Editor's note: This post was updated on March 19, 2020, to include updated information about the platforms mentioned in this article.
Whether you're on the road, working from home, or connecting offices around the world, the need to communicate with others has never been greater. Among the best ways to do so is by using one of the video conferencing platforms on the market today.
You can reduce meeting-associated travel costs by using video conferencing technology to hold virtual meetings with off-site employees, instead of flying everyone to the same location.
Video collaboration increases productivity by reducing misunderstandings that often happen with audio-only calls or email communications where people can’t see each other face-to-face, make eye contact and respond to body language cues.
For companies with a geographically dispersed workforce or a high percentage of teleworking employees, video conferencing applications can reinforce co-worker relationships and help everyone feel part of the team regardless of location, which engenders loyalty and improves performance.
But, these platforms aren't all created equal. So, how do you choose which one to use?
Choosing the Right Video Chat Software
Briefly, here are some of the major players in video conferencing and what each of them brings to the table:
- Skype for Business was the first major player in video conferencing and has recently made a sweeping transition to Microsoft Teams. The application was originally designed for one-to-one communication, but the refreshed Microsoft Teams is a natural choice for enterprise companies that subscribe to Microsoft 365 because of built-in features that work natively with apps like Word, Excel and others.
- Zoom. For group video calls scheduled in advance, Zoom could be your best bet. Install the application for free and you can have a call with up to 100 people for up to 40 minutes. If you do a paid plan, calls can include as many as 1,000 participants, unlimited cloud storage, a dedicated success manager and more. As is the standard today, Zoom also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android.
- Cisco Webex is, much like Microsoft Teams, a suitable choice for large companies that have a need to connect hundreds, even thousands of people. Webex can connect as many as 100,000 participants, who can connect via mobile devices using the Webex app. What's more, Webex makes it as simple as a single touch to join meetings; no dial-in number required.
- Pexip competes with the best of them, offering its video conferencing platform both as-a-service and as a self-hosted enterprise software application either on in the cloud or on-premise; the latter option also comes with an analytics dashboard for tracking things like video usage. What's unique to Pexip is its distributed architecture, which allows users to connect to the nearest server. The result is the highest quality audio and video, with the lowest latency.
- BlueJeans boasts that users can join meetings in as little as 6 seconds, experiencing high-quality video and clear audio, powered by Dolby Voice®. This platform prides itself on hosting smart meetings, which rely on AI and voice recognition partners to automate tasks. Much like others in the space, BlueJeans is a scalable solution for organizations of all sizes and integrates with other applications, including Slack.
- Slack started as a team chat app but added voice and video calling to the desktop application about a year ago. Video chats on Slack can be initiated directly from a text chat window making it perfect for spur-of-the-moment video conferencing among team members. Up to 15 people can join a call and you can share reactions in real-time with Slack’s emoji library.
Using Video Conferencing Software to Improve Communication
Today, people are more connected than ever; and in some sense, more disconnected too.
Some travel often or work from home, and some organizations have offices all around the world. The number of IoT devices has increased dramatically, which has enabled a mobile workforce. All said, you simply don't have to be face-to-face to communicate and keep up with your co-workers.
Video conferencing is second best only to being in person. Being able to see your co-workers by video conference improves communication and collaboration more than a regular audio call. The ability to share your screen, annotate and iterate material in real time adds to the quality of the interaction, even in spite of distance.
The platforms listed in this article offer features, integrations and solutions that can work in a variety of scenarios - but, ultimately, your organization has specific needs and workflows. Based on that criteria, some of these platforms will make more sense than others.
The final piece of the video-conferencing puzzle is making sure you have the right technology to support remote collaboration. Once you’ve selected the video conferencing application that best meets your needs, this guide can help you select the right technology for your remote and local collaboration needs.