With more and more organisations now extending their business reach across the globe and adopting remote work strategy, it’s becoming increasingly common for project teams to span across a variety of geographical borders. Yet, although such diversity is clearly beneficial, it can prove something of a barrier when it comes to communicating effectively — when things need to be really made clear, sometimes a simple email won’t suffice.
Of course, the tried-and-tested solution is simple: put your best people on a plane and thrash out the details in person. But with the average business trip costing companies an average of $1,300 per person — as well as the environmental issues involved — many organisations are seeking an alternative. With video conferencing, it seems they have found it.
To help you pick the best, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best web conferencing solutions currently on the market, ensuring that your next online meeting runs as smoothly as possible — and without the hotel costs.
Zoom’s rise to popularity in recent years is with good reason. Its rich features and diverse plans available to teams of every size make it a brilliant video conferencing solution for every business.
While a free plan is available, this comes with certain limitations, such as 40-minute group meetings and one-to-one meetings with a 30-hour time limit. Meanwhile, their Pro, Business and Enterprise plans range from $14.99 to $19.99 per month. Depending on your organisation’s needs, each plan comes with its own features and benefits.
Overall, you can expect high-definition audio, built-in collaboration tools, recording and transcript options, and streamlined scheduling — all of which will help make your next meeting a seamless experience.
While GoToMeeting might not be the dominant video conference tool it once was, it’s still a highly polished and user-friendly piece of software, with much of the features that are now standard fare adapted from GoToMeeting’s original platform.
There are three packages: Professional beginning at $12 per month, Business at $16 per month and Plus at Enterprise which is a custom package that will be modelled to your company’s needs.
3. Cisco WebEx Meetings
Designed to be customised alongside Cisco’s other WebEx tools, WebEx Meetings is a user-friendly conferencing solution that offers some really neat features such as live polling and Q&As.
Cisco WebEx is — as you would expect from such a reputable hardware company — a crisp, reliable and professional piece of equipment. Although the paid versions are on the expensive side, with pricing starting at $13.50 per host per month, you get extended video feeds, an app version and the ability to share the hosting role.
4. Microsoft Teams
Standing in to replace Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams’ video conferencing tool comes with a selection of features that every remote team will benefit from. Starting with live captions, the ‘raise your hand’ button, a digital whiteboard and the option to create a participant list, you can hold secure, interactive meetings with over 1,000 participants. With Microsoft Teams, you also have the option to invite people via email to join a meeting.
For smaller businesses, a free plan that comes with online meetings, chat and cloud storage is available, but you may also want to consider one of the paid plans, ranging between $5 and $20 per user per month.
5. Google Meet
Created to support remote teams, Google Meet (formerly known as Hangouts Meet) is a great solution for scheduled video meetings. This is an easy and fast option, which requires no software installation. Instead, you can access and join a Google Meet meeting though a web browser on any device or via Google Nest Hub Max.
This conferencing tool is free for all. That said, meetings with over three participants are limited to one hour, while one-to-one calls are limited to 24 hours. To access more features, including unlimited meetings, livestreaming options and 24/7 customer support, you may need to consider upgrading to Google Workspace Enterprise — to do so, you’ll need to contact the Google Workspace sales team to receive a personalised quote.
BlueJeans’ long list of impressive features includes video recording, meeting highlights with task assignment, and breakout meetings that allow peers to collaborate together on tasks. Conference calls are also encrypted to add extra security to all your online meetings.
Prices range from $9.99 to $16.66 per host per month, and each package comes with standard features as well as complementary ones the higher you go price-wise. You can also request customised pricing for your enterprise to benefit from advanced support and product add-ons.
7. Amazon Chime
As newcomers to the video conferencing world, the general consensus is that Amazon Chime has the potential to rival the best. As well as offering the standard video conferencing features, its aesthetic and user-friendly interface has converted many; it also translates seamlessly across operating systems, meaning Windows and Mac (as well as Android and iOS) users are all catered for.
In terms of price, Amazon Chime is a little unconventional as it claims to be a ‘pay-as-you-go communications service with no upfront fees, commitments or long-term contracts’. Essentially, some features are free, while others, such as hosting meetings, can incur a charge. What you pay will depend on how use this platform.
Although it might not have the brand muscle of some of its competitors further up this list, what ClickMeeting does have is the interface, the features and the technology that you would hope for from a dedicated niche product; in fact, it delivers it in spades.
Probably the coolest feature on offer is the ability to finetune your audio-visual experience by blocking out external noises and distractions, although this is just one of the many convenient facets of the interface. Perhaps even more impressive is that the software remains so simple and easy to use, despite the density and multitude of features available.
If language is a barrier, meanwhile, ClickMeeting can translate text into 52 languages in real time, meaning your desperate attempts at remembering your high school French won’t offend your new potential business partners.
Although there’s only a 30-day free version available, the pricing structure is fair; plans begin at $25 per month, with a variety of packages to suit every business size.
9. Zoho Meeting
Despite not offering as comprehensive a selection of features as its competitors, this is actually what makes Zoho Meeting a popular option: its simplicity. Whether by fault or design, it’s an easily accessible piece of software that offers the basic essentials and not much else — perfect, perhaps, for freelancers or simply those that don’t possess much in the way of technological knowhow.
Best of all, though, is that it’s free. There’s a professional version that begins at $3 per month, too, but if you just want to make unrestricted one-on-one video calls — as well as make use of additional screen-sharing and remote desktop control features — then Zoho Meeting could be just the ticket.
10. Adobe Connect
Although on the pricier side, Adobe Connect is a tech-heavy conferencing tool designed for those who like to delve a little deeper. All the standard video features are present, as well as a few extra goodies, such as desktop and mobile access, storyboards, interactive content for hands-on demos and asynchronous document reviews.
Indeed, the real kicker is the cost: there’s only one plan and, at $50 per host per month, it isn’t cheap.
If you want reliability, flexibility and an exhaustive variety of features, then Adobe Connect ticks all those boxes — just be prepared to pay top dollar for it.
As you can see, there’s plenty of choice to be had — the important thing is to ensure you focus on choosing the software that is right for your business. Luckily, every tool on this list has a free trial version, so always try before you buy!
Do you have any preference for any of the tools on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an update of an earlier version published on 14 March 2018, and contains contributions from staff writer Melina Theodorou.