Video conferencing can improve the communication in your business in many ways. Video conferencing software allows you to see important visual cues that are lost in email and teleconferencing. It enables you to speak face-to-face with your group whether or not they’re at your location, or in the office at all. Your business can save money by reducing travel expenses and unite your workforce in a way that’s difficult to do by phone or email. Many video conferencing services allow you to share applications and work collaboratively on projects. Three of the top services are Cisco WebEx, Citrix GoToMeeting and Adobe Connect.
Video Conferencing Services: What to Look For
Video conferencing solutions vary in price depending on the type of services you need. If you only need to gather a handful of people, a basic and inexpensive service will likely suffice. The key is to closely match the service's offerings to your needs. Some features to consider when choosing a conferencing service are the number of attendees and hosts, the variety of devices that you can work from, whether the service integrates with other applications and if the service features HD video and voice.
Number of Participants
A subscription to a video conferencing system can include multiple hosts handling multiple meetings simultaneously. The service you select may depend largely on the number of people you would include in your meetings. Many of these services include the ability to invite outsiders, like a client, by providing a URL and holding the meeting in a cloud-based video conference. Some of the services require each user to have a web-based account or download the software or application on their device or computer.
One of the best features of video conferencing is that it removes the requirement that everyone be in the same office at once. Most of these services include mobile apps that allow any user to participate with just a smart phone or tablet. Some services allow you to schedule, host and attend meetings right from your phone.
One of the less-known benefits to video conferencing services is the ability to combine other applications into your meetings. Many offer the ability to share screens with the rest of the users. Others limit your sharing to individual applications. You can also schedule video conferences with clients or team members using your existing calendar and email applications, such as Outlook or Google Calendar.
Some of the benefits of face-to-face meeting can be diluted by poor connectivity and low definition. Also, if you’re working with a client over video conferencing, it may be challenging to make a good impression if the picture and audio are bad. Consider services that offer HD sound and video. Also note that some services allow you to record the meeting for future reference.
There is a wide range of video conferencing services available, so you'll be able to find the one that best suits your needs. Even the services with fewer features offer you the ability to see your clients and employees face-to-face, taking the guesswork out of your communication. Video conferencing can be tailored to your needs and customized to the needs of your business.
Adobe Connect is one of the most robust video conferencing services. Connect allows you to create web meetings, eLearning courses, virtual classrooms and webinars. Users can create and host video conference meetings, join in existing meetings, work collaboratively or do extensive trainings.
Video conferencing meetings are easy to create. Connect provides templates for meeting invitations, including individual user logins, and you can use your own images, tables and charts. You can provide a custom URL on Adobe’s site, and Adobe will host the meeting and save all the data at the URL as long as it’s needed. You can edit meeting content, make participants anonymous, hide certain functions and reuse it for later training. Connect also has tools that monitor how engaged your attendees are in a meeting and help you adjust the content in real time.
You can assign training managers to create curricula, assign attendees and even create quizzes and tests for your employees. Presenters can show up on camera, show presentations or share desktops. You can manage the data of all of the attendees and track performance of those who register for the course. Adobe allows you to manage your own catalog of courses and embed it on an Adobe URL. Once you’ve created content for your classes, Connect will publish the content to be used across different platforms.
Connect’s webinar feature allows you to create buzz over social media to market your webinar, then measure the effectiveness of your campaign. You can find out what’s working and what isn’t, and then adjust your campaign accordingly. During the webinar you're able to track who attends or drops out and how effective your discussion is based on the engagement of your audience using simple barometers. You can also integrate the results of your marketing into your own customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Each of Connect’s services are available on mobile devices for your employees who work remotely or are away from the office. Hosting, creating content, attending and training can all be done on any phone, tablet or computer screen.
Adobe Connect would be a good fit for organizations with a large number of employees. In addition to video conferencing, Connect’s tools for webinars and training suites are quite useful. For smaller businesses, however, the monthly subscription cost may be prohibitive, especially when if you don't need to take full advantage of all of the services.
Brother OmniJoin Review
Brother OmniJoin is a cloud-based video conferencing service that can host up to 20 attendees with extensive security measures, video optimization and the ability to host your meetings through their cloud or yours. OmniJoin has features that give you and your attendees a good visual experience.
You can share applications, your desktop, a whiteboard, individual files and PowerPoint presentations. OmniJoin lets you hand over the host capability to others to finish meetings and presentations, or take over the editing of documents. You can designate a portion of your screen for sharing, include your entire desktop or just individual applications. The whiteboard allows you to mark over anything, including live applications and video.
OmniJoin provides 1080p HD video conferencing. Brother’s Intelligent Resolution means you’ll get the highest-quality video possible for your network and device. If one of your attendees has poor bandwidth, their constraints won’t affect the experience of everyone else in the meeting.
OmniJoin's Intelligent Layout will adjust the aspect ratio on your device for the best picture, and as people enter and exit your meeting, it will adjust the display for the most pleasant layout. OmniJoin is also dual-screen compatible. You can share one of your monitors while conducting the meeting through another, or split up the display as needed between the two. As the host, you can also control the layout of your attendees’ screens.
Most of the major features are available to you through OmniJoin’s mobile app. You can host, attend, chat, mark up files and share documents, images and video through mobile. You can also record meetings for later reference, for the benefit of latecomers or for training purposes.
With Brother’s public cloud, you get 1GB of cloud-based storage for your meeting recordings, documents, presentations and videos, and you can access it through any device. OmniJoin can be set up on your own corporate cloud, so you can store and host meetings through your own infrastructure. This allows you control over security and customization. You can also host video conferencing through your own domain, rather than Brother’s, and your employee and customer experience can be customized to the needs of your business.
OmniJoin gives you military-grade security, with end-to-end encryption. Your hosts can control conference security by requiring passwords, user authentication and other technical measures that meet HIPAA compliance. You can also designate files as password protected. If your office has multiple or worldwide locations, Brother has security measures to keep your meetings private.
Brother OmniJoin is a good video conferencing solution for corporations and government offices that require a reliable service with good security measures. OmniJoin is a good option for professional web-based video conferencing.
Cisco allows you to run completely web-hosted meetings. You can stream presentations and videos, as well as share files, from a centralized WebEx server. You simply send an email, then your participants log in and the online video conferencing begins.
WebEx has a professional-looking display. You are limited to six participants in a video conference, but the experience for those attending is a very simplified and sharp display. In its most simple form, you can view all the participants in smaller windows at the bottom of your screen. The largest space near the center of your screen automatically shows the active speaker. Once another person speaks, they take over the largest panel on the display, keeping your attention on the dialogue.
For more options, the browser-based meeting can show a series of dropdown menus. You can share files, video, audio and presentations in an active window. You have the option of sharing any application on your computer by selecting the active windows on your computer, or you can show your entire desktop. You can also give control of any document to other users to work collaboratively, and even work remotely on other participants’ desktops.
WebEx has a built-in browser that can be viewed or shared among your participants. There’s also a virtual whiteboard that all your users can work on. You can record the video or audio from the meeting, then save it to your WebEx account or computer. WebEx does require that you save the videos in its own proprietary format, but they can be changed to more common file extensions via other programs.
The service's communication options are well-integrated. You can drop your individual video feed during the cloud video conference and replace it with a terrestrial phone call, or you can initiate your participation in the meeting by phone on the road, then replace it with video once you’ve arrived at your destination. You can also have WebEx initiate phone calls to bring participants in.
Cisco ensures secure video conferencing services – your participants can be required to log in with passwords, and the video has end-to-end encryption.
WebEx is a good web video conferencing service for your company, particularly if you need your meetings hosted in the cloud and want a professional look to your meeting. WebEx meetings only allow for six participants, but it’s a feature-rich service. Cisco WebEx does sell separate services for larger gatherings and webinars.
Citrix GoToMeeting is a reliable video conferencing solution for most organizations. GoToMeeting allows you to share multiple video feeds, work collaboratively and share desktops, and it gives you secure video conferencing with a good support structure.
As the organizer, you can host a meeting of six video feeds with up to 25 or 100 attendees, depending on the tier of service you purchase. The six video feeds, branded HDFaces, deliver high-definition sound and video. Each meeting can be password-protected, and Citrix secures each meeting with end-to-end encryption. Likewise, as the organizer, you can limit or grant the access of different attendees to various features of the meeting service, based on your needs.
Citrix offers access to these meetings, whether you're the host or an attendee, through any web-enabled device with a camera. You can set up the meetings through Outlook, Google Calendar or most instant messaging systems with one click. Citrix also offers you a custom URL for attendees to land on. You can link to your GoToMeeting profile on any of your communications, so your clients and employees have an easy way to connect with you through the URL.
As the organizer, you can share your screen and make annotations with whiteboard style tools, or allow other users to draw on the screen through their devices. You can hand off access to a collaborative document through another feature made popular by Citrix – GoToMyPC. You can also hand over control of a presentation or the HD video conference to another presenter with just one click.
GoToMeeting has a variety of ways you can get support for video conferencing. Citrix hosts a community forum for answering questions. Plus, the Citrix website hosts a large collection of articles, videos and user guides for each of their programs. You also have access to a 24/7 support team by email, live chat or telephone.
While Citrix isn’t the most feature-rich video conferencing system, it is priced competitively for this tier of reliable, professional video conferencing services. Paired with GoToWebinar and GoToTraining, Citrix’s suite of communication services are a good option for organizations with complex communication needs.
Fuze is a video conferencing service that allows you to host meetings with 12 HD video streams. The service is fairly streamlined and has a clean-looking interface. Meetings are quickly and easily pulled together, and Fuze has unique tools for drawing in invitees and helping them participate.
From the computer-based dashboard you can create a meeting and schedule meetings, and participants can join meetings. You can use the dashboard to add content to your meeting, such as presentations, documents or videos. It's also possible to customize the landing for the meeting by adding an agenda, and you can send out invitations and provide a toll-free number for attendees.
It's easy to import your contacts from other common networks like Gmail, Yahoo, LinkedIn and most popular IM apps. One of the unique features is "Fuze-in," which helps you bring in latecomers. Fuze will work through your contacts drawn from other programs to find a phone number, then call them to invite them to join the meeting by phone. Once they are able to join by video, they can switch over.
During the meeting, you can make audio adjustments, share a whiteboard or open a notepad for collaborative work. You can also markup videos in a whiteboard fashion – draw, add shapes, zoom in and pan across videos with the group. You can also extend additional invitations once the meeting has started. You can chat as a group or with individuals. Participants also have a flag icon to get your attention to address questions or take turns.
The Fuze Join app allows you to create or join meetings from a mobile device. You can use your cell minutes or VOIP to join exclusively on audio. The app allows you to control the video conference, control presentations, watch and mark up video, chat with others and see each participant by simply swiping through feeds.
Fuze isn’t a fully web-based video conferencing software. Your participants will need to download Fuze to their PC or add the app to their device. It will work with traditional video conferencing systems from Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize and others
Fuze is easy for your participants and hosts to learn. Most people could quickly learn most of the features and operations within a few minutes. It is an easy-to-learn video conferencing solution that offers HD video, up to 12 video feeds and easy integration with other communication platforms.
ooVoo is a messaging client used for HD video conferencing, voice calls and instant messaging. Comparable to Skype, ooVoo is a communication platform that was popularized by performing simple video calls efficiently and easily. Unlike some of the larger communication suites available for video conferencing, ooVoo isn’t built to replace all of your communication software.
Video conferences can support up to 12 users. You can also imbed web-based videos into a call to watch as a group. The video is generally best on one-on-one calls, and the apps automatically cancel out echoing for better audio. The ooVoo conferencing tools feature a proprietary technology called SuperClear Video, boasting a better video quality by adjusting for poor connections and low-bandwidth.
You can launch ooVoo in Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and mobile devices, as well as through Facebook integration. ooVoo can grab your contacts from Skype, Facebook, Twitter and Gmail, so building an ooVoo contact list is easy.
The monthly subscription comes with an ad-free app, priority customer support, and 1,000 minutes of cloud-based video storage. ooVoo doesn’t charge for web video conferencing, text messages and voice calling, as long as those calls are to other mobile devices. Recording conversations for device storage is also free. ooVoo also sells credits for customers who need to call landlines.
One of the most unique aspects of ooVoo is the type of users who are attracted to it. ooVoo has a solid base of over 75 million users, but 2/3 of those users are under 30; it’s also the top video conferencing service for users under 25. Women tend to use it more. If your organization targets a younger audience, or if you want to capitalize on those demographics, ooVoo may be an attractive choice for cloud video conferencing.
This service is a good choice if you don’t need many additional options or services beyond video conferencing systems, and if you don’t require more than 12 people on a call. Smaller organizations and startups that appeal to a younger demographic will likely benefit from ooVoo’s unique customer base.
ReadyTalk is a webinar, audio conferencing and video conferencing service that offers subscriptions to those features in a variety of combinations. It integrates with other business software, so there's a logical transition from building contacts, holding meetings and webinars, then using the data from that meeting with your CRM.
The ReadyTalk video conferencing system allows you to stream four video feeds simultaneously with up to 25 attendees. As a host, you do a one-time download, and none of the other streaming participants or passive viewers are required to download any video conferencing software. You can also invite up to 100 participants to stream an audio conference over VOIP with unlimited minutes.
The application uses a dashboard on your host computer. From the dashboard, you can upload PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and other documents to share during the meeting. Co-presenters also have the same ability to upload.
Meetings can be instantaneous through one click, or scheduled ahead through your dashboard or through Outlook or Google Calendar. Alternatively, you can send email invitations with a simple URL that your attendees can use to join a meeting with one click.
The host interface is streamlined and intuitive. You can run slides or view documents in the main frame, while all the video conferencing participants stream on a panel to the side. You can grant access to your desktop and offer user participation or handoff control to other presenters.
Your ReadyTalk meeting has whiteboard annotation tools available to you and the other streaming users. You can work collaboratively on documents and markup anything on the screen. The system also allows you to record your meetings, poll your attendees in real-time and field questions from others with easy signals. Questions can be organized and sorted, and you can answer them in a timely and organized fashion.
Perhaps one of the most effective tools available for your business is integration with Microsoft Lync and Salesforce CRM. You can import all your Lync contacts and data to build a quick list of attendees. Once a meeting or presentation is complete, you can use data from your participants and use that for marketing and customer relations with an existing CRM. ReadyTalk also has 24/7 customer support through email, phone and chat.
ReadyTalk is an appealing option if you use a CRM to manage your customer interactions. It allows you to host larger meetings and webinars, and you can offer web video conferencing to your employees or clients without asking them to download anything.
Skype has the greatest name recognition among all the video conferencing software on the market. Microsoft Lync recently rebranded as Skype for Business, and Skype has become a formidable service for small businesses who want a low-priced service for communication.
Skype is known largely as a video conferencing service, and it allows all you to video conference for free, even with groups up to 25 people. The portion of Skype’s services that do cost money are associated with phone call use and the Skype for Business program.
This service offers the ability to make phone calls worldwide using any device for a low, flat monthly fee. The basic fee includes unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada. You can upgrade and add landlines in a few Mexican cities or pay more per month for unlimited worldwide calls. Alternately, you can choose to pay per-minute pricing.
Skype for Business is a service that allows you to allocate the use of calling minutes (called Skype Credit) or SMS messages by individual employees, and the business can handle the expense rather than each individual user. You can easily add or remove credits from each user as needed, and Skype will bill you monthly.
The interface is fairly simple. You can create smaller groups of contacts and quickly set up group chat or video conferencing among those users. During group chat, you can share files with simple drag-and-drop, or share your desktop with other users.
One of Skype's useful business features is Outlook integration. This means you can initiate phone calls to any contact, whether they are on Skype or a landline. You can also instant message, video conference, or email without leaving Outlook or cycling between multiple windows.
Skype also gives you HD video conferencing; however, the user experience is largely dependent upon the platform you use to access the service and your connectivity. Skype has a robust forum where users discuss how to improve the experience, including Microsoft’s large-scale customer service platform.
This service is a good value for small businesses and startups who don’t require more than 25 participants. Skype is by far the largest service for consumers and easily has the best brand recognition. An office that would make use of Skype’s audio call features would benefit the most from its video conference system.
Vyew is a primarily a collaborative workspace, and it works as a video conferencing system secondarily. It operates like a shared desktop, where several users can move things around, make changes and leave notes, and any or all users can walk away and come back to continue later. Video Conferencing is a feature within that workspace, for those times that face-to-face interaction is beneficial.
Your meetings in Vyew are always running – your group can break, or individuals can leave, and your attendees can review, comment or otherwise contribute while you’re away. Once the meeting is complete, you can publish the results of your meeting or provide links to the meeting through Vyew’s personalized URLs.
Vyew meetings can be customized with different layouts, colors and landing sites that can mimic the appearance of your business site. You are able to share most major file types, including documents, audio and video. If you’re working through software that Vyew doesn’t support, you can screenshot your project through Vyew and your attendees can use whiteboard tools on that picture. Alternatively, you can stream your desktop for others to see.
You can communicate in a few different ways on the Vyew workspace. There is a Push To Talk button that uses VOIP. You can include a voice recording as a note and place it on the workspace. As a host, you can stream your video feed to the meeting with up to 50 people. Up to five people can use internet video conferencing at once. Your attendees can use standard U.S. phone lines to call in like a conference call. Also, your attendees can silently message each other so your meeting isn’t interrupted.
One of Vyew’s strengths is the amount of control you have over everyone’s contributions to a meeting. Attendees can contribute notes, whiteboard marks and files. The host can control the level of access each user has, whether they can annotate, upload or chat, and what they can view from the host or other attendees. You can change the level of access at any time during the meeting. Also, you can sort and view all of these contributions by user. You also have the option of receiving notifications when certain contributions are made and by whom.
From the dashboard, you send invitations and assign attendee roles and access. Vyew doesn’t require registration. You just send an email, and your attendees click on the link to enter. Once they're in, you can allow them to navigate the content or force them to see what you see as you go.
Vyew is a good choice for your business if you are primarily in need of a shared workspace with a web video conferencing option. If you are looking for a service that really specializes in video conferencing solutions, there are many options that are less focused on workspace and better enable a face-to-face meeting.
Zoom is a video conferencing solution that can be tailored for small businesses and large corporations. Meetings can include 25 participating video streams, host up to 200 viewers or listeners, and include 10 or more hosts.
You can host HD video conferencing with HD audio in Zoom's simplified interface. You can view a gallery of participants, or use a main frame with smaller thumbnails across the top. If you use dual screen, or have multiple screens in your conference room, you can have multiple full-screen video feeds in several layouts. Zoom will automatically move the speaker to the primary frame.
Zoom allows you to share your host screen, or other participants can share theirs. Even Zoom’s app allows users to share screens or access documents or other mobile apps, including documents from the Dropbox app.
Your attendees can annotate the screen using markup tools and text with the whiteboard features. Zoom can record meetings to your computer or to the cloud. You can chat with individuals privately or groups. In webinar fashion, individuals can indicate they have questions with a raise hand feature.
Zoom’s application allows you to schedule meetings or create them instantly. Microsoft Outlook integrates with Zoom for scheduling and building contacts, and Google Chrome has a browser extension for integrated web video conferencing.
Zoom works with your existing conference room video systems, including endpoints from Polycom, Cisco, Lifesize and others. You can use these systems and simultaneously include users with desktops, tablets and mobile devices.
Your employees can also join meetings by dialing in over VOIP, or they can choose to receive a phone call from Zoom. As a host, you can assign responsibilities, like a scheduler, use a vanity Zoom URL or your own domain, and include your own company branding and cloud. Zoom also sells video conferencing systems for campuses, webinar services and healthcare businesses with unique security needs.
Whether your business only requires small gatherings or large-scale meetings, Zoom is a good option for cloud video conferencing. Zoom’s professional display, HD video and audio, and customizable packages make it an attractive service for organizations that want to integrate video conferencing into their existing communication.