Human beings are social by nature. Since the time that man learned to communicate, the entire species have been trying to overcome the distance between each other by reaching out to more and more strangers. This lies at the heart of the survival theory that has been guiding humans for generations. With the advent of technology, men have familiarized themselves with tools that can easily connect one part of the world to another. As men gradually moved from telephone to telegram and there onwards towards more sophisticated communication medium, human lives have been wrapped up by the worldwide web. This web has eliminated all distance and connected one part of the world to another in a most productive way.
Enhanced network connectivity has not only touched and enhanced our personal lives but also plays a very significant role in shaping our professional lives. Today, however big or small, no organization can imagine functioning without being connected by the web. The professional paradigm shift in the ways of working has led to more and more companies embracing the remote working of a workforce spread around the world. The concept of physical offices has gradually come to be replaced by remote workplaces where people come to be known by their voices or by their faces, as they appear on screens. Web conferences and online meetings have become the order of the day and every organization has embraced technology with a fervor.
Not only have businesses benefited in terms of productivity and performances by the advancement of technology, but it has also opened a world of opportunities for people. It has led to more employment and more diversification of the global economy. The internet helps expand businesses and shorten distances and the main instrument of this process is online conferencing. Online meeting services and web conferencing facilities have now been identified as the heartstring of modern times. Online services allow people across the world to connect with each other over audio, video, or text; transfer files; share screens, files, or media elements. Online meeting services also provide for facilities through which people can simultaneously work on similar files ensuring version control, reduction in travel costs, and more effective communication.
So, what are the essential features of an effective conferencing tool?
The audio and video quality of the tool needs to be up to the desired quality and standards. Since most communications happen over conferences covering people from across the world, the calls need to convey the requirements through seamless audio and video streaming without buffering.
The tool also needs to have sharing facilities. Since the workforce is spread across the globe, not only are requirements shared over the web, but training is also conducted virtually at the same time across locations. The software, therefore, needs to stream audio and multimedia, as well as be able to share files and necessary documents with not just individuals, but large groups at the same time.
One of the main features desired in a communication software adopted by a company is access rights. All employees of an organization need to have similar rights to access files or documents. They also need to have the same rights in terms of conducting web conferences, where each need to be able to mute participants as they require during conferences and most importantly, be able to record meetings and share them for reference. The tool would have an added benefit if it can accommodate live chats and polls.
Another important feature essential in any such online meeting tool should be the ability to schedule meetings as well as initiate meetings on the go. Participants should be able to integrate pre-planned meetings into their calendars so that they don’t miss it and get triggers on time. This online meeting tool should be integrated into the organizational mailing system so that the same can be used to send meeting invites to multiple people at the same time.
The software should have an app version along with a tolled or toll-free telephonic connection that people can connect to. Not always do people attend meetings or conferences from their workspace and yet this should not be a deterrent for people to attend meetings. These apps should be available on any device, irrespective of the platforms so that it successfully brings everybody together.
Companies that adopt online meeting tools should be able to protect their data and ensure secure communication and exchange. For this to happen seamlessly, it is essential that the software or tool needs to allow proper encryption facilities including confidentiality, authentication, and necessary permissions.
Finally, the price needs to be considered. There are free as well as paid online meeting tools, but it needs to ensure that most people can access the tool and remain connected at all times necessary. These licenses also ensure whether or not files can be shared by all or with all participants, media can be streamed or played by all participants, meetings can be recorded and shared, and so on.
There are a lot of free as well as paid online meeting tools that can be used by organizations, big or small. Before adopting a tool from the best web conferencing tools available, therefore, there need to be enough reasons to justify the selection of the most appropriate tool by an organization. Let us consider some of them and look for the most appropriate options.
Workplace by Facebook
As soon as we hear about Facebook, what comes to our mind is social media and a world full of friends. But Facebook offers so much more than just that. Workplace by Facebook is a collaborative communication tool that connects people across desktop as well as mobile devices. With features that are easy to adapt and embrace, individuals, as well as groups, can now easily connect over audio as well as video conferencing. Workplace by Facebook offers fair pricing and security while connecting people from more than 30,000 global organizations within their internal workspace as well as beyond. Workplace by Facebook offers individual as well as group messaging, audio, and video connectivity along with file and media sharing features.
It also provides for seamless streaming of videos that allows users to broadcast, announce, conduct meetings, and training across the organizations with as many as 50 people at the same time. Facebook like chat services helps share org charts and stay connected with colleagues or even locate them. With about 46 different languages supporting the tool, Workplace by Facebook also connects users to different enterprise tools like G Suite, Jira, Office 365, Dropbox and many more. To top it all, this meeting tool is accessible and available to anybody and everybody who owns any device across iOS, Android, or Windows platforms. Overall, Workplace by Facebook opens a whole new world of possibilities for any organization that is ready to embrace technology along with all its offerings and benefits.
The next big thing in the world of technology and connectivity in modern times is Amazon Cloud. With its retail and online shopping touching millions of lives globally, and its technology shaping the digital entertainment industry with elan, Amazon could not have been too far off in coming up with an enterprise communication tool. Amazon Chime, supported by its own cloud platform, can begin by boasting about its security and stability standards. Amazon Chime has a huge user base and this adds to the advantage it has over other communication tools. With a very strong backend platform supporting conferencing and communication services, this tool is priced conveniently and can accommodate a huge number of users under a single license, depending on the license type.
It offers seamless audio and video calling facilities with recording and playback facilities for online meetings. Supported by Alexa and other Amazon-specific features, Amazon Chime is the most effective way of keeping members or employees of an organization connected and on the same page. Accessible through Windows, Android, and iOS devices, Amazon Chime is easy to adapt to and supports scheduling and syncing meetings using organizational mailing services, with dial-in support. Additionally, it allows a visual roster that can track participation in meetings. It allows screen and media sharing and streaming facilities, ensuring file and media sharing using enterprise file-sharing system. Encryption and security are guaranteed with this tool with a single-sign-on that can enable users to use all Amazon services with a single log-in.
Cisco Webex Meetings
With a huge section of multinational corporates using Cisco Webex Meetings as their primary means of internal communication, this online communication tool has emerged as one of the top enterprise communication services available in the market. Supported by Cisco Collaboration Cloud, Cisco Webex Meetings offer round the clock support and very convenient conferencing facilities. Cisco is considered as one of the most secure and stable communication tools that can benefit organizations at large. Cisco offers personal as well as group calling facilities using audio as well as video support. There are personal and video conferencing services for presentations, training, and streaming of media.
Integrated with most mailing and calendar tools used by organizations, Webex is easy to use and can accommodate a large number of participants at the same time with seamless video streaming, recording, and playback options. Logged in users can share files and media easily with individuals as well as groups with ensured security. Webex Meetings offer polling, live chats, and multiple presenter options. It can, therefore, be used easily and conveniently to conduct training, host webinars, solve issues remotely, as well as have important business meetings and transactions. The huge customer base that Cisco supports successfully, offers the much-needed credibility to the tool that is one of the most trusted Online Meeting tools.
Known particularly for its stability and high-quality video output, Zoom Meeting is one of the most widely used communication tools. It is available in both free and paid versions with the free version offering a whole range of features and options. The paid version, of course, offers more diverse features and services. Zoom offers video conferencing and messaging across any device on any platform with complete ease of use and easily adaptable meeting capabilities that helps collaborate with a large number of users. With HD video and audio quality, the tool ensures a complete and effective exchange of information that is the primary need of our times.
Zoom Meetings can accommodate up to 1000 participants and 49 video screens in any video conference at any point in time. Multiple participants can simultaneously share screens and co- annotate for the most effective outcome. All meetings on Zoom are encrypted end-to-end and is secured with password protection and role-based user rights. Meetings can also be transcribed, recorded and shared as per requirement. It also enables polling and Q&A options, assign permissions at various levels and has dedicated dial-in global toll-free numbers. Zoom Meetings can also be integrated with Outlook, iCal or Gmail and scheduled or initiated with immediate effect. Customers who have switched to Zoom have all reported an increase in performance and employee engagement.
Slack is one of the more recent online meeting tools being adopted by more and more people as well as organizations. It is a cloud-based messaging platform that can connect individuals as well as groups using instant messaging, audio and video calling options. It can help share files with one or more people at the same time. Slack can also share media files and screenshots and depending on the license available to the enterprise or the users, video and audio meetings can be recorded and shared. Moreover, it can be integrated with other enterprise tools that manage and control productivity.
Slack was initially meant to replace mails by instant messaging services through secure and encrypted collaboration. With time, it has integrated a whole range of more advanced and sophisticated communication options including streaming of media, making presentations, and having group conferences. Slack is available on desktops as well as mobile devices across Windows, Android as well as iOS platforms. It is a tool used globally by most successful organizations. A very effective messaging and file sharing and streaming app, it can be an appropriate online meeting tool for all organizations.
Organizations now have a whole range of options to choose from while selecting an appropriate business conferencing software for web conferencing. So, pick the one that best meets your needs and make the most of technology to give your business an edge.