Ultimate Guide for Video-Conferencing and Collaboration Tools for Business

— August 23, 2017

The video conference is easy today because everyone is connected to the Internet. The former VoIP customers have become mainstream players (Skype, Google Hangout,). We use video conferencing tools mainly for collaborative work, exchanges requiring to show screens or transmit documents in real time, job interviews, telecommuting…


Communicating is a vital need for a company, but communicating through modern tools will not make you lose 20 minutes at the start of each meeting.


7 video conferencing tools for businesses


Appear.in


By far the easiest to use. Let me explain: and if nobody needed to be registered anywhere or download an application … It was utopian, and it is now possible with Appear.in



  • No need to create an account.
  • No need to download software or an application.
  • Naturally, works with any browser.
  • 8 participants max video (12 in premium).
  • Available on smartphones.
  • screen sharing.

Google Hangouts



  • Chat (possible) with 150 people
  • Maximum 10 video participants
  • Available on smartphones
  • screen sharing
  • Free, but requires a Google Account for each participant

Skype (Microsoft)



  • 15 video participants max
  • chat
  • screen sharing
  • Free, but requires a Microsoft account for each participant

Sometimes problems between individual and enterprise versions, so you can also use other Skype alternative solutions.


Amazon Chime



  • 16 video participants max
  • chat
  • screen sharing
  • Paying (30 days free trial) $ 2.5 / month (and per person)

OOvOO.com



  • 12 participants
  • chat
  • YouTube video sharing for simultaneous viewing
  • free

Uber Conference



  • 10 participants in free mode, 100 people in pro version
  • chat
  • Sharing screens and documents
  • Free / pro version at $ 15 / month

Webex (Cisco)



  • 3 participants in free, 100 to 3000 participants paying
  • chat
  • YouTube video sharing for simultaneous viewing
  • Free or Pro version 15 € / month

Collaborative Work Tools for Business


Shared calendar, synchronized folders, video conferencing … all services and collaborative work tools that develop quickly. But how to choose the most appropriate? Inventory of collaborative business trends and advice.


What are collaborative tools?
Also known as Groupware, they include different software and technology “bricks” to work together remotely. Accessible from a fixed workstation or mobile device (Smartphone or tablet), these collaborative tools make it easy to share data and information (appointments, contacts, messages …). The master word is synchronization: all elements are updated in real time and can be consulted everywhere.


A tool for sharing the agenda, to better organize teamwork
When a team of collaborators needs to work in “project” mode, one of the key elements to facilitate the organization of meetings is the sharing of the agenda: it is a calendar managed jointly by a team of people “Accredited “- with personal login and password.


According to the shared sharing tool, different options are available: to allow or prohibit access to events, to know the availability of other people, to propose meetings, to identify available rooms…
It saves time and productivity because it is no longer necessary to consult a third party or send multiple emails to know the availability of each. Bonus: Schedules can be imported in Word, Excel and PDF format before being printed.


Sharing Tools does help you to reach and communicate with employees, virtual staff. This helps you to collaborate better with a team and keep the close eye on the project timeline. Other benefits of useful tools are that you can motivate your employee to boost productivity.


Instant messaging: for real-time communication


Need urgent information that one of your employees holds? A question to ask which you are certain he has the answer? With instant messaging, no more cross-calls, small post-it left on the keyboard, or unnecessary e-mail exchanges cluttering inboxes.


A place to a tool of distance work that frees itself of the kilometers, but also of the time that separates the question of its answer. Indeed, that is more convenient and even faster than e-mail to get information from a collaborator. Besides, indexing and archiving of conversations make it easy to find accurate data.


However, you should establish codes of conduct – such as Skype or Yahoo! Messenger that allows, for example, to display an icon indicating its status “busy,” “available” or “disconnected.”


File sharing tool: to avoid saturating mailboxes


To exchange, send or receive files, especially bulky, online data hosting (Cloud Computing) is THE solution. Indeed, the Cloud allows freeing space – whether on the fixed workstation or the mobile terminals whose storage capacities are sometimes limited (although they can be increased by the addition of a memory card Of micro SD type).
Today, there are many platforms offered by US companies (such as Google [Google Drive], Microsoft [SkyDrive] or Dropbox), which provide solutions adapted to file sharing and mobility.


Precision: The collaborative tools of American companies are subject to the Patriot Act and the Advocacy Policy. In fact, all the contents entrusted can be exploited for information purposes…
Otherwise, most of these services offer iOS, Android, or even Windows Phone or BlackBerry applications, allowing access to files from tablets and smartphones.


The limit of these offers online? The free storage space only covers a few GB. And the paid versions have very variable prices, which are difficult to compare because the permitted storage ranges are very different.


Document synchronization: to have the latest version


When several employees have to work on the same file, the risks of making an error or overwriting a version are multiplied. Most cloud services offer the ability to synchronize documents and folders stored on their servers.


A synchronization that can be one-way (unidirectional) or two-way (bidirectional). Unidirectional, changes made to a document from a workstation cause the same document saved online to be refreshed. This option does not allow collaborative work.


Conversely, to benefit from a real remote working tool, bi-directional synchronization is more suitable, since each member of the group can modify a single document, which can then be found on each workstation, locally. Nevertheless, it is prudent to regularly back up files on different media to limit erasure by mistake or loss of a version.


Video conferencing: to quickly organize meetings


When different professional teams, spread over several sites, need to make stage points without wasting time, one of the preferred remote working tools is video conferencing. This solution, which prevents employees from moving, allows real-time communication, thus reducing organization time and meeting costs.


All you have to do now is to book a slot on a web interface and video conferencing starts at the appointed time and on all the sites selected. Moreover, with HD video, high-performance audio and the ability to project multimedia content that can be shared and modified in real time and remotely, exchanges are optimized.


Moreover, the proposed functions are numerous (presentation of balance sheets, the organization of seminars [webinars], meetings and distance learning, e-learning …) which makes this kind of tools working remotely turn out very Interesting, especially for multi-site SMEs.


Tools for sharing calendar, files, instant messaging, synchronization of documents, and storage in the Cloud, are all solutions that simplify and streamline the daily professional. These collaborative tools have gradually modified the way of working in companies, and the SFR Pack Business Entrepreneurs package brings them together in an all-in-one offering that follows this natural evolution.


5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Videoconferencing Solution


After many searches, you are finally ready and convinced that a video conferencing solution is an asset for your business! But you do not know how to set it up or what mistakes to avoid when you want to invest in such a solution.
If you are in this case, then you are in the right place, and I invite you to read more 😉


ERROR # 1: TAKING A PROPRIETARY SYSTEM


To address this notion, it is important to define it.


There are two types of solutions:



  • Standard solution: the H323 / SIP protocol is the professional standard (grouping several specialized protocols: video (MPEG4), audio (G7xxx) and data (H239). With this protocol, your video conferencing system can “speak” to any other standard equipment.
  • Proprietary solutions: these solutions do not use this standard and require gateways to exchange with the H323 / SIP protocol, which is why it is difficult to deploy these solutions in the professional world.

To illustrate my point, Skype and Hangout are for example proprietary solutions: Skype will only talk with Skype, and Hangout will only discuss with Hangout.


After this brief explanation, you will understand that choosing a proprietary solution is a limitation of your business. You will answer me: ‘yes, but we only use video conferencing internally, which is why Skype / Hangout suits us very well.’ But it must be understood that video conferencing will have to be exponentially democratized in the years to come, and you will not only use it internally but also with your suppliers, customers and not necessarily use the same solution that you. There you will be bothered.


Also, it will be necessary for the future to invite your external partners from a simple browser, which the proprietary solutions do not allow.


ERROR # 2: THINKING THAT THE POSITIONING OF THE CAMERA DOES NOT MATTER
The positioning of the camera is of great importance for several points that I will detail:



  • Eye-contact: The camera must be placed in such a way as to film all participants and be placed at eye level. As with a real interview, people can look in their eyes.
  • Visual fatigue: natural light must be perpendicular to the screen to avoid back-light, a factor in visual fatigue.
  • Consumption of the bandwidth: the natural light is not stable, it consumes more bandwidth in video conference because the principle of it is to encode all the pixels that move.

ERROR # 3: THINK THAT THE ERGONOMICS OF THE ROOM IS NOT IMPORTANT


For the use of video conferencing under optimum conditions, several points should attract your attention :



  • The furniture: it must be adapted and allow all the participants to see the screen and to be all seen by the remote site
  • Acoustics: Avoid choosing a room with glass walls. This contributes to the reverberation of the sound which will degrade it into video conferencing. It is advisable, if you are in this case, to provide one or two walls dressed with an acoustic absorbing material
  • Lighting: in general, it is desirable that each participant in the room should be adequately illuminated (approximately 200 lux)

ERROR # 4: THINK THAT BANDWIDTH IS NOT NECESSARY


To have a good experience in video conferencing, that is to say in high definition (720p) and a sound of good quality (no audio cut), it is necessary to count about 1Mb / remote site.


Without this minimum amount of throughput, you can frustrate your employees in the use of video conferencing and make their interviews impossible from a distance.


ERROR # 5: THINKING THAT PRODUCT TESTING IS NOT NECESSARY


A good video conferencing solution can quickly represent a significant cost in the business. Before you take the plunge, your integrator must be able to try different solutions: to you but especially to your future users so that you can choose the one that is best for you regarding use.

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Author: Aashish Sharma


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