When evaluating video conferencing solutions, there are a number of factors that will help you narrow down your choices. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
How many participants will sit on your calls?
Do participants live in different time zones, countries, or continents? Are the majority employees, customers, or potential clients?
How frequently will you have calls? And how long will the calls generally last?
How important is security and encryption to your business?
Do you need to integrate with other applications? Google Calendar, Outlook, Google docs, etc.?
Would you like recordings of your calls?
Let’s go step by step through each of these questions to help you evaluate the best video conferencing solution for your company.
Number of participants and ability to scale
Video conferencing solutions are often billed by either the number of participants, minutes used, or licenses. Each of these billing methods can be advantageous depending on the size of your company and how often your participants will be video conferencing.
For example, November and December for sales teams can be months that are light on calls. Companies aren’t as interested in purchasing at the end of the year and employees take time off for the holidays. When billing on usage, your November and December bills wouldn’t be as high because you’re only paying for the minutes you used.
On the flip side, if your employees are constantly on video calls, it might be worth it to pay for licenses and have a fixed rate. The best fit will differ from business to business, so it’s worth it to crunch the numbers and see what makes the most sense for your company.
If you’re concerned about your company’s ability to scale with video conferencing, find out if the solution can support your projected increase in usage. It could be easier for your company to scale with a custom solution rather than an out-of-the-box offering, since custom can provide greater flexibility and reliability.
And last, consider how easy or challenging it will be for your IT team to initially set up the solution, as well as set up new employees. This can have a huge impact on scalability as your company grows.
Location of participants
If your participants are in different time zones or countries, you may find yourself in a video conference call that’s lagging quite a bit. This lag is often attributed to poor internet connection, but it can also be because video conferencing services do not have servers in other countries. This makes the connection much slower for participants in areas where there aren’t local servers.
If you have a global business, or even one that’s across 2 or 3 time zones, look for a solution that has multiple servers worldwide. Twilio Programmable Video, for example, has servers in 9 data centers around the world as well as a feature called Global Low Latency (GLL) that automatically finds the best server to connect participants.
To download or not
If your employees are on a number of client-facing video calls, it’s easiest to use a platform that does not require the client to download or install any software. For employees who use the software for mostly internal meetings, downloading the software isn’t as much of a hurdle.
Frequency & length of calls
Many companies charge by the frequency and length of call. If you opt for a few free video conferencing solutions, beware that many cap the number of calls you can have and/or the length of that call.
Quality of video
If you’re video conferencing with your fellow team members, high-quality video may not be as important of a factor. However, if you’re presenting to clients, you probably want a service with higher quality video and ability to adjust to different network conditions.
Security & encryption
With so many more people working remotely, the number of hackers attempting to intercept video calls has also risen. The need for security and encrypted connections has dramatically increased.
Particular industries, like finance and medical, will need even more stringent protections in place to ensure their customers’ and patients’ privacy is protected. If you fall into this category, look for video conferencing solutions that are GDPR compliant and/or HIPAA eligible.
Enterprise companies will want to consider the easiest (and most secure) methods for their employees to access the video conferencing solution. If employees have to enter their password each time they log into their account, they’ll be more susceptible to hackers. Twilio, for example, provides developers access tokens to control who can join the video conferences. Enterprise companies will want to look out for video conferencing solutions that can integrate with single sign on (SSO), two factor authentication with verification codes, and/or software management systems.
If it’s important for your company to review meetings after the fact, look for services that offer recordings of videos. Some of these services limit the number of recordings you can make, while others charge per minute the meetings you record. Also consider where and how you can store recordings. This is crucial for some industries to meet data compliance regulations.
And lastly, think about the security of those recordings. If the meetings being recorded are confidential, you’ll want to ensure that the recording is password protected. For added security, look for companies that can encrypt recordings. Twilio encrypts its recordings with a public and private key.
Video conferencing solutions that can be accessed with a mobile device will be useful for teams frequently on-the-go. While it’s unlikely that many teams are traveling during this pandemic, it’s also helpful to have a backup option if there are technical difficulties on the participant’s computer.
Do you need your video conferencing solution to integrate with your email calendars like Google or Outlook, a shared drive, or be able to share your screen as you present? Evaluate what collaborative elements are most important to the success of your video conferencing.
Twilio, for example, allows you to connect APIs to its existing infrastructure to add other channels. Consider integrating with short message service (SMS) or Slack to receive appointment reminders. You could also provide backup channels like dialing in over the phone via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) for participants who have low bandwidth or no internet connection.
Additional ways to connect
If video conferencing is outside of the budget, consider voice conferencing using programmable voice. Additionally, when using video conferencing, you can use SIP trunking to join the conference by dialing a phone number. A SIP trunk is the virtual version of a phone line, removing the need for a physical connection to a phone company while providing a speedy connection for Voice over IP (VoIP).
With SIP trunking, you have the same level of connectivity over the phone with unlimited ability to scale. Find more information on Twilio’s SIP trunking solution here.