Microsoft about its Outlook plugin last year, eventually getting access to its plugin architecture. Zoom.ai originally announced a partnership with Microsoft in February 2018, integrating with its communication platform Teams and Microsoft Office 365.
“It’s a huge significance for us because we started off with chat and the whole chat bot craze back three years ago,” he said. “And we always had a vision of being larger than that, where an enterprise software company supports many different platforms – not only chat, but email as well.”
Back in 2017, Pereira told BetaKit he wanted Zoom.ai to be the “Salesforce of our generation”.
The company will continue to look at different interfaces and features to further expand its base. One of these features, to be launched shortly according to Pereira, is an automated conference room booking system that determines who, how many people, and what rooms are available for meetings.
“We’re supporting all of the tiny use cases around meetings and information discovery for employees,” he said. “We support 90 percent of use cases but there’s 10 percent more. They’re smaller, but we’re filling out all of those.”
Last year, Zoom.ai raised a $3.1 million seed extension for product development and to expand sales in the US and Europe. In September 2017, Zoom.ai announced the acquisition of SimplyInsight, a Toronto-based company that plugs into a company’s data and allows users to ask questions in a natural language delivered through chat.