There are many important reasons your business should consider making videoconferencing a top method for communication: It can increase productivity, include remote workers––a group that has expanded by 159% since 2005––and cut costs associated with business travel.
And––now that the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) is a looming threat, shutting down offices, halting travel schedules, and disrupting regular work routines––videoconferencing offers a solution to cancelled in-person meetings, as well as a safe way to prevent the spread of a lethal disease. As with any technology, it’s critical that managers lead the way in making videoconferencing a part of company culture, and foster an environment of participation.
SEE: Telecommuting policy (TechRepublic Premium)
Here are five of the top video conferencing services that your company can choose from.
LogMeIn’s web conferencing service GoToMeeting offers audio and video conferencing, screen sharing, and is mobile friendly for Android and iOS––ideal for employees who are on the go. It offers a range of audio and video settings, and chat features. GoToMeeting is also budget-friendly, with standard features at $14/month, or $12/month annually.
The platform can hold up to 150 team members––or, for $19/month, your company can opt for the Business plan tier, which will expand the range to 250 participants. This version also features drawing tools, mouse sharing, and other administrative tools. Large businesses can choose the Enterprise plan, which can connect up to 3,000 people.
SEE: How to secure your zoom conference line from hackers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
2. Zoom Meetings
Another mobile-and-desktop platform for videoconferencing is Zoom Meetings, which offers an easy, scalable solution for setting up HD video and audio.
Enterprises can include 1,000 participants––and up to 49 screens––on this platform simultaneously. Additionally, since these meetings can be saved to the cloud, they can be accessed later on. Zoom is also great for collaboration, offering participants the option to share screens and collaborate on notes, which can be easily shared and searched. The meeting history also extends back 10 years. For the security-conscious, there’s a 256-bit TLS encryption for both meetings and shared files.
There are different versions of Zoom. The free option can include 100 people for 40 minutes. If you pay $14.99/month, you can get additional features for management. And $19.99 will buy your business a superior package.
Another cloud-based video conferencing service is BlueJeans. It has limited features, but offers high-quality streaming. It offers three options for services, as well as a 30-day free trial––but no free version. Here they are:
Me: Annually, $9.99/month per user for up to 50 attendees, which can connect from computers, iOS or Android devices and include dial-in numbers. Also includes free phone audio in 40 countries.
My Team: Annually, $13.99/month per host, with the addition of 10 hours of cloud meeting recordings, command center dashboard for up to 75 participants.
My Company: This option, which is quoted to companies directly, adds connection “H.323//SIP room systems, room system calendar support and up to 150 participants.”
4. Intermedia AnyMeeting
Part of Intermedia Unite, a platform that joins video conferencing, chat, and screen-sharing into a “cloud-based service that also includes VOIP capabilities and an enterprise-grade PBX system,” AnyMeeting also has simpler Lite and Pro plans for roughly $10/month––which includes 10 participants. These plans include conferencing features and offer participants a way to customize meeting URLs, schedule recurring meetings, and use tools from Google, Slack, and other platforms.
End-to-end encryption and HIPPA features are included in AnyMeeting. The Pro plan can work for up 30 participants, and includes the ability to record and transcribe meetings and unlimited cloud storage of meetings.
5. Cisco Webex
A free version of Cisco Webex is a great option––up to three users, and 50 participants for 40 minutes––including HD video, screen-sharing, and recording features. Paid plans include:
Starter: $13.50/host per month, 50 attendees
Plus: $17.95/month, 100 attendees
Business: $26.95/month, with a five-license minimum, for up to 200 attendees
You get additional cloud storage and management features in the first two tiers. If you want single sign-on and support for Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory, go with the Business plan.
SEE: Managing remote workers: A business leader’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)