In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which neccessitated the closure of many businesses, coupled with the need to observe social distancing, there is now an urgent need for meetings and conferences to still go on even when half of the world is on stay-at-home lockdown. This need has brought to fore the importance of virtual meetings and the need adopt the work-from-home approach by businesses entitties.
So many organisations are relying on video conferencing to relate with most of their workers, who due to the lockdowm, are working from home.
Can you conduct your business as usual by taking your meetings to the cloud?
Digital collaborative tools that can enable remote and seamless interactions and realtime virtual interactions are the way out.
Here we present five enterprise level collaborative video conferencing applications that offer some free plans. Though some of them do have premium plans, especially if you need to have large number of persons per meeting or your meeting require longer hours.
With these tools, regular board meetings can go on, documents can be shared realtime and even religious bodies are taking advantage of these to hold their meetings online.
Zoom is one of the most popular video communication tools, developed to make remote collaboration easy and accessible. It has some features that makes it attractive for most users. One of them is the free access and easy of setup. It also has offline recording for easy playback of meeting sessions.
Zoom has a free plan that allow a user setup a meeting for a maximum of 100 persons. The free plan allows for a meeting duration of forty (40) minutes
To use zoom for video conferencing, you need to download the app on appropriate store depending on your device or connect via a web browser. With Zoom, you can get up to 100 video callers on the line at once, and see as many as 49 of them at the same time.
Jitsi Meet is free open source, Secure, Simple and Scalable full featured video conferencing platform built by a community of developers. You can use Jitsi Meet as a standalone app or embed in your web application
In order to use Jitsi for video conferencing, you either go to meet.jitsi.si for a web instance, or download the jitsi mobile app (IOS and Android). You can also setup your own Jitsi meet instance or embed a jitsi meet room into your website.
It is 100% free and can allow unlimited hours and unlimited attendees in one meeting
- 60-minutes video call ( Google said it won’t enforce that cap until after September, 30, 2020). So all video calls on the free plan will be unlimited till Sept 30.
- Maximum of 100 participants in a meeting with one host for free users. G suite users can have as much as 250 persons in one meeting.
- Meetings set up by free users can only be attended by persons with a Google account (@gmail or @googlemail)
- Meetings set up by free users do not include dial-in by phone. People without Internet can not dial in
- Real time captioning ( this is a novel feature for a free plan)
- The ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive
Microsoft Teams is a collaborative tool built on top of the Microsoft 365 Office offering by mycrosoft. It is a platform that combines persistent chat capabilities, video conferencing, file storage, and integration with many other Office 365 applications.
Microsoft Teams offers a free edition which allows users set up a conference with persons within their organisation and outside their organisation.
The free tier offers the following features;
- Unlimited chats, audio and video calls
- 10GB of file storage for your entire team
- 2GB of personal storage for each individual
- You can add as many as 300 people to your network of contacts
- Screen sharing
- Coauthoring: Access, share, and edit Word docs, PowerPoint, and Excel files in real time
Microsoft Teams integrates with all Office 365 apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, as well as more than 250 business apps.
Cisco Webex is a premium video conferencing platform that has been in use at the enterprise level for virtual meetings and conferences. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the free plan has been expanded to include some exciting features which might not been found by other
Wondering what you can do in the free version of Webex Meetings and Webex Teams
- Host up to 100 participants
- Meet as long as you want (no meeting time restrictions)
- Connect audio with Toll dial-in or over your computer (VoIP)
- Desktop, application, file & whiteboarding screen sharing
- Unlimited usage and number of meetings
- Join from your computer or mobile device
- Toll dial-in or Voice over IP (VoIP) that uses your computer to connect your audio to the video conference.
- Multiple video views, including active speaker and thumbnail view, grid view, floating view.
- Desktop, application, file & whiteboarding screen sharing.
- Webex Personal Room that serves as your own virtual office for starting meetings instantly, scheduling ahead, or leaving open for drop-ins.
- Calendar integrations, including Google and Microsoft
- Meeting recordings in easy-to-share MP4 files.
There are several other video conferencing platforms that also offer great values both on their free and paid plans, but for us, these five stand out interms of level of use, robustness and ease of use.
Let us know what you think.