As the spread of coronavirus continues throughout the world, the number of companies who are now working remotely has increased substantially.
As a result, the use of video conferencing platforms has also increased to allow colleagues to communicate and conduct virtual meetings.
It is important that companies choose the most suitable video conferencing platform for their needs so that they can communicate efficiently.
Here are our top five video conferencing platforms (in no particular order), taking into account the price and some of the pros and cons.
Zoom is one of the most popular videoconferencing apps available and is a great way to keep in touch with others, whether this is professionally or personally. Virtual meetings are quick and easy to set up and are available on desktop and mobile devices.
Zoom offers free and paid plans. The free option allows users to organise 1 to 1 or group meetings and has a lot of useful features, including screen sharing. However, if your meeting has more than 3 participants, there is a time limit of 40 minutes.
With an upgraded plan, businesses can choose either the ‘Pro’, ‘Business’ or ‘Enterprise option’, ranging from £11.99 per month up to £15.99 per month. These options allow more participants per meeting, increased duration per meeting and recordings.
Security is also built-in, using the AES 256-bit encryption for both meetings and shared files. However, Zoom has recently faced negative publicity regarding their security, with users questioning how it worked and what data was collected.
2. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration platform that allows businesses to chat privately or in groups and connect face-to-face through the use of HD audio and video. These meetings can host up to 250 people with no time limit. There are also some interesting features such as the ability to blur backgrounds.
Teams allows you to store all conversations and files in the one place, as well as file editing and sharing. It also integrates with Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Anyone can get access to the free version of Teams by signing up using a personal email address. However, the app requires a paid commercial subscription to Office 365.
Hosted, owned, and developed by the networking giant Cisco, Webex is one of the highest ranked video conferencing platforms available on the market. This video collaboration software can be used for online training, webinars and remote support.
This platform has free and paid versions. The free package includes 1GB of cloud storage, unlimited meetings of unlimited length, screen sharing and the ability to make MP4 recordings. There are three paid packages, ‘Starter’ (£11.25 per month), ‘Plus’ (£14.85 per month) and ‘Business’ (£22.50 per month). The paid options have all the free features plus variations in cloud storage, number of participants per meeting and other additional features.
Due to the recent pandemic, Webex have extended their free version features from 50 to 100 participants and also removed the 40-minute limit on meetings.
Webex is particularly useful for businesses that have security concerns and therefore it may be a safer option than using Zoom. Cisco Webex’s security features include Transport Layer Security (TLS), third-party accreditations, encryption, firewall compatibility, single sign-on and secure scheduling options.
4. Google Meet
Google Meet (previously known as Google Hangouts Meet) is part of the G Suite office platform that provides free cloud-powered conferencing.
This platform allows users to send chat messages to video meeting participants and screen sharing.
Also, until September 20, 2020, G Suite customers have free access to advanced Google Meet video conference features, which includes up to 250 participants per meeting, live streaming and recording.
This platform is aimed specifically at businesses and can cater for a large number of users at once. It also provides a web app which means there is no software to download. The only thing you will need to get started with Google Meet is a Gmail account.
ezTalks is an online video conferencing provider that not only provides HD video conferencing but also some other useful features such as screen sharing, content sharing, remote control and an interactive whiteboard.
There is a free option associated with this platform, although this is quite limited with a 10 minute limit on group meetings and only being able to host up to two participants. However, there are paid options, ranging from the ‘Standard’ option ($10 per month), ‘Pro’ option ($30 per month) and the ‘Business’ option ($50 per month). The differences between each of these options are the variations in the number of participants and online storage space.
Written by Michelle Young