Zoom plans to gear up hiring in India through 2022, says Sameer Raje

SAMEER RAJE, GM & Head of India & SAARC, Zoom Video Communications Inc., talks of the brand’s journey, the tech centre coming up in Chennai and more hiring as part of Zoom’s expansion plans in India

Srabana LahiriUpdated: Monday, July 04, 2022, 11:53 AM IST
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Sameer Raje, GM & Head of India & SAARC, Zoom Video Communications Inc. | File

Where does India stand in the pecking order of markets for Zoom globally? Please take us through Zoom’s journey in India so far, and how it has fared in terms of business and revenue growth?

India is a strategically important market for Zoom as demonstrated by Zoom’s continued efforts in India. It has helped businesses to keep moving forward through the pandemic and continues to roll out new features and products to help workplaces adjust as we usher into a new world order that is here to stay.

In India, we are focusing on businesses, helping them with our portfolio of communication products and services, to realise the role of collaboration in a hybrid work model and the many benefits it brings to them. We are already working with large enterprises including top banking and financial companies in the country. We are also collaborating with start-ups and developers and digital natives to integrate Zoom’s platform into their applications.

In addition, we are expanding our partner ecosystem, collaborating with partners such as Tata Tele Services and Savex Technologies. The primary reason that we have been able to pace our growth in India, is because we are deeply driven by our customer requirements, and we have evolved consistently and quickly to service their changing requirements. Our brand has even become a verb over the last couple of years, with a meaning all its own.

You recently announced Zoom’s second Tech Centre in India at Chennai. What kind of investments are going into R&D of new products? What are some of the current talking points there?

We announced the setting up of a technology centre in Chennai as part of Zoom’s expansion plans in India. In addition to the two data centres in Mumbai and Hyderabad, the Chennai technology centre will supplement the existing technology centre in Bangalore and play an important role in innovation.

The focus of the technology centre will be on R&D of new products including Zoom Contact Centre and cutting-edge technologies to build a communications platform that will mimic real-life immersive experiences for users, as businesses around the world shift to a hybrid format.

Zoom’s global engineering teams based at the company’s San Jose, California headquarters will lead the Chennai facility. We also plan to gear up hiring in India through 2022, tapping India’s exceptional talent pool.

What are the new innovations at Zoom for business and education? How are you integrating technology like AI or AR/VR in video communication?

We have launched a number of exciting updates and new features to streamline the flow of meetings, provide additional ways to catch up with co-workers, reduce friction in the hybrid workspace, and improve user security and privacy.

Some of our recent updates include Zoom IQ for sales, gesture recognition, Zoom whiteboard, avatars and video messaging for Zoom chat. We also work with schools and universities around the world and their inputs have allowed us to develop features that meet the unique needs of educators and help them provide a more dynamic experience for all learners.

Our latest features include save gallery view order, focus mode to reduce distractions, advanced polling and quizzing to make class time interactive and share audio in breakout rooms. Besides, we have expanded our polling capabilities to include eight different question types along with the ability to add images.

Meanwhile, our advancements in artificial intelligence will lead to a substantially higher level of inclusivity and opportunity. For example, noise suppression is an automatic feature that reduces background noise, like a dog bark or child’s cry, for a distraction-free audio experience during meetings. Similarly, Zoom’s virtual backgrounds are an AI-powered feature that allow users to blur or replace their background for increased privacy and meeting focus.

Tell us about the efforts that go into enabling privacy and security in Zoom calls and some of the challenges faced by the company.

We deploy robust security protections like end-to-end encryption, intuitive meeting controls, and a bug bounty programme, and we’re continually looking at new ways to enhance data safety. We benchmark our security against industry-leading external frameworks, such as Building Security in Maturity Model (BSIMM) and the Secure Development Lifecycle (SDLC) process.

Zoom strives to be a platform built on trust — trust between users, trust in online interactions, and trust in our services. Multiple encryption options and identity verification help build the foundation for that trust, while recent innovations such as automatic updates in the Zoom client help users to receive important security fixes and other features.

What are some best use cases of Zoom – locally and globally?

TaskHuman, an instant video chat app, used Zoom’s Video software development kit (SDK) to enable powerful video-based human connection between its users and experienced wellness coaches. In the healthcare industry, globally we are working with organizations like Moffitt Cancer Center, CrowdOptic and The Dorm. During the pandemic, La Salle-Ramon Llull University Campus Barcelona deployed 60 smart classrooms on campus, using Zoom Rooms to create an integrated and dynamic teaching and learning experience.

Zoom also helps digital natives and start-ups grow their businesses through platform integrations and SDKs. Australia omnichannel platform, Brauz, in collaboration with Zoom, ushered in a new age of borderless shopping with interactive experiences.

LingoAce, a Singapore-headquartered global education technology company and leading Mandarin Chinese language learning platform, has also leveraged Zoom’s video technology to bring customers more stable classroom experiences.

In India, companies like Shyft and StepOne are leveraging Zoom in the healthcare sector. IIT/IIITs, IIMs and various other prestigious higher education institutions in India use Zoom. The platform has also been working with various branches of the Government in India - both Central and State. The COWIN Conclave 2021 organised by the National Health Authority and addressed by PM Narendra Modi was held entirely on Zoom.

What lies ahead for the Everywhere Workforce? Going forward, what are your main goals or targets for Zoom India?

The workforce now wants greater flexibility in terms of how they use their time and where they work. They want to take charge, leading to a new era of work which is defined by employees’ ability to do their best work from anywhere. Every company’s own business model, unique culture and employee structure will determine how they proceed in this era of work transformation.

Modern working arrangements that accommodate the increasingly dispersed global employees – coupled with tools, resources, and principles to guide our new work reality – will be crucial. Talent attraction and retention will become increasingly important.

The combination of the power of our platform, together with innovators all over the world, will enable new ways to incorporate video communications and collaboration into their creations. This will drive adoption of Zoom’s core technology.

With consumers and companies exploring the outcomes of innovation in the Zoom App Marketplace, new and creative ways will emerge to move the world forward. What began a decade ago as an app is today a platform for an extraordinary new era of ingenuity, inspiring not just the next big thing, but millions of next big things.

Finally, tell us about Sameer Raje, the person beyond the realm of work. What are your big learnings through your career at IT majors such as Cisco, Microsoft and IBM and other companies?

I have been associated with the world of collaboration since its inception in India and have witnessed various spectacular innovations in a career of over 25 years - from organizations not having any idea about what audio-based collaboration was in the ’90s to video collaboration now becoming a part of daily routine, it has been quite a phenomenal journey.

Joining Zoom offered me a great opportunity that builds upon my experiences, skills and knowledge. I have had the opportunity of driving country-specific strategic initiatives, owning key relationships and building cross-functional teams. Today, Zoom in India has a huge customer base, supported by a thriving partner ecosystem, spanning large enterprises and SMBs.

What is one motto or rule that you follow in life?

The key fundamentals of my life are humility, honesty and transparency. They have been my guiding pillars always, and even now as we build and grow Zoom’s team in India. This is also directly reflected in Zoom’s mantra of caring, staying humble, and together delivering happiness to our customers.

A LITTLE ABOUT ZOOM

Zoom is a cloud-based video-conferencing and web-conferencing platform that was launched on January 15, 2013 at San Jose, California by Eric Yuan, its Founder and CEO.

According to technographic data company Slintel, Zoom has 5.51% market-share in the web and video conferencing category globally, and competes against G Suite (84.95%), Wire (1.99%), Skype (1.57%). Zoom was one of the fastest growing apps of the pandemic, and generated $4 billion revenue globally in 2021, a 53% increase over the previous year

India is Zoom’s largest market in terms of mobile downloads: with the highest new and all-time installs in Q2 2021, according to data from Sensor Tower. Zoom recorded approximately 28.4 million installs across India’s app store and Google Play marketplaces in Q2 2021, up 106% from 13.8 million in Q1 2021, as per the market data.

This was in contrast to the global trend, where the app's worldwide installs declined 14% to a little more than 93 million downloads in Q2 2021. In India, Zoom has two data centres situated in Mumbai and Hyderabad, and a tech centre in Bangalore. Another tech centre is coming up at Chennai.

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