Interview with Roy Pereira, CEO, Zoom.ai
Start-up and turn-around specialist. Entrepreneurial business developer with unique insight into today’s technology market and business/marketing strategies. Direct executive operational experience with both publicly-traded corporations and early-stage startups.
Zoom.ai is SaaS start-up, utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to enrich all employees’ work experience while increasing workplace productivity. Zoom.ai operates like a virtual helper, chatting with each employee in their favorite chat application and off-loading repetitive, low-value, day-to-day tasks. Key tasks include document generation, corporate information discovery, and full lifecycle calendaring.
Tell us about the journey that brought you to start Zoom.ai.
I began my first startup after attending Carleton University’s computer science program, and since then I’ve created several startups and worked with numerous tech companies based in Ottawa, Silicon Valley, and Toronto.
In 2007, following a long stint at Cisco, I started the world’s first Facebook marketing agency, which led me to start my 5th startup in 2009, known as Shiny Ads, to help the world’s top digital publishers better monetize premium ad buys. Shiny Ads was later acquired by Rubicon Project, based in LA, in 2014.
Once my team and I joined Rubicon Project after they acquired ShinyAds, I realized that enterprises were becoming very lean and had done away with most supporting staff. In their place, the employees had been saddled with a lot of applications. But these applications turned each employee into their own admin and caused them to not work on their real job during most of the day. Employees were feeling overworked and that they couldn’t properly finish their real jobs. And so, Zoom.ai was born.
Who can use Zoom.ai’s intelligent assistant? Is the technology better for personal use or can it be used as a PMO for a team?
Anyone can use the Zoom.ai assistant. From individuals to entire teams, we help any enterprise employee work better. Ideally, your entire team will be using Zoom.ai, which makes the experience more personalized and seamless.
For example, when booking meetings across teams or individuals in your enterprise, the intelligent backend reviews all participant’s calendars and can choose a time that works for all attendees without the annoying meeting back and forth that we have all become used to.
What kind of tasks can the assistant help with?
The Zoom.ai assistant can automate your entire workflow. From meeting scheduling, transcribing calls, CRM, information and knowledge management and more. Basically, what we could consider the least fun parts of your job, the repetitive boring, administrative work.
Our target is the knowledge worker at today’s enterprise. This space is ripe for shaking up, and we are constantly looking at all the small, lower-value tasks that take up so much of the workday, and how we can intelligently automate them.
How can Zoom.ai’s technology ease labor and costs, affect productivity?
We live in an increasingly distracted society, and the average employee is not as productive as they could be. With so many apps, and juggling tasks between higher quality work, employees are becoming ineffective. It takes on average 20 minutes to book a meeting with 6-8 people via back and forth email exchange. Employees spend 19% of the workday (that’s one day a week!) searching and gathering information. HBR speaks to how as a result of this culture, employees tackle every other task intermittently in 30 – 120-second intervals. It’s a recipe for constant distraction and reduced efficiency.
That’s why we’ve sought to automate tasks like coordinating meeting time so employees can spend less time in their inbox and more time building relationships, and delivering value to your clients.
We save an average knowledge worker 10+ hours a month — a 14% average of monthly productivity gained. If we put that into dollars, it’s $16,279 corporate annual savings from a $100,000 salaried employee and an $81,395,000 total corporate annual savings for 5,000 active employees.
What is the top misconception that people have about bots?
Zoom.ai is an automated executive assistant; chat is merely the UI for how commands are given.
How does Zoom.ai’s assistant integrate with other enterprise technology?
We all know that the introduction of new technology can be a burden for not only IT, but the entire enterprise. With Zoom.ai, we’ve removed that friction entirely. The magic of the Zoom.ai setup allows employees to securely access their company’s entire technology stack and data via chat quickly and naturally.
Chat enables employees to transcribe, schedule, and prepare calls for meetings by researching who will be on the call, searching for information through the entire tech stack, and even generating documents from templates.
We’d like to know your thoughts on the future of intelligent assistants?
While the workplace AI revolution is still in its early stages, it has already made some impressive progress in moving grunt work off our plate.
Intelligent assistants walk among us and are already helping us to become more human. Using workplace AI to automate menial tasks has advanced rapidly. Just a few years ago, Microsoft launched a meeting scheduling bot that secretly had a hidden team of humans checking schedules. Now, that bot is advanced enough to check on its own and starts when CC’d in an email. And even this process is quickly becoming outdated with the rise of the new generation of AI automated assistants.
While a solution like Zoom.ai is helping you become more productive, the ultimate gain is not in productivity or dollars — but in how the technology can help us become more collaborative, empathetic and creative. As AI bot technology develops, it will both become much better at figuring out human meaning and the little unpredictable details that can arise from and throw a wrench in even simple tasks, and at the same time grow immensely in scale.
What kind of data does one need to feed the bot? How personalized is the experience?
Our automated assistant is entirely conversational and gathers data from each singular interaction and connected corporate accounts. Thanks to our intelligent backend, your assistant is increasingly able to offer better and more customized help. That data enables Zoom.ai to understand people’s likes and dislikes, often better than a real person can.
Ultimately, data is used to predict an employee’s behavior and “fill in the gaps” during a conversation. The AI mimics a great coworker or assistant who understands you well – and has some funny anecdotes too. This makes our user experience as frictionless and natural as possible.
How does the Zoom.ai assistant prioritize what makes it to morning briefings?
Zoom.ai syncs with your calendar and connected corporate accounts, and each morning pulls together a quick snapshot of your day. Your assistant also updates you on the weather and what other tasks it’s currently working on getting.
Before each meeting, your Zoom.ai assistant will notify you so you never miss an important engagement.
What measures have been taken to ensure the assistant maintains privacy while conducting tasks?
We’ve put a premium on security and have built the Zoom.ai solution with a few touch points as possible, with minimal data import from your connected accounts. All your sensitive data is encrypted using AES 256, we have regular penetration testing and we do not store any of your, or your company’s usernames and passwords. We’re currently working towards becoming 100% GDPR compliant as well.
What kind of decisions can the assistant make, or help a user make?
We handle tasks that can be automated, so people can focus on higher-level work. When people’s days are less cluttered by menial tasks, they have more space to brainstorm together, to collaborate, and to work better as a team. Zoom.ai helps employees offload and automate everyday tasks, including searching for files, scheduling meetings, generating documents, and much more.
We’re announcing a new CRM task-automation suite that takes care of about 80% of common menial tasks that salespeople need to accomplish, but that ultimately take away from their real job of selling.
What is your suggestion for others looking to build similar solutions? What would you like to see change in the community currently?
Since we’re a pioneer in this industry, we’ve had to create a base understanding of what a successful conversational experience looks like without referring to any previous examples. Due to this, we’ve had to make our automated assistant behave more like a human.
Our Conversational User Interface (CUI) uses human influence; built to function the way human thinking does. Our CUIs are designed to mimic human understanding, interaction, and responses. We really wanted our CUIs to feel like personal assistants, and to interact with our users in a way that feels like natural human conversation. That’s why our CUIs chat with users on their chosen platform, whether it’s Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Chat, Slack, SMS, Skype, and more.
Thank you, Roy! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.