Which is the best video conferencing solution for your company?

As workforces become more distributed and global collaboration becomes the norm for big businesses, the ability to host remote team meetings easily and effectively is more important than ever. Fortunately, there are a number of great software solutions on the market that provide tools for video conferencing and collaboration.

Three of the most popular video conferencing solutions are Skype, WebEx, and GoToMeeting. Here, we’ve compared the features and drawbacks of each program to help customers decide which solution is right for them:

Skype for Business: Advantages and Disadvantages

Skype for Business is enterprise software that combines the features and interface of the consumer software Skype with the capabilities of Microsoft Lync. Microsoft released Skype for Business as a replacement for Microsoft Office Communicator and Microsoft Lync in 2015.

How it Works. Skype for Business looks and feels like the consumer version of Skype, but it includes features that make it better suited for enterprises. For example, while the maximum number of conference call attendees with Skype is 25, Skype for Business raises the limit to 250—making the platform a viable option for video conferencing, virtual meetings for large corporations, presentations, and live webinars. Skype for Business does not require all participants to be Skype clients to join the meeting and supports inbound calls from landlines or mobile phones for an extra fee.

Tools for Users. Skype for Business has a variety of convenient features to help companies collaborate in real-time with enhanced, enterprise-level security, call encryption, and authentication. The solution includes built-in IM, the ability to give and take control of the presentation to multiple presenters, easy screen sharing, an integrated whiteboard, and a PowerPoint upload feature which enables interactive tools such as annotation, highlighting, and a laser pointer. Skype for business is compatible with multiple devices and operating systems: PC/Mac, iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

Cost. Skype for Business has a variety of pricing plans ranging from $5.00 per user/month to $35.00 per user/month for the full Office 365 Enterprise E5 plan, which unlocks a host of additional features discussed below. Which plan is best suited for you, and your final cost, will depend on how many employees need access to the program and what features your company will use. Compared to the other two software solutions, Skype for Business typically ends up being less expensive than GoToMeeting and more expensive than WebEx, but the actual costs will vary by business.

Integration with Other Applications. Since Skype for Business is part of the Microsoft family, it’s designed to integrate fully with the Office 365 Suite. For example, if your office already uses Outlook for scheduling meetings, you can add a link in your Outlook calendar and participants can join the meeting directly from their calendar with one click. With Office 365, users also get additional features, such as extra collaboration tools that allow participants to record meetings, run Q&A’s, take polls, and add attachments. Office 365 clients also enjoy 1TB of cloud storage, anytime IMs, and Skype Meetings, which will broadcast the meeting to up to 10K people.

Ease of Use. Skype for Business feels incredibly familiar to most users, and the company highlights the simplicity of the platform, the ability to join the meeting from a direct URL with one click as well as easy screen sharing and transferring between presenters.

Overall Evaluation. For those who already have the Office 365 Suite and are familiar with the enterprise suite of tools, Skype for Business makes a lot of sense. It is still a useful tool, if less powerful, for businesses that do not use other Microsoft tools, but may be more expensive than comparable solutions.

WebEx Meetings: Advantages and Disadvantages

Cisco’s WebEx Meetings and the forthcoming WebEx Teams are enterprise-level video conferencing and collaboration tools that allow users to meet face-to-face from a desktop, interactive panel, laptop, or mobile device.

How it Works. Much like Skype for Business, WebEx Meetings enables users to host video conferences and collaboration sessions for 8 participants up to 40,000 participants, depending on the pricing plan and add-on services you choose. WebEx Teams is an upcoming app that combines the functionality of Cisco Spark with WebEx Meetings, prioritizing continuous teamwork through direct messaging, whiteboarding, and easy file sharing in addition to the standard video meetings. Both applications can be combined with WebEx Events, WebEx Webcasting, and WebEx Training for large-scale events, trade shows, virtual training sessions, webinars, and more.

Tools for Users. WebEx Meetings and WebEx Teams both allow users to host small to large-scale video meetings from any device with full, 256-bit, end-to-end SSL encryption for web conferencing participants, which is above industry standard. Both applications provide screen sharing capabilities, the ability to join a meeting with one click, and easy integration with other productivity tools. Users can also create breakout rooms with WebEx, which is a cool feature that allows teams to host private meetings within the larger meeting. In addition to these tools, WebEx Teams includes additional features, such as a built-in whiteboard, automatic recording and archiving, an IM tool, and more file sharing and scheduling capabilities.

Cost. Both WebEx Meetings and WebEx Teams have standard pricing plans that range from $19 per host/month, which allows for meetings of up to 8 participants, to $39 per host/month, which allows for meetings of up to 200 participants. In some cases, this pricing could be more competitive than Skype or GoToMeeting, since companies pay per host rather than per user—depending on how many employees need to be able to host meetings in a given month. Cisco also offers an Enterprise package, with more flexible subscription options and a lower per-host cost, for larger companies. Companies must call for pricing for the Enterprise package, which allows for 1,000 participants per meeting.

Integration with Other Applications. The WebEx suite of tools really shines when it comes to integration. While WebEx has its own recording, scheduling, direct messaging, and other productivity tools, it also integrates seamlessly with all of your favorite work applications, including Google Calendars, Microsoft Outlook, Slack, Zoom, Zendesk, Trello, Google Drive, Twitter, and more.

Ease of Use. WebEx Meetings includes productivity tools that make it easy to join a meeting without dialing in, directly from a link. There is also a function that allows users to host or join a meeting through the web app, without having to download. Finally, WebEx gives users the ability to connect from any device and switch between devices without relaunching the meeting.

Overall Evaluation. While WebEx includes mobile-optimization for tablets and smartphones, some users report that the features vary by operating system, particularly the ability to transfer smoothly between devices. Still, overall WebEx provides high-quality video conferencing and collaboration tools for all sizes and kinds of businesses. While WebEx Meetings lacks a few features found in more comprehensive web conferencing software such as Skype for Business and GoToMeeting, the pricing is competitive and the new WebEx Teams update will add much of the functionality it has been missing.

GoToMeeting: Advantages and Disadvantages

Like Skype for Business and WebEx, GoToMeeting is one of the most highly-rated web conferencing solutions on the market, offering crystal clear web audio and an impressive suite of productivity tools.

How it Works. Hosts can start a meeting instantly or schedule a meeting and users can join in seconds from a desktop, mobile device, or in-room conferencing system. GoToMeeting offers both web and dial-in audio using secure encryption to ensure that shared files, screens and other sensitive data goes only to the intended recipients. The platform also supports HD video conferencing with one-click recording; the HDFaces Video Conferencing app shares up to 25 high-definition video feeds per session.

Tools for Users. GoToMeeting has a suite of productivity tools that make the web conferencing solution convenient for users. One-click meetings allow users to meet now or schedule a meeting and launch from a variety of locations including email, calendar invites, and IMs. The new Call Me feature allows businesses to offer a toll-free dial-in option for all attendees—even overseas attendees. Other tools include integrated web audio, screen and file sharing, HD video conferencing, drawing and annotation tools, a personal meeting room, mobile apps, keyboard and mouse sharing, and an active directory that makes it simple to manage users and hosts.

Cost. Like other software solutions, GoToMeeting pricing depends on several factors, including how many meeting participants you need to have, what features you want, and whether you’re billed monthly or annually—there’s a 20% discount if you pay for a year upfront. Generally speaking, GoToMeeting offers three service tiers: Starter, Pro, and Plus. The lowest tier costs $19 per user/month if billed annually ($24 if billed monthly) and allows for up to 10 meeting participants with fairly standard web meeting features. The top tier costs $49 per user/month if billed annually ($59 if billed monthly) and includes all the bells and whistles for up to 100 meeting participants. Also, although GoToMeeting is a little pricier upfront, their cost includes more. Skype for Business and WebEx both charge extra fees for inbound calls and some audio features, which could raise the overall cost for some businesses, such as those that do a lot of international web conferencing.

Integration with Other Applications. In addition to their own suite of tools and their mobile app, GoToMeeting integrates with popular tools that make it easy to stay in touch before and after your meeting. GoToMeeting integrates with Salesforce, Outlook, Trello, Dropbox, Slack, and more.

Ease of Use. GoToMeeting allows users to join instantly with no download from a desktop or mobile device, making web conferencing more accessible in restricted IT environments. The platform also has a convenient feature called the Personal Meeting Room. Users can create a custom meeting link that never changes in order to schedule and attend standing meetings with ease.

Overall Evaluation. GoToMeeting tends to have the best user reviews of the three solutions, and it includes impressive features such as the InRoom Link that make integration into your existing conference room super easy. It is also likely to be the best and most affordable option for companies that do a lot of international business since it doesn’t charge extra for inbound calls. However, some users have pointed out compatibility issues with Mac and difficulties with recording. In addition, the user interface can be cumbersome, with a dropdown menu and a chatroom and webcam that have to be viewed separately. Overall, though, the superior features and high-quality audio and video make GoToMeeting a worthwhile investment.

No matter which video conferencing software you choose, your remote team meetings and collaboration sessions will be broadcast in crystal clear Ultra HD on the Clear Touch Interactive display for business. Our interactive display works with third-party cameras, so your entire team can see and be seen.

Plus, our panels are device and software agnostic, and offer easy, wireless connectivity, so you can use whatever operating system and programs make the most sense for your team. Schedule a live online demo today to see how simple video meetings can be with Clear Touch.

May 2, 2018

Clear Touch Team

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