By this point, businesses know why they need web and video conferencing. They need to gather teams of people from different locations; they need to reduce spending on travel; they want the flexibility to join meetings from smartphones and tablets; and the list goes on. More efficient collaboration means stronger teams, which result in faster speeds to market for new products and campaigns.
As you’re comparing video conferencing software, keep these considerations in mind.
1. How Will Your Business Use Online Meeting Software Now and in the Future?
Ask yourself two questions, ‘How will we use it today, and how should we use it tomorrow?’ The obvious use cases will be the answers for the first question: you’ll use it for internal team meetings. But how else could you use it? How about interviewing your customers to see where you can make improvements? Why not use it for training employees, especially if you have people in disparate offices or people who work from home? Why not host webinars to help answer those questions your prospects ask in the beginning of the sales cycle?
Once you determine your current and future needs, make sure you find online collaboration tools that can support what you want to do today and down the road.
2. Will it Work on Mobile Devices?
If your web and video conferencing software does not work easily on smartphones and tablets, then you’re inhibiting use. Today’s business people do not sit in the same office all day, every day. We travel to other offices, we go on-site to visit customers, we meet with vendors, we have lunch with colleagues, etc. So you need to make it easy for people to connect and collaborate from anywhere. The best video conferencing software enables people to join from their desktop computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet.
3. What is the Total Cost for Everything You Need?
You could go and buy teleconferencing, web conferencing and video conferencing separately, but why would you? It’s more expensive, and it is a hassle to use different services at different times, or layer them together. (A great example is having to use a separate audio bridge with your online meeting services.) That’s why finding a unified solution is the way to go. It makes it easier to use and lighter on your wallet. Our OfficeSuite HD Meeting™ is a great example– you get audio conferencing, web conferencing, and High Definition Video meetings for one low monthly price.
Besides finding a unified solution, the other word of caution here is to ask what features are included. For example, some providers offer the ability to share keyboard and mouse control and High Definition video, but those are optional features that are only included in the premium plan. In comparison, both of those features are included with OfficeSuite HD Meeting, and it costs about a quarter of the price of the most popular services on the market.
4. How Easy is it to Use?
This seems like an obvious consideration, but you would be surprised to find that not all conferencing services are easy to use. I have used several over the last few years, and one of the most popular ones (I won’t name names!) does not work well for me. It forces me to go through two different steps every time I have to join a meeting. It’s also not easy to allow another person to share their screen without giving them complete control. This may just be a personal preference, but you will find that many services have the same type of functionality but they work differently. Figure out which services offer free trials and take each one for a spin.
5. Video Quality
In an age of text-style communications that are devoid of facial expressions and vocal tone, we often miss the full message that people trying to share. How often have you misinterpreted an email or text message because there were no accompanying social cues? The vast majority of communication is non-verbal. In fact, research has show that as much as 93% of what we’re trying to say is communicated non-verbally. Knowing this, you must find a video conferencing solution that offers high quality video. Face-to-face video meetings are only as good as the picture that comes across. If you can’t see the other person very well, you’ll miss their quick smile and their hand gesture. With OfficeSuite HD Meeting’s dynamic voice detection feature, the screen changes to display the live video of the person who is currently speaking so it’s easier to catch these important social cues.
6. Flexible Audio Options
Having flexible audio options makes it easier for people to join and participate no matter where they are. There are two options for audio: you can dial in using a phone or use your computer’s audio (and plug in a headset if you wish). You can easily switch between the two options, even during a meeting. Having these options makes it easy for people to join meetings whether they are at their desk or in the field. While sharing your screen or showing a video for the other participants to see, you can share computer audio as well so that your meeting attendees get the full experience. And unlike other online collaboration tools, the audio conferencing is included with OfficeSuite HD Meeting.
7. Recording and Streaming
There are many reasons why you might want to record a meeting: for training purposes, to create webinar replays, to share video interviews, and more. But what good is a recording if you can’t easily play it or share it? Make sure you ask what type of format the recordings come in. You might be shocked to learn that the most well-known services only offer proprietary recording formats, which means they’re not easy to play and definitely not easy to share. That’s why we made sure the recordings that come with OfficeSuite HD Meeting are standard MP4 video and MPEG 4 audio formats. They can be saved to any folder or drive you want. Other providers charge storage fees, but ours is cloud-based storage so there are no fees. What if you want to play a video during a web meeting? Not all web conferencing software supports audio and video streaming, so that is another good question to ask.
8. Outlook® Calendar Integration Only?
This goes back to the ease of use consideration. If your video conferencing service integrates with your calendar, sending invites is fast and easy and requires only one step instead of two. Many conferencing services offer calendar integration but only with Microsoft Outlook®. For all you Google users out there (like me!) you’ll be happy to know that OfficeSuite HD Meeting integrates with your Google calendar as well. With just the click of the mouse I can schedule a meeting and create a new calendar invite ready to share with others. And everything needed to join the meeting is in the invite, even phone numbers for people who do not wish to use their computer audio.
9. Customizable Screens and Meeting Rooms
Depending on the meeting you’re having, it might be easier to view your screen in different ways. You might want full screen video so it’s easier to see the person who is talking. If you’re looking at a presentation with your team, you probably want the gallery view so that the PowerPoint® is front and center and everyone’s video cam is shown on the right-hand side. Not all video conferencing services offer different views, and many do not offer customized personal IDs which allow you to customize your meeting room number so that it’s easy to remember. For example, my boss changed his to 867-5309. As a result, that song is always in my head, but it’s easy to join his meetings because I never forget it!