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Battle of the brands: Choosing the right video conferencing platform for your business

AVTE spoke to seven leading video conferencing providers to find out why they each claims to have the upper hand over their competitors in the meeting room

Video conferencing (or video telephony as it was once referred) has come on along way since its concept was first conceived back in the 1870’s, with its first public service offering in 1936. Back then, the technology largely centred around the use of two closed circuit television systems (one at each end) connected via coaxial cable or radio.

Today, the concept is far simpler and is accessible to anyone in possession of a connected device – be it a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

For businesses, adoption of video conferencing services continues to rise at speed. According to various forecasts, the video conferencing market is predicted to grow around 20 per cent each year, with the industry’s current worth of $16 billion rising beyond $40 billion by 2022. In 2017, Skype alone had more than 300 million active monthly users, with the app downloaded more than a billion times.

In an ever increasingly crowded market, choosing the right platform (or platforms) is vital, but can be equally as complicated, confusing and potentially even costly. There are a number of things to consider (see pages 50-52) and a wide range of brands to choose from.

To help bring some clarity, AVTE spoke to seven leading video conferencing providers (steering away from the hardware) to learn more about their solutions and why they consider theirs to the best choice for you and your business. 

Company: 8×8

Solution: 8×8 X Series

Target market: Firms of all sizes and from any industry – SMB, mid-market, enterprise and public sector.

Perfect for: Distributed workforces, global users and meeting rooms of all sizes.

Sell it: 8×8 X Series provides users with one integrated application for video and audio conferencing, team messaging, and phone calls. Users can join and host meetings from a mobile application, or browser, easily adding internal guests through instant message or extending the invite to an external participant. 8×8 meetings integrate with Google mail and Outlook to make it easy for users to set up meetings and video conferences from their mail application. 8×8 owns and develops its own solution. Providing customers with a guaranteed and reliable, clear video and audio using advanced technology to deliver high-definition quality.

Stand out feature: Single solution for enterprise quality voice, video, meetings and messaging. 8×8 also recently acquired Jitsi to further enhance video capabilities.

Company: BlueJeans

Solution: BlueJeans Rooms with Dolby Voice

Target market: Start-ups to global corporations

Perfect for: Huddle rooms and small to medium sized conference rooms.

Sell it: BlueJeans Rooms with Dolby Voice combines high-end video conferencing features at an entry level price point. It is an easy to install, manage, and use solution that intelligently flexes to various scenarios to provide an amazing, natural, and productive meeting experience. It overcomes key challenges faced by meeting participants and IT that hamper productivity such as unintelligible audio, shadowy video, distracting background noise, poorly framed views of participants, and confusing interfaces on jumbled hardware kits. It is easy for participants to use and for IT to manage. It was introduced as a way to minimise fatigue by combining excellent sound quality and levelling technology with smart camera adjustments to motion and lighting, helping meeting focus to stay on what matters.

Stand out feature: The 4K wide-angle camera and HDR video mapping intelligently adjusts to changes in lighting and motion in a multitude of room sizes and structures. This enables a seamless experience for everyone in the room and remote participants by intelligently framing the meeting discussion in real-time.

Why choose over a competitor? By including the Dolby Conference Phone, BlueJeans Rooms with Dolby Voice delivers an amazing audio centrepiece with the ability to adapt to shifting speaking volumes and room acoustics in real time. With features like voice placement and dynamic levelling, the power of audio clarity becomes a reality.

Price? Variable, from free trial to enterprise-level.

Free trial? Yes, a 30-day free trial.

Company: ClickMeeting

Solution: ClickMeeting

Target market: ClickMeeting is a browser-based webinar software that brings the power of web conferencing to organisations of any size, from one-person firms to multinational enterprises.

Sell it: ClickMeeting delivers the best webinar and web conferencing experience for each client. Interested prospects can choose from available features and add-ons and create their own solution that serves their needs in the best possible way. We’ve found our own way to compete with the giants with creativity and flexibility and we’ve proved that even a small team can conquer the market and build a strong and solid position for itself.

Stand out feature: It’s not a feature per se, but it’s something that definitely makes a unique software provider and it’s our 5-star Customer Success Team. Just to give you an example, 95 per cent of customers are happy with our support, which beats the global benchmark by10 per cent.

Why choose over a competitor: We provide a complete webinar solution that works great both for small meetings and huge webinar events. At the same time, we’re flexible enough to deliver solutions that our customers want and need. Doesn’t matter if they are a one-person company or an enterprise – we hear out their feedback, support them in their work and help them to understand how webinars can help their business grow.

Price? ClickMeeting pricing is subscription-based, which means that our users choose how they want to be billed: on a monthly or annual basis. The pricing is also associated with the number of attendees allowed in a single webinar session. The pricing starts from $25 per month. Users are allowed to upgrade their account at any time and buy add-ons for an additional fee.

Free trial? 30-day free trial version with no credit card required.

Company Name: Zoom Video Communications

Solution Name: Zoom

Target market: Organisations of any size

Perfect for: Desktop, mobile, and meeting spaces of any type. With features like HD video, cloud recording transcripts, virtual backgrounds, you can Zoom from anywhere!

Sell it: Zoom is a communications platform for video, voice, chat, and content sharing across all devices. Zoom features an easy-to-navigate interface and highest quality video and audio experience for face-to-face meetings that feel natural, flow better – without interruptions – and ultimately meetings that are more productive.

Stand out feature: Zoom is uncomplicated for its end users – with a simple interface and one-click join. It makes video communications less fiddly and more accessible.

Why choose over a competitor: Zoom offers more for less, with a free plan that gives you access to unlimited meetings – including one-to-one calls with no time limit for absolutely no cost. As if that wasn’t enough – it also offers calls for up to 40 minutes with a maximum of 100 participants for free.

Price? £0 for the free plan and £11.99/mo for Pro

Free trial? More than a trial – a free plan with great benefits. 

Company: Lifesize

Solution: Lifesize Dash

Target market: Corporate

Perfect for: Mini meeting spaces and huddle rooms.

Sell it: Mini spaces and huddle rooms are quickly becoming the go-to location for meetings in today’s fast paced, collaborative environment. We designed Lifesize Dash as a way to help maximise productivity in these spaces while still offering the benefits of larger meeting room solutions. Now, companies have another option that is simple, cost-effective, and above all else, intuitive for their users.

Stand out feature: Our quality not compromised by price or size.

Why choose over a competitor: The DASH is really simple to use and seamlessly integrates with a variety of third-party USB cameras and audio devices including AVer, Logitech, Huddly, MXL and others, so customers can create the best possible meeting room solution for their needs.

Price? All you need is a Chromebox, laptop or tablet, a USB camera and audio device, and a monitor and you have yourself a video solution for under £1,000.

Free trial? Existing and new customers who subscribe to the Lifesize cloud-based service (Between Oct. 30, 2018 – Jan. 31, 2019) will receive a free Lifesize Dash subscription.

Company Name: RingCentral

Solution Name: RingCentral Office (video solutions are included in the main solution, along with team messaging, conferencing, mobility, analytics and tonnes of communications features).

Target market: SMB, mid-market, and enterprise businesses of all industries

Perfect for: Rooms of any size, can also be used as a full room conferencing solution as well as for small teams or individuals.

Sell it: RingCentral, Inc is a leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications and collaboration solutions. More flexible and cost-effective than legacy on-premises systems, RingCentral empowers today’s mobile and distributed workforce to communicate, collaborate, and connect from anywhere, on any device. RingCentral unifies voice, video, team messaging and collaboration, conferencing, online meetings, and integrated contact centre solutions. RingCentral’s open platform integrates with leading business apps and enables customers to easily customise business workflows.

Stand out feature: RingCentral video conferencing has a simple UI and enables you to easily join meetings from your desktop, conference room, or mobile device, which is further integrated into a full cloud PBX solution.

Why choose over a competitor: RingCentral video solutions offer user friendly HD video to businesses of all sizes, easily integrates with your business activities and is just one part of a larger all-inclusive communications package.

Price? £7.99/user

Free trial? Yes

Company Name: Microsoft

Solution Name: Skype for Business

Target market: Organisations of any size.

Perfect for: Collaboration with anyone, anywhere on any device

Sell it: Skype for Business goes above and beyond the platform’s standard capabilities by throwing in tools and features that make it worthy of full enterprise deployment.

The service offers advance scheduling, real-time screen sharing, VoIP support, and accessibility across desktop, iOS and Android devices, while up to 250 people can join a single meeting.

Want to take this even further and stage a webinar? Skype Meeting Broadcast may be the upgrade for you, enabling up to 10,000 attendees, full producer controls, Azure streaming, Bing Pulse polling and audience participation via Yammer.

Stand out feature: Being part of the Microsoft family makes Skype for Business particularly appealing for organisations already using an Office 365 corporate package, as the associated applications come tightly integrated and have instant familiarity.

Notable features include: An unlimited number of meetings, built-in instant messaging, URL invites, Powerpoint upload, use on any device (PC, MAC, iPhone, Android, iPad), screen sharing, whiteboard (draft, draw and edit together like being in the same room) and more.

Price? Though it wasn’t always the case, Skype for Business now requires a subscription to the Business Premium edition of Office 365, which costs $12.50 (£9.50) a month if you commit to an entire year. If you want to pay month-to-month, the price hikes up to $15 (£11.50) per month.

Free trial? Request