The number of businesses relying on remote teams is growing rapidly.
Markus P. Keller, founder and CEO of Microsoft Premier Support Partner, estimates that our future workforce will be made up of 75% of employees working away from the office.
To make that possible, managers have to utilize a wide variety of software tools. Web conferencing software is one of the most fundamental tools for a modern business to communicate and collaborate.
Web conferencing software hosts online meetings using VoIP, video conferencing, instant messaging, and file and screen sharing features. This type of software can enable private online meetings or meetings with hundreds of participants. Teams can use these tools for presentations, webinars, product demos, training, or customer support.
Teams use web conferencing software to communicate with remote staff, connect with customers, and update partners efficiently. These types of tools enhance communication, lower travel costs, and improve productivity. They can also contribute to a healthier work-life balance by encouraging more flexible work options and less travel time.
One of the most well-known web conferencing platforms is Skype. Here we take a dive into what Skype is all about – and highlight five alternatives to consider when choosing your web conferencing preference.
You Skype Your Parents, But Do You Skype Your Boss Too?
Skype has been around since 2003 and has over 300 million monthly users. Skype allows users to call other people on phones, computers or other connected devices. This can be used for personal calls between family and friends, but also businesses of any size. If you are a business larger than 25 people, we are going to take a look at what Skype for Business has to offer you.
Skype for Business features Skype-to-Skype audio, video, and media, instant messaging, exchange and SharePoint interoperability, integration with Microsoft 365 administration and management tools, audio connectivity with phone and more. Meetings can include up to 250 participants and can also be broadcasted to 10,000 people.
Users say that Skype for Business is great across large organizations for more effective communication and collaboration. Many appreciate Skype’s integration with Microsoft 365’s management and presentation tools. Reviews consistently review Skype’s video and audio quality as reliable.
“Skype for Business is used at my organization to stay in touch with external vendors and clients. It is additionally used for company meetings, client meetings, and vendor meetings when having a reliable connection for voice and video conferencing is required.”
~ Leah Jakaitis | Senior Data Analyst | Level Interactive
Skype is not without weak spots. It heavily relies on a good internet connection. If you are working for an international business where internet service might not always be the fastest, video and audio might lag, possibly cutting the call. Also, users have mentioned that having multiple group chats open at a time can cause delays.
Alternatives to Skype to Consider
Though Skype is one of the most widely used software of its type, it is not without competition. We are going to take a look at 5 other business alternatives to Skype. These were selected because they are all Top Rated Web Conferencing Software, earning a score of at least 8 out of 10 with at least 130 ratings and reviews.
Zoom is a video conference tool used for group meetings, product demos, customer service and more. This platform features online meetings of up to 500 participants, meeting recording, group webinars, collaboration-enabled conference rooms, and business IM with file sharing. Zoom integrates with many other popular business tools, like Slack, Salesforce, Google tools, education software and more. It also specializes in solutions for in telehealth services.
Users cite Zoom as very reliable and easy to use software. In turn, many love that it is quick to set up and takes very little space on their computers. Clients also say that they appreciate that Zoom can be used across their organizations in many different ways, including product demos, technical support, and conference calls.
“We use Zoom for group calls, screen sharing, presentations, webinars, international calls, training and more. Zoom works great on any platform.”
~ Andy Ryan | Founder | Millennial Man Mastermind & Accountability Group
A basic account with Zoom is free. A Pro deal costs $14 per month per host. Business and Enterprise packages cost $19 per month per host. Contact their sales team to learn more about what these entail.
BlueJeans is a cloud-based conferencing solution that can be used across different devices. Up to 15,000 participants can take part in meetings, and BlueJeans offers Q&A capabilities, polls and large meeting controls. BlueJeans uses Dolby technology to reduce background noise, and make voices clearer and more level. BlueJeans features conference room systems and events integrate with other project management tools and intelligent transcription.
Reviewers love that it helps keep their staff across multiple locations, such as different offices, different countries, or someone who is simply stuck in public transit, connected. Many commend BlueJeans for its clear video and audio. Others love that it is rich in features and integrations.
“BlueJeans is used across our company to help us connect with our teams located in sites all over the world. We deployed it in 2016 and it has helped immensely in keeping our many business units and teams connected and productive.”
~ Tony Gambino | Senior Helpdesk Administrator | Wieden + Kennedy
For freelancers and small businesses, the starting package costs $12.49 per host per month. The business package price is $16.65 per host per month. For enterprise-level pricing, contact BlueJeans directly.
Lifesize Video Conferencing is a cloud-based video conferencing and meeting room solution. This platform can host up to 10,000 viewers per event and up to 50 participants in HD video. Lifesize offers its own devices to complement the software, including cameras, microphones, and smart devices, to ensure high-quality video and audio. This solution can be accessed from all devices, is interoperable, and features video recording and sharing. It also integrates with other popular solutions like Skype for Business and Slack.
Lifesize Video Conferencing users love the video and audio quality of this solution, saying it makes meetings more enjoyable. Clients also appreciate the available integrations and 24/7 support.
“Great quality video both sending and receiving. This unit records in high definition at 60 frames per second, and the picture is fantastic if connecting to other Lifesize units with similar capabilities.”
~ Derek Letellier | IT Specialist, Legal Videographer, Marketing Specialist | Lake Cook Reporting
A Mini Bundle starts at $16 per user per month for up to 25 users, including global support. Other packages range from $19-23 per user per month with some additional features. For customized quotes, contact sales directly.
WebEx Meetings is a conferencing, group messaging and screen sharing solution. This platform can also host up to 40,000 people. It features whiteboard capabilities and integrations with calendars and other useful software like Salesforce, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and learning platforms like Moodle and Canvas.
WebEx also offers their own devices like an all-in-one smart whiteboard and video screen, room and desk devices, and a cloud-based desk phone system with video.
Users say that WebEx is reliable and offers high-quality video and audio. Many appreciate its easy screen sharing and integration with other software. Multiple reviewers said that this platform is useful for communicating internationally.
“We use it mainly for our meetings with our remote team members. Currently, it is being used in few departments. Whenever we want to have a global call we often go with WebEx Meetings. It’s easy to use and connectivity makes us choose it as a go-to option for any meetings.”
~ Raghu Nandhan | Sr. Research & Project Analyst | Trelleborg Sealing Solutions
The Premium 8 package is $24 per month, which includes services for up to 8 people per meeting. Other WebEx Premium Plans range from $49 to $69 per month. All Premium Plans include video conferencing, whiteboard markups, record meetings, share applications and more.
GoToMeeting is a professional online meeting software. People can meet on any device and from any location. GoToMeeting can host up to 250 participants per meeting. It features business messaging, smart transcription, one-click meetings from other popular apps like your email and messaging tools, conference room solutions, and toll-free audio from over 50 countries.
GoToMeeting includes HD video, real-time screen sharing, and integrated audio. This platform is additionally integrated with other tools like Salesforce and Outlook. GoToMeeting conference room solutions can be customized depending on whether you already have your own equipment or this team can equip your room with their devices.
Users say GoToMeeting has high-quality video and audio, is very easy to use, and has great scheduling capabilities. Others highlight the flexibility between the presenter and interactive modes.
“GoToMeeting is used primarily for conferencing and webinar capabilities. GoToMeeting is enabled across the entire enterprise, with each employee having an individual account with the product. GoToMeeting is great for teams who have remote/international team members.”
~ Verified User | Consultant in Marketing | Marketing and Advertising Company
A Starter plan is $19 per month (billed annually) for web audio, unlimited meetings, business messaging and screen sharing. More advanced plans range from $29 to $49 per month and include more meeting tools.
Find the Right Web Conferencing Product for Your Business
Whether you are a large enterprise seeking a simpler way for different offices to connect or a small business with a primarily remote team, web conferencing tools are necessary for your team to communicate, plan, and get work done.
Read customer reviews of web conferencing software products for yourself to determine which platform offers the features you need, the quality you desire, and the price you can afford.