If there’s one business trend that’s inescapable this year, it’s the rise of video conferencing. With most of the country (and the world) working from home, it’s the only feasible way to have meetings for most companies.
Know What You Need
There is no single best video conference platform, of course. The best choice for your company depends on your preferences (and to some degree, your customers’ preferences).
Think about what you need from your video conference platform. Key points to consider:
- Who needs it? How many participants do you anticipate in video conferences? Are they all internal, or will customers and vendors be included?
- How will you use it? This helps define which features you need. Screen-sharing, virtual whiteboards, and meeting recording may be vital tools for some companies, but overkill for others. You want to avoid paying for functionality you’ll never use.
- Is it mobile-friendly? This is key if you have participants joining from job sites. Or, in the future, people who might use it from the road.
- How much? What does it cost and how are fees structured? Fees can vary. Do a true apples-to-apples comparison by accounting for month-to-month vs. annual fees, per-user fees that may apply, etc. Remember: companies that don’t advertise a free trial may still allow a short demo period to take it for a test drive if you ask.
- Can it scale? The platform you choose needs to meet your expected future needs.
The Big Hitters
There is no shortage of companies offering video conferencing solutions at no- to low-cost. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular platforms:
Zoom – This platform has a limited free plan; tiered plans that offer larger meetings and advanced tools start as low as $14.99/month. Even the free plan comes with options such as whiteboarding and breakout rooms. Media reports have raised concerns about security on this platform, but you can configure your settings pretty easily to avoid them.
Microsoft Teams (previously Skype for Business) – Your company may already have this app if you use certain Office 365 plans; there is also a basic free option. The free option is stripped of many bells and whistles, as paid versions offer more functionality and customization. This is a good choice for companies that are already heavy users of Microsoft products.
GoToMeeting – Known for its simple interface and ease of use, GoToMeeting offers a free 14-day trial. Attendees don’t have to download anything to use it. However, it lacks some advanced features. While you can’t use it for webinars, parent company LogMeIn also offers GoToWebinar, which offers a free, 7-day trial period.
Cisco Webex Meetings – Webex offers a free plan and three paid plans (starting at $13.50) for small to large companies. It’s recently dropped its prices and expanded options. Even basic plans offer options such as mobile screen sharing, unlimited number of meetings, and unlimited meeting length. Some options, such as the “call me” feature, cost extra.
It’s never been more important to have an effective way to meet remotely with employees, customers, and vendors – a trend likely to long outlive the immediate impacts of COVID-19. Finding a solution that best fits your needs now can make this transition time easier and set your company up for continued success.