The story behind Zoom Phone in the Asia Pacific region

Zoom Phone APAC
The Zoom Phone family. Image courtesy Zoom Video Communications, Inc.

Zoom Video Communications, Inc. continues to unveil fresh business initiatives in its quest to support successful hybrid working in Asia Pacific. Following an expansion of its senior leadership team in the region and a new partnership acceleration programme, Zoom’s journey to help companies perform in the new normal includes its voice over IP (VoIP) cloud system – Zoom Phone.

According to analyst reports, a range of businesses make use of such unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solutions, with affordability as one of the key drivers. A Transparency Market Research report said the global market in 2021 was valued at US$44.88 billion, which is expected to grow a CAGR of 15.3% from 2022 to 2031, possibly reaching US$ 161.67 billion by the end of 2031.

At the launch in January 2019, Zoom said Zoom Phone aimed to provide a simple, reliable, secure, and easy to use as the Zoom video solution. A full-featured Cloud Private Branch Exchange (PBX) allows access to a domestic and international Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

Nathan Guy

As of September 2022, a company blog confirmed that more than 4 million Zoom Phone seats had been sold globally with 700,000 licenses in the last quarter – another signal of demand for flexible working solutions in today’s world. In an interview with Disruptive.Asia, Nathan Guy, the APAC Lead for Zoom Phone, explained that “the idea for Zoom Phone first came about in direct response to our customers, who were looking for feature-rich phone functionality to replace legacy systems. With many of our customers already using other platform solutions like Zoom Meetings, we saw a window of opportunity to provide a rich cloud-based telephony solution that works seamlessly with the wider Zoom platform and across any device.”

Zoom Phone for flexible working

“Working seamlessly with the wider Zoom platform, users can easily escalate a Zoom Chat to Zoom Phone and even Zoom Meetings,” he said. “Beyond the Zoom platform, Zoom Phone tightly integrates with top business applications, contact centre partners, and hardware providers, which means that users can make and receive phone calls right within their workflow and stay productive.”

Its centralised management also simplifies administration and includes a variety of reporting, analytics and monitoring tools, he explained. “Most importantly, Zoom Phone is secure and reliable.”

Enterprise customers also have the flexibility to keep their current PSTN service providers following the launch of the Reseller Partner Programme for Zoom Phone Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) last year. This means that customers can enjoy all of the benefits and features of Zoom Phone while keeping their existing service provider contracts, phone numbers, and calling rates with their preferred carrier of record.

“This is because we know that migrating to the cloud is complex and not always an all-in process with a single cloud provider,” said Nathan. “With Zoom Phone BYOC, customers can benefit from an easier migration process, less friction when managing existing contracts and more pricing flexibility in maintaining pre-negotiated call rates.”

Zoom Phone BYOC customers who use enhanced cloud peering to connect to PSTN can also access Zoom Phone Provider Exchange, where they can select the provider of their choice and provision phone numbers directly in the Zoom portal.

“Businesses, schools, and organisations across industries no longer have to settle for a phone solution,” he said. “Zoom Phone has a track record of rapid innovation, capitalising on the established global infrastructure and audio quality of Zoom. With hundreds of features, and more added every month, Zoom Phone’s comprehensive system can empower organisations’ hybrid teams and strategically scale with their business needs.”

APAC regional reception

Nathan said Zoom Phone had been received positively in the region.

“We are enjoying great traction for our Zoom Phone offerings in the region and is one of the fastest-growing cloud products in Zoom. Some of our Zoom Phone customers include National Australia Bank (NAB) and LIXIL Group Corporation.”

“In Q3 of our fiscal year 2022, LIXIL Group Corporation, a Japanese manufacturer and pioneer of building materials and housing equipment, added 10,000 Zoom Phone licences,” he said. “We are also seeing a pick-up in demand for Zoom Phone as part of our Zoom Rooms offering, optimised for hybrid work environments.”

The company has found that flexibility was a top priority for many employees today, which requires employers to make provision for workers to adopt flexible working: whether remote, in-office or hybrid. Workspaces and employees must be equipped with technology that facilitates effective, inclusive, and asynchronous collaboration within hybrid teams.

Maintaining security

Maintaining security and privacy is at the heart of Zoom’s activities, said Nathan.

“We are continually innovating our security capabilities and have implemented data protection and privacy practices across our platform and processes. This includes automated security updates, end-to-end encryption for meetings with hundreds of participants, secure login, administrative controls, and even the ability to customise data centre regions for the routing of real-time meeting traffic.”

 The company recently launched Customer Managed Key (CMK), an advanced security offering designed to help customers address stricter compliance requirements. With CMK, customers can opt to use their own encryption keys to protect certain Zoom assets, such as cloud recordings, voicemails (including Zoom Phone voicemails and recordings), and calendar access tokens.

For Zoom Phone, in particular, the company expanded end-to-end encryption (E2EE) feature to one-on-one Zoom Phone calls between users on the same Zoom account via the Zoom client.

“The upgrade only takes a second and adds an extra layer of privacy to your phone calls occurring over Zoom,” he explained. “Users will also have the option to verify E2EE status by providing a unique security code to one another. Our goal is to make security accessible and easy-to-use for our users while they continue to enjoy a flexible, reliable Zoom experience.”

“Another recent achievement we are proud of is being certified for Common Criteria, an internationally recognised standard for evaluating that an IT product satisfies a defined set of security requirements,” said Nathan. “We are also the first video communications client to have attained this Common Criteria certificate for the Zoom Meeting client version 5.6.6, demonstrating our commitment to our users’ privacy and security in the region and beyond.”

Looking ahead in Asia Pacific

He said, “Zoom Phone is a critical part of Zoom’s business strategy, reflecting both our customer-centric and innovation-focused imperatives to help businesses navigate the changing digital landscape here in Asia Pacific.”

“The region as a whole is undergoing massive transformation, with individuals and organisations alike demanding secure, seamless and connected experiences across hybrid channels,” Nathan said, adding that Zoom Phone capabilities, alongside chat, whiteboard, events, contact centre and more, signalled a continued evolution from a meetings company to an integrated and robust communications platform.

Nathan concluded: “As businesses make the transition to a hybrid world, Zoom is supporting them with an ecosystem – including Zoom Phone – that brings together different communications channels onto a single yet scalable platform.”

Related article: Zoom sets up first Southeast Asia data centre in Singapore

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