Which Web Conferencing Service Should You Choose?
In the past, it was unheard of to enter into business negotiations or to close an important deal without being physically present at a meeting. The richness of body language and expression, as well as the firmness of a handshake were things that could not be effectively transmitted over a telecommunications network.
Times are changing, technologies are advancing, and attitudes are shifting. Now, it is not only acceptable, but often preferable to work and meet remotely, by taking advantage of the various technologies that make such meetings possible. Among the most common tools for creating these online meetings are web conferencing services.
What is a web conferencing service?
A web conferencing service allows users located anywhere in the world to collaborate in video meetings. Web conferences deliver both audio and video communication so that users can see each other and have the benefit of viewing facial expressions and gestures for enhanced communication. They often provide a secondary video stream that includes supplemental content such as a presentation, a shared whiteboard, or the showing of a separate prerecorded video. Communication endpoints can either be a desktop or laptop computer, a smartphone or tablet, an IP videophone, or a videoconferencing system built to accommodate a group of people such as in a board room or small auditorium.
In the past, such video conferencing systems were expensive stand-alone appliances that were difficult to operate and were exclusively owned by the enterprise itself. Today, however, there are a multitude of web conferencing service providers that deliver the required platform, technology, infrastructure, and know-how to get you up and running quickly and easily.
Recent reports have confirmed that the way to do business is rapidly changing, and businesses that are willing to make these changes have the highest chance of success and longevity. For this reason, we’ve examined five web conferencing providers, showcasing their stellar features and expressing the pros and cons of each, aiding you in making the decision of which one is best for your business.
GoToMeeting by LogMeIn
LogMeIn has a rich history of supplying tools and infrastructure to aid remote work by corporate employees. GoToMeeting, LogMeIn’s web conferencing service, is just one more (very large) feather in its cap, enabling interactive remote collaboration between partners, customers, and company staff. It’s seamlessly integrated with other GoTo services including GoToConnect unified communications service, GoToRoom video conference hardware, and GoToTraining and GoToWebinar training and events services.
- Easy-to-use interface for Mac, PC, or mobile devices
- Out-of-the-box GoToRoom equipment can convert a conference room into a GoToMeeting video meeting room in minutes
- Centralized administrative control center with diagnostic reporting available
- Seamless integration with other LogMeIn services
- There are additional costs to access premium features such as meetings larger than ten participants, drawing tools, and unlimited recording
- The chat option only functions during the meeting
- The quality of user devices (desktops, smartphones) can affect the quality of the conference more than expected
This web conference provider prides itself in delivering simple, scalable, and secure video communications. Their primary focus is on enterprise remote work, delivering services that will keep employees productive as they work from home, telehealth solutions for healthcare organizations, and secure videoconferencing services for both self-hosted and “as-a-service” options.
The central hub of Pexip’s service is its Video Meeting and Calling solution. This centralized cloud service permits users of multiple platforms (desktops, mobile devices, PSTN phones, web browsers, SIP/H.323 devices) to interact seamlessly in a combined videoconference. As a bonus, the Pexip site includes a lot of helpful information that aids remote workers in preparing for and dealing with both the challenges and the rewards of working remotely.
- Broad compatibility with multiple web conferencing platforms including Skype, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams
- A second video feed is available that displays supplemental content such as a presentation, or an open document
- Live streaming and recording of meetings
- Specialized services for both corporate and health organizations
- Some of the configuration parameters may be confusing for non-technical users because they present too many options to the user
- Pricing is somewhat high for smaller businesses with limited budgets for telecom spending
RingCentral, founded in 1999 (eons ago on a telecom timescale), has been among the most well-known and respected providers of cloud-based voice over IP (VoIP) telephony for quite some time. It is considered by many to be the leader in unified communications in terms of revenue and subscriber seats. RingCentral’s legacy continues with its RingCentral Video service, providing web conferencing, video conferencing, screen sharing, and messaging for teams of all sizes.
Yet, this is not a separate service, but an extension to RingCentral’s already robust and feature-rich communications portfolio. Now you can call, message, and videoconference all from the same platform and infrastructure, using any one of your communication devices, be it desktop, IP phone, or mobile device.
- Downloading software is not mandatory, as in-browser sessions are also available
- Delivery of high voice and video quality even in low bandwidth situations
- Excellent customer support and installation services
- Some users have reported an inconsistency in the design of apps across desktop, mobile, and Chrome extension platforms
This is a service that is more focused on VoIP rather than a full-blown collaboration platform. It provides robust VoIP telephony and communication at a very competitive price. Grasshopper takes advantage of its cloud-based SIP service, enabling users to carry their corporate telephone numbers with them wherever they go.
At first, the lack of a video component to communications may seem like a negative point and for some it may indeed be a deal breaker. However, when viewed in the light of the cost savings it provides, especially for smaller businesses with limited spending options, Grasshopper’s audio-only web conferencing option begins to look a lot more attractive. This is evident in the provider’s rating compared to other subscription services.
- Ideal for smaller businesses that need to keep costs down
- Online platform is very easy and intuitive to use
- Transcripts and audio recordings of voicemails can be sent to your email address for viewing, listening, and sorting
- Users have reported some problems with the mobile app, including missed calls not appearing and the process of actually dialing out using the app being somewhat cumbersome
- Unlike other platforms, it doesn’t include video or content sharing services
GoToWebinar by LogMeIn
This article began with a LogMeIn service and appropriately ends with one. However, GoToWebinar doesn’t directly compete with GoToMeeting, but complements it in the best possible way. This is because GoToWebinar is not, strictly speaking, a web conferencing service, but a tool that facilitates online events and seminars. Even so, we believe that it belongs on this list, simply because it satisfies a large portion of web conferencing requirements, while specializing in online training.
GoToWebinar supplies the infrastructure necessary to easily prepare, produce, and broadcast live webinars for the purpose of employee and partner training. In combination with the other applications in the GoTo series of services, this service allows you to go from preparing a webinar to presenting it in fewer steps, while at the same time, maintaining the required level of communication and collaboration with your partners.
- It functions exactly as advertised—no false advertising of any kind
- Excellent reporting feature showing metrics that you need
- Exceptional for both live as well as recorded webinar scenarios
- Users have reported a somewhat difficult interface for both backend and end users
- Requires integration with other GoTo series services to provide a complete solution
Web conferencing systems are among the fundamental tools that will enable video meetings, remote work, online collaboration, and work from home. But as we know, all businesses, industries, and people are not the same and have widely differing resources and web conferencing requirements. For this reason, a different solution is needed for each situation, and we hope that this article has been useful for determining which solution is best for you.