With government-mandated shutdowns impacting countries all around the world, many businesses have been forced to embrace full-staff work-from-home models in order to keep the proverbial doors open. In turn, video conferencing tools have become indispensable, as daily meetings have moved from the boardroom to the living room. Small businesses looking for new video conferencing tools have a plethora of options available to them, both free and paid, and each offering specific strengths and suffering from specific weaknesses. Most offer the same core features, but some stand out over others both in their usability and their price points. The following is a quick summary of four of the leading applications.
Zoom has definitely emerged as the video conferencing favorite and has quickly seen mass adoption across business and education alike. It’s not surprising, as Zoom offers some pretty significant benefits. It’s easy to use, it’s clear, you don’t need an account to use it, and you can throw up a cool background to add a little spice to your meeting. But maybe most importantly of all, it offers all of that for free for up to 100 participants and up to 40 minutes – more than enough for the needs of many small businesses. Teams in need of more time or users can upgrade for just $14.99 a month, making it a steal even for the largest organizations. Arguably the biggest downside of Zoom has been its security issues. Questions have been raised around the quality of Zoom’s encryption, and a series of high-profile “Zoom Bombings” have shown how easy it is for pranksters to barge in on meetings at the worst possible times.
Google Meet / Google Hangouts:
Google Hangouts has traditionally offered free video conferencing capabilities, but it’s being phased out in favor of Google Meet, which is essentially the same service. Google Meet is only $6 per month, which is not much of a barrier, but unlike Zoom, it does require everyone to have an account. Fortunately, almost everyone already has a Google account, and Google Meet’s integration with the rest of Google’s productivity tools, including Gmail and Google Calendar, represents one of the platform’s major competitive advantages.
Skype is the old man on the scene, but it still enjoys success because it works well. It’s a Microsoft product, which means it’s continuously supported and integrates extremely well with Microsoft’s other Office tools. That makes it a good choice for those looking to utilize Office products during their meetings. It’s also completely free. Microsoft has recently opened Skype up so that it can be accessed by participants without accounts, but the platform is limited to 50 users per call, making it unsuitable for certain high-volume users, like educational institutions.
Join.Me is a straightforward, relatively no-frills video conferencing application, but it works extremely well for organizations that have regular meetings because it offers permanent meeting URLs. That means there’s no need to constantly send out emails or texts with new URLs. Team members only need to know what time to show up, and the meeting “location” never moves. The downside is that pricing starts at $10 per month and that only gets you room for 5 participants and very limited features. To unlock full meeting capacity and relatively basic features like webcam streaming and recording, you’ll need to shell out $20 per month or more.
At BAMS, we’ve utilized video conferencing in our day to day operations for years. Our development managers and support specialists regularly teleconference with our merchant partners, and we use multiple platforms, selecting the right fit for each specific meeting and the needs of the client. If your business is looking for a new merchant services partner in addition to new teleconferencing software, give us a call, and we’d be happy to demo some of our favorite tools for you while we show you firsthand how much you stand to save on merchant fees each month by partnering with BAMS.