Zoom: From pandemic upstart to hybrid work giant

Zoom's head office in San Francisco with a plane right above it
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Zoom has unveiled a suite of new services for hybrid work environments as it continues its transformation from video conferencing platform to tech behemoth.

The firm made multiple announcements at its annual Zoomtopia conference on Monday, with new tools for cyber security, collaboration and application building.

Zoom's new focus is the modern workforce and the tools needed to supplement a mix of in-office and remote work. Zoomtopia announcements include a 'Video Engagement Centre', a digital canvas for asynchronous collaboration, a live translation and transcription services, and a partnership with Facebook-owned Oculus for 'Horizon Workrooms'.

The company also announced a new hot-desking service, which will be made available later in the year. This will be an interactive map that allows employees to reserve desks and space in the physical office - including Zoom Rooms and Zoom Phones.

The rise of Zoom has undoubtedly been aided by the pandemic, with few having heard of the video conferencing service at the beginning of 2020. However, by March, as COVID spread and lockdown measures began to be enforced, it had become a household name and the go-to service for business and pleasure.

It wasn't all great initially, however. Zoom had something of a PR disaster over its security policies, many of which were due to growing so big so quickly, according to the firm's CEO said. Encryption standards were an issue for a number of top companies, such as Google and even the country of Taiwan. Meeting ID numbers were easy to spot and led to the trend of 'Zoom bombing' which disrupted virtual trials and meetings around the world.

The firm pledged to improve its security and with every feature update since it has strengthened the service. During Monday's Zoomtopia announcements, it further bolstered its encryption protocols with a 'Bring Your Own Key' (BYOK) offering. This will start as a beta programme later in the year and was launched in tandem with an extension to end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for Zoom Phone.


Visualisation in the virtual reality age

A focus on manufacturing and engineering


Despite concerns surrounding the company, by the summer of 2020, Zoom recorded 355% growth in daily active users and arguably established itself as the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic. A number of analysts had suggested that its success was too closely tied to lockdowns and that it would fall with the roll out of the vaccine - much like the House Party app which Epic has recently killed off.

However, Zoom has continued to grow into 2021; the firm made its first billion-dollar acquisition with Five9 in July and it's services are still being widely used by remote workers. What's more, the company recently pushed out more hardware to improve in-office video connections - including physical desk phones that make video calls.

It seems Zoom is not content with being the breakout star of the coronavirus, as it now aims to be the go-to company for the future of hybrid work.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.