Enterprise video conferencing has become a necessity for business continuity and staying connected in times of social distancing. It makes sense to stop and assess whether your current solution is the best one for your needs. Can you all see my screen? Good! Now mute yourselves so we can review the best enterprise video conferencing solutions in 2021.
What Is Enterprise Video Conferencing?
A video conference is a live video-based meeting between two or more remotely located people, over an internet connection. The participants can see, hear, and talk to each other in real-time. All they need is a camera-equipped computer or mobile device and specialized software, such as Kaltura Meetings.
These software-based platforms transmit enterprise video communications over internet protocols. Over the years, the bane of these platforms was latency, which stymies real-time communication. The usability and success of enterprise video conferencing software depends on achieving near-instant transmission of bulky video files, such that a natural conversation between several remote parties could occur without lagging or buffering. The latest standard, web-based Real-Time Communication (webRTC), enables in-browser communication at ultra-low latency. Another challenge is video and audio quality, which strongly depends on the internet speed of the participants.
Who Can Benefit from Enterprise Video Conferencing?
In short, enterprise web conferencing benefits anyone who cannot meet in person. While the pandemic made this basically mandatory, the changes in business hint that even as offices open back up, remote meetings will stay a normal part of life. Beyond the pandemic, video conferencing software benefits enterprises with multiple branches and locations. It connects people with colleagues, stakeholders, and customers, in a time- and resource-efficient manner. Enterprise video conferencing has many use cases such as team meetings, corporate training, webinars, video demonstrations, 101 customer support, job interviews, and user testing.
The 5 benefits of enterprise video calling
- It’s the next best thing to face-to-face communication
- It connects teams and improves productivity
- It saves time and money, commuting or traveling to meetings
- It enables remote work
- It improves collaboration through screen and file sharing
Key Features of Paid Enterprise Video Conferencing Solutions
Some meeting solutions offer free access to their platform. These freemium plans come with limitations that are important enough for users to hopefully upgrade to a paid plan. Let’s review the most desirable features of paid meeting solutions. This will help you understand what to look for in your next enterprise video conferencing platform.
- Audio and Video Conferencing – high-quality audio and HD video.
- Screensharing – participants can share slides, files, and documents, or show actions on their computer.
- Video sharing – video can be shared to play from within the platform, including system audio.
- Chat feature – Participants can share thoughts and information via the chat without interrupting the meeting.
- Whiteboard – a digital whiteboard is a great collaboration tool to illustrate, structure, and brainstorm meeting topics. All participants can be invited to interact with the whiteboard.
- Shared notes – participants can collaborate to take notes together.
- Polls – session leader can take a quick poll of everyone present.
- Session recording – meeting hosts can record the session with audio and video, some platforms offer additional features for sharing and cloud storage.
- Performance reports – Some platforms, like Kaltura, offer performance reports with session analytics and attendance information for the host.
- Active Speaker Focus – Speaker tracking is a helpful indicator for the participants to know who is currently speaking. Usually, the active speaker automatically takes the main video frame and/or their thumbnail lights up.
7 Best Enterprise Video Conferencing Solutions
Let’s take a look at the top 7 online meeting platforms. We’ll verify if they offer all the features we discussed in the previous section. We’ll also assess how they score for the critical attributes of reliability, security, convenience, cost, and integration with other software.
According to Gartner Kaltura is one of the few industry players to have an enterprise video content offering in addition to its video conferencing platform. This across-the-board video expertise resulted in a host of communication and collaboration features that engage participants and fuel productivity. Think HD video, collaborative whiteboards, screen sharing, shared notes, chat, cloud recording, and much more. Persistent meeting rooms are another great feature. These are helpful for recurring events or for preparing meeting rooms in advance.
No installations or download required; Kaltura Meetings is fully browser-based. The UI is customizable and brandable which is perfect for meetings with customers or other external parties. Highly flexible and open, Kaltura integrates perfectly with existing systems of any size enterprise.
- Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams provides features such as screen sharing, recording, live captions, background blurring, and chat. They don’t offer a built-in whiteboard feature at this time. Part of Microsoft 365 suite, Teams integrates with other 365 products such as Word, PPT, and Excel files (which you can share and edit in real-time). The interface and the security features are very good, as you can expect from a company like Microsoft.
Microsoft Teams is a good option for companies that are already invested in the Microsoft Business Premium 365 suite. For other companies, the high interdependency between Microsoft products will severely limit the capabilities of this product.
- Google Meet
Part of Google Workspace (formerly G-suite), Google Meet is Google’s attempt at penetrating the enterprise video conferencing market. It offers all the standard features, such as screen sharing, chat, and live captioning. Google Meet establishes reliable connections and integrates very well with other Google products, such as Google mail and Google Calendar. The security features are tight for all pricing plans.
Google Meet is best suited for SMEs that already incorporate Google Workspace products. Inviting participants who do not have a Gmail account to your meeting is only available to Workspace subscribers, for instance. We read negative user reviews about subpar audio and video quality, and the lack of notetaking and recording features.
BlueJeans was acquired by Verizon in 2020 and offers all the basic features in a simple and convenient UI. Some additional features to note are the meeting highlights with task assignment, breakout sessions, whiteboard and annotation features, and HD video and Dolby audio capabilities. BlueJeans advertises secure video conferencing with AES-256 encryption.
The platform does have a few drawbacks. The high audio and video quality results in a higher latency (lag) than most enterprise video conferencing competitors. Zoom and BlueJeans are the only platforms on this list that require downloading and installing an app. Both offer a browser-based experience as well, but with limited features.
Why is Zoom so popular? At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies worldwide were looking for quick business continuity solutions. Zoom—which had already made a name for itself with improved video call reliability and quality— was the right man at the right time with its freemium business model.
Fast forward to February 2021, 300 million participants worldwide are joining Zoom meetings every day. With scheduling options, screen sharing, breakout rooms, and session recording, Zoom has plenty of features to go for. Yet, more and more companies are turning to Zoom alternatives. Security and privacy concerns are the main drivers here after Zoom repeatedly hit the news in 2020 following encryption issues and privacy loopholes. Users also reported a lack of features in the browser-based version and poor integration and flexibility.
- Cisco WebEx
Cisco has done some extensive work to improve the acquired WebEx platform, particularly its interface. WebEx has great features such as the options to pin important messages, set up meeting agendas, organize breakout rooms, and cancel background noise. Video conferencing with WebEx is secured with encryption and user authentication. WebEx is a good choice for companies that already host meetings with Cisco hardware and technology.
The price point is the biggest drawback for many users. WebEx is expensive. Other user reviews reported the WebEx platform to be unintuitive to use and prone to bandwidth issues. Meeting sessions are recorded in WebEx’s proprietary ARF (Advanced Recording Format) file type, which requires downloading and installing the WebEx Network Recording Player to enable playback. Despite these issues, WebEx remains a decent option for mid-size to large enterprises.
GoToMeeting is a robust platform for SMEs. It offers great features like HD video, recording and transcription, calendar integration, a note editor, and unlimited cloud storage for Business plan subscribers. GoToMeeting integrates well with other platforms (outlook, google calendar, salesforce, slack).
The platform lacks polling or quizzing features, while other advanced meeting tools are only available to Business users. However, most user complaints are about connection issues, audio glitches, and the outdated UI, which could use a redesign.
The Future of Video Conferencing
2020’s demand for remote collaboration platforms opened up the market and forced its main players to innovate and perfect their offering. In the future, we’ll see latency and lagging further reduced to a minimum, while audio and video quality will improve. More collaboration tools will be developed. Natural Language Processing, AI, AR, and VR will augment the enterprise video conferencing experience.
One certainty is that video conferencing won’t turn obsolete after COVID restrictions are lifted. According to the PWC US Remote work Survey in 2020, 55% of US executives expect most of their employees to work from home at least one day per week after the pandemic. The advantages are simply too big. Time is money, but video conferencing saves both time AND money, and that is music in the ears of any efficient enterprise. The future lies at the feet of the company that knows how to choose the right tools.
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