Can you see me now?

Working from homeVideo calls have become a staple of business communication. Most business communications packages, including those by Google and Microsoft, already include some form of video capability.

At Cartwheel, we use video to communicate with each other when working remotely, conducting interviews with candidates, and in some client meetings. Since we use a number of different video applications, we wanted to share our take on which work best.

For businesses that rely on very high-quality video and audio, we recommend stand-alone systems such as BlueJeans. Although they require expert implementation and are costly,  these systems can integrate into existing phone systems, reserve bandwidth on your network, and have advanced features such as recording and broadcasting.

For the rest of us that want decent video conferencing ability, but don’t mind the occasional hiccup in quality, below are the ones we’ve used. Note that all these applications offer both iOS and Android apps for video on the go.

Video for internal communication

  • Slack: We were originally skeptical of Slack’s usefulness, but have grown to love it. Primarily used for team communication, Slack helps eliminate lots of back and forth emails. Slack has both audio and video conferencing, and both are very good. In addition to a simple, effective interface, Slack recently added  screen sharing. However, we do sometimes experience video dropping while on calls with many users.
  • Google Hangouts: For those using G-Suite for email, Hangouts is the logical choice. Fortunately, it’s also a very solid one. Google has combined its chat and video capability in Hangouts. The video and audio sound quality are strong, however the integration into other Google tools is a little confusing. For instance, clicking on Contacts from Hangouts does not bring up your G-Suite Contacts, but instead takes you to your “Hangouts” contacts. Why another list?
  • Skype for Business: For Microsoft Office 365 users, Skype for Business is included in most packages. In typical Microsoft fashion, Skype for Business is a combination of a few different applications and platforms. Lync, the now retired chat application, and the consumer version of Skype were combined onto the Office 365 platform. This can make things a bit confusing to set up, but once you do, you’ll find Skype for Business a solid video experience.

Video for external communication

Communicating with people outside your organization, customers or vendors for instance, requires a different type of video application. Features such as easy sign-in, browser-based clients, and quick set-up are important requirements.

  • Zoom: A heavily funded “unicorn”, Zoom has grown by offering simple, high-quality video calls, webinars, and training tools. We’ve had a few calls through Zoom, and found the application easy to install, and the video quality excellent.
  • ClickMeeting: This marketing company spin-off focuses on webinars, and includes branding and recording tools. The price is right for events up to 500 people, and the set-up is relatively easy.
  • Webex:  One of the earliest entries in the video conferencing and webinar market, Webex has tried to keep up with the competition with a number of different options, including screen-sharing and phone dial-in capability. Still, the application feels stale, the install is a bit messy, and the pricing is not as favorable as some of the newcomers.