How To Select The Right Videoconferencing Platform
The change in working practices forced on huge swathes of the business population by COVID 19 has driven a massive increase in the usage of videoconferencing platforms. According to App Annie, UK downloads of the popular Zoom cloud meetings application were 20 times their normal average during the week March 15th to 21st.
However, the videoconferencing and collaboration market is a crowded one with a plethora of choice. In addition to Zoom, anyone watching UK television cannot have failed to notice the advertising spend being lavished on Microsoft Teams and Google have opened up additional features on their free version of its Hangouts Meet toolset. Add to this the additional complexity that some VOIP telephone systems (such as our favoured 3CX platform) include their own integrated video calling technology and the landscape becomes very crowded indeed.
So, how do you go about selecting the best video calling platform for your business? We’ve put together some areas to consider here that we hope might be useful.
The first thing to consider is whether you already have the technology in your organisation to enable videoconferencing? If you do, and especially if your use of the platform is likely to be mainly internal, there are strong arguments for using a platform that is familiar, fully installed and already paid for. Here at CF Systems we’ve been making extensive use of the videoconferencing facilities offered by our 3CX VOIP telephone system – its worth checking if you have similar capabilities.
Cost is always a factor in technology choices and videoconferencing is no different. Firstly as mentioned, its worth looking to see if you already have technology in house that is unused or little used. VOIP phone systems are a potential area as mentioned above, its also worth checking if any existing agreements you have in place with the likes of Google or Microsoft include the ability to use their software free of charge. Most of the major platforms have some type of free offering – check this and see if it fits your needs. Generally most of the free plans have some type of limit on either number of participants or the length of permitted calls – read the small print and see if these would be suitable for you.
In addition, take a look at the types of call you’ll be using the platform for and how well the platforms meet these requirements. For example, are you largely going to be using it for interactive meetings ? Do you require chat or Q and A type functionality? Are you going to be using it mainly for lectures or presentations where users are muted? Many platforms have rooms where you can choose between these types of usage – again its worth checking these and seeing how well they fit your most likely uses.
Do you want to record and playback meetings or offer them as an asset to be distributed or published on your website? Check that your preferred platform permits this if so. Also, are you likely to want to enable screen sharing or to integrate other apps such as Powerpoint into any conference? Do you want to integrate meetings into Outlook or Google calendars to easily share invites? Again, check if this is possible when choosing your platform.
Finally, don’t underestimate ease of use. This is where a familiar system can really score, its also worth considering how easy it is for users on different devices to use, especially in situations where people may be at home and working on non standard machines, tablets or mobiles.
We hope this article has been of some use. We’ve been helping many of our clients make the best use of video conferencing – please get in touch if we can help you.