Technology has globalized the workforce, providing new opportunities for companies that might not have otherwise been able to work together. A business owner in Ohio can hire a specialized worker in Japan without spending a dime on travel, all thanks to the ability to have face-to-face communication using little more than a couple of pieces of hardware and software. Skype chats have become a regular part of doing business, usable for free with many of today’s PCs and mobile devices.
While Skype is certainly a free, easy-to-use solution for videoconferencing, some of its functionality can be limiting for business users. Many small business owners have found alternatives to Skype that provide more targeted support for their specific needs. Here are a few suggestions from some of the best minds in small business today.
“Skype is great for voice, but we use a few other solutions,” Greg Brooks, founder of textbook rental service TextbookAssault.com, says. “For a very quick and free solution, I recommend trying join.me. A new visitor can set up a conference in about ten seconds and does not need to register. For impromptu meetings, join.me is great.”
Brooks also points out that for $149 per year, businesses can upgrade to join.me Pro and host meetings involving up to 250 participants. The pro version includes unlimited audio conferencing and management and reporting services.
“As a 100 percent teleworking company, HiringThing uses videoconferencing for both internal and external meetings,” a spokesperson for the Cloud-based online recruiting service says. “We find it’s easy for customers to use and it provides the opportunity to have several people in one meeting, share screens, and record the meeting.”
Another benefit to GoToMeeting is that it has become a popular videoconferencing solution for many businesses. As HiringThing points out, the fact that clients are already familiar with the service helps meetings run more smoothly.
Social media marketing firm ReSoMe founder Shawna Tregunna moved to Google Hangouts after using Skype for a while. “A few quick plugin downloads and you can be up and running. We now use Skype mostly for chat and Google Hangouts for video conferences and for screen sharing.”
Tregunna especially likes the way Google Hangouts showcases who is talking, as well as the ability to easily share screens with others on the call. Hangouts also integrates well with other Google apps, Tregunna adds.
Collexion’s Peter C. Kirwan, Jr. raves about this Samsung Smart TV, which includes integration with Skype. A small startup, Collexion is using several tools for remote collaboration of team members. Kirwan found that using the Smart TV’s built-in video camera and included Skype app, they are able to hold meetings with team members and partners, even sharing desktops between locations during meetings.
“The nice thing is everyone has Skype, so we can tie anyone into it without special hardware,” Kirwan says, adding that having the screen in his conference room allows his on-site group to join in on the meeting. “The large size of the TV makes it seem like the person is really there.”
“We first started using Skype, but then made the switch to EasyMeeting.net,” WAM Enterprises LLC president Mike Wolfe says. “It’s Cloud-based and allows us to use it on any device (we have a Bring Your Own Device policy). We can also use it with clients on their hardware.”
As busy entrepreneurs increasingly need to connect with clients and co-workers from anywhere, solutions will likely become more robust and competitive. Businesses are already beginning to save thousands of dollars by using videoconferencing solutions to save and store training videos, meet with clients, and attend webinars with experts in their chosen industries. Thanks to the innovative minds behind technology solutions, businesses can remove geographic restrictions and work more globally.
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