As businesses find their ways in the current environment – either remote or back in the office, it is evident that video conferencing apps became an essential tool to engage in meetings, calls, and appointments.
But in the midst of so many alternatives available on the web, both free and paid (average cost from $10 to $18 per user per month), it can be challenging to evaluate and decide which solution is the most appropriate to your type of business.
With that in mind, we have put together a few options and suggestions that may be worth exploring to figure out what could work best for your business.
Most people hadn’t even heard of this application two months ago, and it has now reached over 300 million daily meeting participants. If you are looking for a well-engineered solution that is user-friendly, Zoom is one of the best performing and easiest to use applications for synchronous video chatting with large groups of people. The free account enables up to 100 participants. Even though it has faced a long list of problems, mainly due to scaling up much more quickly than it ever could have hoped or planned, the company is working diligently to protect its users, and at the moment, those ease of use qualities trump many other concerns.
It is also available for people to sign up for free. This is a good solution with lots of security and integration into Office Suite. If you have an O365 paid subscription, then this is part of the bundle. It is even possible to turn on the audio dial-in conferencing but typically this is extra cost like any audio conference system. This solution scales from small to larger organizations and works well. It is a very powerful robust tool although it takes a little more time to learn, set up, and use. Keep in mind that Microsoft has higher requirements for security standards so if your business is in health care, legal this could be a better solution.
Google Hangouts/Google Duo
Another mainstream application that is available to the masses to use. Whether you have a G-Suite account (which is the paid version of Gmail) or a regular Gmail account (log into meet.google.com), it is pretty simple to get set up and start using. With Google meet the security is not as tight by default and now it allows up to 250 participants in a call. With Duo, you have tighter security but it is limited to up to 12 people in a call.
It has been around since 1995 and probably the favorite solution of privacy-conscious groups like health care, IT, and financial services and it has also been very popular among universities right now. In addition to supporting Windows, Mac, and Linux, WebEx has mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry, and it integrates with most Office and Office-like applications. One notable differentiator for WebEx is its ability to stream media from its servers to all participants. They are also offering free signup with an email address at the moment, signing up for free gives you a 14-day trial of WebEx Premium 25, followed by a perpetual license to the free basic service.
This is another robust solution that has been around for a long time and can offer stronger security. It offers a 30-day free trial to evaluate whether the service will work well for you. If you’re looking for a free solution for a small group, the closest that Citrix offers is Podio Lite, which is a free five-employee, five-external-user version of the online work platform Podio. However, at the end of the day, Podio and WebEx offer most of the same features and benefits, with somewhat different pricing models: Podio prices per employee, and WebEx prices per organizer.
It is an open-source video conferencing platform that is freely available to the community to use and develop with. It includes many features and they are constantly adding more. You can live stream your conference to YouTube and access the recording there afterward. It also talks heavily about security. It integrates with most browsers but works best with Chrome. No client or download is needed.
There are many other video conferencing alternatives available for just about any situation or need. When choosing a video conferencing tool for your business, think about who is your normal audience. If you are working or talking within the legal, financial, healthcare, or even child care areas, it might be a good idea to be more safety/security conscious with a video conferencing solution. If you want to look at more secure types of solutions, you can especially check for government regulations or HIPAA (for healthcare), those systems and those environments typically have a little more restrictions on and controls for security.
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