Zoom opens up to all developers with the aim of becoming the platform of choice for hybrid work

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez June 22, 2022 Audio mode
Summary:
Zoom Apps launched a year ago with developer partners able to build apps directly within the Zoom client. Now Zoom has launched its Apps SDK to all developers, with the aim of bringing more types of work into the Zoom environment.

virtual meeting
(Pixabay)

This week Zoom is once again making clear that it wants to become the platform of choice for hybrid work, by announcing the general availability of its Zoom Apps SDK, which will allow all developers to integrate and build apps directly within the collaboration vendor’s client. 

The company launched Zoom Apps one year ago, with a limited number of developer partners, which created over 100 apps and games within the company’s collaboration platform - including the likes of DocuSign, Zendesk, Fathom and Warmly. 

Zoom’s ambition is to embed itself directly into companies’ workflows, so that if you need to collaborate digitally across a piece of work in your corporate environment, then you do that within the Zoom platform. 

The assumption being that people will rely on voice and video services to do most of their collaboration work. 

Opportunities for developers

By opening up its platform to all developers, Zoom is hoping that it will create a center of gravity around its collaboration capabilities, whereby it ‘makes sense’ to integrate with Zoom if that’s where most people are communicating to get work done. 

Commenting on the announcement, Brendan Ittelson, Chief Technology Officer at Zoom, said: 

To meet customer expectations, organizations continue to look for ways to evolve their businesses and scale workflows, which leads to an increased need for developers to have access to develop innovative app capabilities and features.

With the launch of the Zoom Apps SDK, the Zoom Developer Platform continues to expand and offer developers new ways to incorporate video communications and collaboration into their creations, transforming business workflows forever.

For an example of how the Zoom Apps SDK has been used by customer service vendor Zendesk, and to highlight how it is being integrated into workflows, Zendesk has built an integration that allows users to: 

  • schedule a Zoom meeting from a Zendesk Support Ticket
  • launch a Zoom meeting from a Zendesk Support Ticket

  • have Zoom meeting recordings information posted as private comments on Zendesk Support tickets when a session ends

  • have Zoom recordings viewed from within the Zendesk browser

Zoom Apps SDK is a JavaScript SDK that provides access to client features, such as setting the Virtual Background while also providing the app context for the interaction. It uses a method to get the meeting context, with identifiers for the user and the meeting. These identifiers can be used with a comprehensive set of API endpoints from the Zoom Developer Platform, including REST APIs and Webhooks. 

A set of reference apps have been published to GitHub under the OSD-compliant MIT Open Source Licence to provide developers a quick start guide to building a Zoom App. The basic reference app is a web application with OAuth to customize the Virtual Background. For more information developers can find Zoom’s documentation, here

Zoom made a number of key product updates towards the end of last year, which tie directly into its ambitions to embed itself across company workflows and support enhanced digital collaboration across the enterprise. These include Zoom Whiteboard, which allows users to interact with a ‘digital whiteboard’ whilst working on tasks, and Zoom Continuous Collaboration, which allows users to share files, recordings and chats. 

And with Zoom’s current reach and user numbers, the opportunity for partners is to get their applications in front of people where they are getting work done. As CEO of Fathom, Richard White, notes: 

Not only is the opportunity to build on the Zoom Apps SDK massive, but the Zoom App Marketplace is a great way to get our app in front of new customers. It’s also really amazing how accessible the Zoom team is to app developers like ourselves. The bet to build exclusively on Zoom was a big one, but I’m so glad that we did.

My take

From an end user perspective, there’s two sides to this. On the one hand (if Zoom’s ambitions are realized), users will get access to integrations for the apps that they use everyday at work within the Zoom client, so that they can collaborate around the work that they do. On the other hand, developers will have the opportunity to build upon the Zoom experience with features and add-ons that may prove useful to end users that utilize Zoom as their collaboration platform of choice. 

But from Zoom’s perspective, they key is:

  1. being available for use at every point of the workflow journey, no matter where work is getting done. If a user needs to collaborate around a piece of work, Zoom is available to use there and then

  2. opening up its platform to developers that may be able to enhance the collaboration experience for users in niche areas that may not make sense for it to invest in development in itself

By fostering a developer community around its collaboration experience, Zoom is hoping that it can take advantage of network effects that boot its reach across the enterprise. 

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