Video Conferencing Services
The video conferencing services market is expected to reach US$ 6.40 Billion by 2020 from the current $3.31 Billion.
However, there are also concerns for the equipment market – IDC reports – “The worldwide enterprise videoconferencing equipment market has been experiencing some downs lately — with consecutive quarters and two years of declining revenue growth in 2013 (-13.1%) and 2012 (-5.0%). This is mostly attributed to the impact of delayed customer buying decisions, lower-cost systems, more software-centric solutions, and the rise of cloud-based video services offerings for business. On the bright side, most or all of the videoconferencing equipment vendors are now offering cloud-based video alternatives for customers.“
The good news is that there is still a huge market as video conferencing will continue to be one of the most relied upon forms of communication by businesses. There are a vast number of different services and competitors to choose from in the marketplace, and this article will aim to draw attention to some of the diverse options available to both large and small companies; it is not necessarily a list of ‘biggest’ or ‘best’. This list contains a combination of both cloud based video and conferencing services.
WebEx is both widely known and widely used. According to their website, 51 million people per month attend a WebEx meeting, there are 3 billion minutes of video conferencing a month on their service, and 93 percent of Fortune 100 companies use Cisco’s video collaborate services. The free account gives you three people per meeting, while up to 100 people costs £49 per month.
Blue Jeans’ customers include Facebook, Office Depot, Stanford University and Match.com, so you can be certain they are a trustworthy supplier. They were a ‘Top 10 Cloud Start-up’ in a recent feature by CIO Magazine, and have experienced more than 500 percent growth in the last two years. The biggest benefit of their service is that it enables interoperability between all major video platforms.
The AvayaLive Video service offers video collaboration in the cloud. Due to the lack of necessary capital investment and technical expertise to set it up, it makes the service perfect for small start-ups. The first thirty days are free, then the cost goes up to $99 minimum.
No list of video conferencing services would be complete without Microsoft’s ubiquitous offering. Businesses can benefit from Skype buttons on their website, Skype numbers that accept non-Skype calls, and a ‘Skype Manager’ which can create accounts, allocate credit, and manage features.
Clients of StarLeaf include Dr Martens shoes, Mercedes Benz, and Carglass, all of who offer testimonials on their website. They offer alternative systems for meeting rooms, desktop users, and mobile workers. As with most cloud services, you’ll get all the benefits of video conferencing without the hassles typically associated with owning, managing and maintaining the system.
Lifesize isn’t cheap, and is typically aimed at larger firms. A 12 month contract for 100 users costs $12,999 per year ($11 per employee, per month), while a large scale deployment for 500 people costs $27,999 per year. It offers the best of point-to-point, multipoint, and streaming collaboration, without needing to configure anything yourself.
Zoom have 65,000 clients, including Texas A&M University, Drexel University, and DLA Piper. Their free plan, which is perfect for SMEs and start-ups, allows up to 25 users, unlimited 1-to-1 meetings, and an unlimited number of meetings – however, each meeting is limited to 40 minutes. Their paid plans are either $9.99 or $49.99 per user, depending on the features you require.
Polycom claim to have “the industry’s most interoperable, scalable, and secure UC platform”, which offers business-to-business collaboration that’s independent of application, system, or device. It even integrates contacts directly from Facebook and Google Hangouts. Clients include Ireland’s Chamber of Commerce, the British National Health Service (NHS), and alcohol manufacturers Heineken.
LoopUp was founded in 2003 and has entered the conferencing space in 2006. LoopUp sells direct to the enterprise market and via major distribution partners including Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, BT, and Cable & Wireless Communications. They offer 24×7 global support, Free Administrator tools, Dedicated account management and flexible Pay As You Go plans.
Along with Skype, Google Hangouts is the other ‘big hitter’, well-known to people around the world rather than solely in industry circles. If your company uses Google’s other services such as Calendar, Keep, and Drive, the app with integrate with them flawlessly. It lacks some of technical aspects of the other offerings in the list, but is great for very small teams and start-ups.
Vidyo aims to sell itself to the distributed workforce market. Forrester Research, the well-known market analysis firm, uses it to connect 2,200 staff around the world, while CERN, the research lab in Switzerland, uses it to connect a massive 20,000 employees globally. The entire system is web-based, meaning employees can use any device to plug into conferences regardless of where they are.
Adobe® Connect™ is one of the most recognized name in web conferencing platform for web meetings, eLearning, and webinars. It powers mission critical web conferencing solutions end-to-end, on virtually any device, and enables organizations from leading corporations to the U.S. Department of Defense to fundamentally improve productivity. Their pricing starts at $45 US per month.
One of the most recognized names in video conferencing. Gotomeeting owned by Citrix is no stranger to this competitive market. They’ve been in business for over 10 years and have a huge list of clients and options for both start-ups and Enterprise businesses.
IVCi’s cloud video service can include traditional endpoints, multiple software clients, and an assortment of desktop and mobile devices. They also offer ‘virtual meeting rooms’ that will allow multiple participants to meet face-to-face, and interoperability with Microsoft Lync and WebRTC. They’ve been in operation for 18 years.
Operated by tech giant Brother, OmniJoin is their cloud-based web conferencing service. The 14 day trial is free, and from there they offer three main plans; Omnijoin Lite for up to 8 users (but without file transfer) costs $15 per month, OmniJoin Main which costs $29 a month for up to 12 users and 1080p HD quality, and OmniJoin Pro for 20 users for $59 per month.
Have you used any of the services we discussed? Perhaps you have your own service that didn’t make our list? We love to hear from you – let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
By Daniel Price