Have you ever gotten off a phone call with a colleague or a representative wishing there had been a method to convey ideas, crucial discussion points, and results of processes in a detailed fashion? Did you yearn for a face-to-face dialogue to reduce miscommunication? Well, the answer to your prayers has been around for quite a while.
Video telephony and Conferencing techniques are a very important part of office culture today. With a shift to a Work From Home (WFH) for many employees, video solutions have become imperative within companies to ensure that all employees, workers, and staff have aligned themselves to its vision. Video Telephony systems have had a wide range of acceptance, from schools and colleges to mining zones.
This blog seeks to help prospective buyers of video conferencing software understand the characteristics and benefits of this kind of software, while highlighting the best eight free and open source solutions presently leading in the market.
What is Video Conferencing?
A relatively modern form of communication, video conferencing enables two or more individuals or groups of people to share their thoughts, ideas, and data over audio and video channels in real-time, irrespective of their geographical location.
You can conduct video conferencing between computer terminals, laptops, or mobile devices that run the same specialized video conferencing software and have the necessary peripheral tools (such as web cameras, microphones, etc.), along with a high-speed internet connection and technological infrastructure.
The initiation of video calls occurs between two end-points, which are usually computer devices. These devices have a unique identification address associated with them. (UserNames are a unique address used to set-up calls).
A user starts the video call at one end-point on the proprietary software. On initiation, video processing tools, video conferencing servers, and integrating software play their respective parts in ensuring the call takes place with full video and audio clarity, even taking into account technological processes at the receiver’s end.
Video conferencing solutions are easy to use and deploy at scale. They provide simple users with the opportunity to stay in touch and increase business accessibility.
Importance of Video Conferencing in the 21st century
Video conferencing is a new standard of internet communication. It has increased accessibility between users and organizations through which businesses can conduct business faster and more efficiently than previously.
Through the implementation of video conferencing, organizations have reduced travel and operations costs to a large extent. Seamless scheduling of meetings instead of the traditional hassles of scheduling and organizing rooms is now easily possible. This is particularly true for people working in multinational companies (MNCs) across various time zones. Team meetings, no matter how critical, are held through video conferencing methods.
Video conferencing also allows businesses to build relationships with vendors from all over the world. Proving a vendor’s authenticity does not need a site meeting now. All analysis and proof are available online. Similarly, setting up strategic partnerships through extensive interviews and deliberations happens over a video conferencing platform in a conference room. It does not require actual face-to-face meetings up until the final stage of negotiations.
Similarly, keynote conferences do not require a speaker’s presence on stage, a video link with good internet does the job. Debates are better conducted virtually on a video platform.
Video conferencing software companies have seen a spurt in demand for their products considering a parallel shift to a Work From Home (WFH) culture. Such situations have also forced companies to recruit employees for all kinds of roles – resulting in greater employment opportunities.
Evolution of Video Telephony
In which sectors have Video Conferencing Software made a major impact?
Education is one of the most important sectors impacted positively by video conferencing software. With the integration of video conferencing services into their product, Ed-Tech companies can serve educational demand for courses on their platforms with ease – helping remote learning.
Another sector to benefit by far from the implementation of video conferencing is the health industry. Doctors can consult patients in rural or hard to access areas, virtually. Similarly, video conferencing saves lives on battlefields, as well as rescue operations. Experts provide their inputs to on-field staff about innovative procedures to save lives.
The impact of video conferencing software is visible in governments’ operations in sectors ranging from agriculture to disaster management. With on-ground information being filtered to authorities almost instantaneously, decision making becomes robust and outcomes, more productive.
Video conferencing is especially crucial in the media and entertainment industry. Streaming services operate on the same video conferencing principle. Over the Top, (OTT) providers such as Netflix are viable thanks to the aforementioned architecture. Debates, political speeches, and interviews can be broadcast live or recorded and then streamed over video conferencing platforms.
As stated earlier, industries from around the world – from automobiles to environment – have all benefited from the ubiquity of video conferencing, which allows for easy exchange of plans and information, irrespective of personnel location. Management-employee meetings are also conducted over video conferencing platforms flawlessly.
What are the essentials for running a successful Video Conference?
First and foremost, the user must have a high-speed, working internet connection. The speed of the internet must be stable, considering the intense bandwidth video conferencing tools take up. Any drop in quality will proportionally affect video and sound quality.
Video conferences also require webcams to be up and running. All factors considered and stable; the clarity of webcams significantly affects videos. Microphones are also necessary for participants to contribute and communicate with others at the conference. They are generally tested before a call to ensure both participants on the call can be heard. These devices are either inbuilt into the devices or can come as auxiliary parts.
Also, a good speaker system needs to be available to users to help ensure they can hear participants on the call.
Finally, there are two main considerations for users. As video conferencing requires the implementation of complex technological architecture, it is important to have a stable and functionally competent video conferencing software running on a device which can support it – like a computer, mobile, or tablet. The software is especially significant as it requires careful purchase and good technical support. The devices are important as they generally consist of tools required for the video conference.
Running through this checklist with a fine-toothed comb before a call ensures a smooth experience.
Interviews and Video Conferencing – An HR fad or something more permanent?
In the HR world, video conferencing is already being used to screen candidates for interviews. Several restrictions on a person’s presence at an interview center can also be easily mitigated with the help of video conferencing software to conduct interviews.
Companies interviewing prospective recruits at B-schools around the globe turn to video conferencing to help students learn about the company and what the job offers. Video interviews as a ‘Round Zero’ generally help companies zoom in on candidates faster, especially where niche skill sets are in demand. The aforementioned type of interview process is here to stay.
Firstly, companies have lower expenditure. Think about a situation where companies have to recruit candidates from different locations and the candidate has to fly-in for an interview to a location determined by the company. The interviewer has to reimburse the travel and accommodation charges of the interviewee. Video Conferencing Software allows instantaneous conduct of interviews from any location, helping companies save money.
Secondly, functionality matters for HRs. Interviews recording for future purposes and for cross-examinations is a boon. Files between the candidate and the company professional can be instantly shared if needed over a phone call – such as updated CVs and identity proofs. Similarly, other functionalities offer the complete bouquet to interviewers.
Thirdly, it helps companies make quick decisions on hiring human capital. With the aforementioned
‘Round Zero,’ companies gain turn-around times, leading to faster employment of human capital and increased productivity.
Fourthly, companies can save important resources for other necessities as demanded. Video conferencing allows companies to schedule interviews and share links instantaneously. This removes the burden of booking centers for multiple interviews or waiting rooms to house candidates. Optimization of the entire interview process is possible – to ensure candidates are available from a place they’re comfortable with and save time in travel and waiting.
Based on the evidence above, it is easy to conclude that Video Conferencing in HR is a revolution that is not just a fad.
What is video conferencing software?
Highlighted as one of the most important software solutions of the 21st century, video conferencing software assists in the communication between two independent users over the digital medium. These users may be part of the same organization or different companies. Video conferencing systems utilize a host of internet, online server, and video conferencing architecture to enable users to conduct virtual meetings, seminars, or even discussions irrespective of the location or the time.
Besides just video, online video conferencing tools employ a gamut of technological innovations such as real-time chat support, audio communication, and data reporting through computer networks to deliver an enriching experience to users.
Video conferencing solutions help pepper over the cracks in traditional forms of communications with its enriched portfolio of features and instant face-to-face dialogue. The cost for setting up video conferencing systems is minimal, too, making it an attractive proposition.
Why is video conferencing software essential for businesses?
Video telephony software is a vital lifeline of the corporate world, especially in times of remote collaboration and distributed working. From interdepartmental meetings to inter-organizational discussions, online video conferencing software has found its ubiquity in everyday lives. Some reasons why it is imperative for businesses to invest in video conferencing software is as follows –
- Increased Collaboration – Video conferencing tools promote collaboration between different departments of the same organization and help eliminate communication gaps.
- Improved Cost-Efficiency – With the implementation of video call tools, people can now work remotely. Any conferences or meetings that require face-to-face deliberation can now be conducted without the need for transport or reservations of any kind. This has a major impact on the company’s bottom line operations cost.
- Enhanced Productivity – With users now being able to communicate constantly, rather than over email, ideas can be shared faster, and action can be taken quickly. This helps businesses in their search for increased outputs.
- Auxiliary functions – Whether its document and screen sharing, or if adding users to a private conversation, auxiliary functions of video conferencing tools help accomplish tasks while the meeting is progressing, which helps businesses process information faster through key decision-makers.
Features of Video Conferencing Software
Advantages of Video Conferencing Software
Top Free and Open Source Video Conferencing Software
A popular free and open source video conferencing software, Jitsi ensures seamless connectivity for its users. The Video Telephony Software is built with many components, two of the important being Jitsi Meet and Jitsi Videobridge, which propel the video conferencing capability.
Jitsi is available as software-to-download on all major operating systems and has an army of developers seeking to push the limits of video conferencing capabilities.
Source – Jitsi
Some of the most important features of the video conferencing system are as follows:
- Platform Independent
- SDK – To facilitate easy integration into third-party software or web browsers
- Dialling-in to a conference via telephone
- Reporting & analytics dashboard
- Screen Sharing
- Real-Time Text chatting
- Stream to YouTube (Keynote speeches)
- Conference room Locking
- Push-to-talk mode
- Shared Text Notepads
Powered by Apaches License 2.0, Open Meetings is a free and open source video conferencing software that helps users conduct online meetings, classes, seminars, and other video-oriented communications. The video call software has multiple features that make it a perfect collaborative tool, or groupware, as well. Deploying the software is simple and it uses the API of Media Server for executing video conferencing functions, using a combination of HTML5 and Flash.
Source – OpenMeetings
Some of the features of the Free Video Conferencing Software are as follows:
- Meeting Recording
- Screen Sharing
- Text chat functionality with private messaging functionality
- File Explorer
- Polls and Voting
- Integrated calendar for scheduling
- Multi-user Whiteboard/Notepad
- User Management
- Room Management and Locking
- Unlimited Video Conferencing
An open source video conferencing software, OpenVidu helps users integrate real-time communication functionalities into their web browser or third-party application. The free video conferencing software provides a stack of technologies, such as the WebRTC conference Infrastructure that allows users to place video calls over the web through any integrated software.
Source – OpenVidu
Some features of the Video Telephone System are as follows –
- Screen Recording
- Screen Sharing
- Speech detection
- Voice and video filters
- Automatic reconnections
- IP Cameras for surveillance & Security
- Message Broadcasting
- Room Locking & Privacy
- Easy Integration into Third-Party applications
Created by InterMedia, AnyMeeting a free video-conferencing software is a platform-independent tool that enables businesses to conduct meetings and webinars hassle-free.
It has a suite of features that make the entire experience smarter and actionable. It has a free version that businesses can subscribe too, before moving to more feature-heavy versions.
Source – AnyMeeting
Some features of the video call system are as follows:
- HD Audio and Video
- Screen Sharing
- Screen Annotation
- Easy Third-Party Integrations
- Meeting Transcripts and Recording
- Remote Control – Allowing participants control of your keyboard and mouse
- Custom Branding options
- Insight engine for calls
Software giant Adobe’s foray into video conferencing software comes with Adobe Connect. The video conference tool has been built keeping five principles in mind – security, easy customization of classrooms for brand resonance, engaging, powerful, and persistent. It is platform-independent and is used by over 15000 companies worldwide. It is easy to set-up all sorts of video communication platforms, from seminars to classroom and learning.
Source – AdobeConnect
Some of the features of video conferencing solution are as follows:
- Persistent Classrooms – Virtual learning centers with fixed templates designed to be accessed forever. Easy reset of the classroom for next session if required.
- Learning Management System Integrations
- Content Creation – Use tools such as Adobe Captivate and Adobe Presenter to create learning content on the video conferencing platform
- Meeting Recording
- Meeting security and privacy tools
- Easy third party integration using APIs
- Multi-device mobility
- Registration Management
- Reporting and Analytics
- Brandable and customizable interface
A free and open source video telephony system, BigBlueButton has been created with the intention of helping students and administrators conduct classes and learning sessions. Licensed by the GNU Lesser General Public License, it runs primarily on Ubuntu16.04. The latest version is a 2.2 Java-based software program, an online video conferencing system that supports an HTML 5 client that nullifies the necessity to download the software.
Source – BigBlueButton
Some features of the free and open source video conferencing tool are as follows:
- Screen and Audio sharing
- Integrations with LMS
- Multi-user live whiteboards
- WCAG 2.0 A accessibility standard adherence
- Unlimited webcam sharing
- Breakout rooms
- Polling and Voting systems
- Emoji usage
- Real-time chat
Powered by LogMeIn, GoToMeeting was envisioned with the intent of enabling users and organizations to conduct meetings through a reliable and intelligent video conferencing platform. GoToMeetings is rivaling Zoom in several key aspects of video conferencing. It is platform-independent and can host a quick meeting (literally in a click) with minimal equipment requirements.
Source – GoToMeetings
Some features of the free video conferencing software are as follows:
- Webcam, Screen Sharing
- Remote Control
- Session recording and cloud storage
- File Management systems (Cloud-based)
- Meeting Transcripts
- Business Messaging application
- Enhanced audio controls (Muting, notification chimes, audio modes)
- InRoom private meeting links
- GoToRoom Calendar Integration
- Personal Meetings page
- Web browser call integration
ClickMeetings is a video conferencing software that has been pioneered to help businesses conduct meetings and allow educational organizations to conduct virtual classes online. The company claims to have hosted close to 605,000 events and is geared to being accessible for all parties using it, being a browser-only software. They have multiple data centers, backed by excess capacity and secure algorithms, as well as backup recovery modes to help users conduct meetings successfully.
Source – ClickMeeting
Some of the features of the video telephony system are as follows:
- Screen sharing
- Real-time chat rooms
- Polls & Surveys
- Presentation & Whiteboards
- Live stream to YouTube or Facebook
- Reporting and Analytics dashboard
- Performance rating pages
- Third-party integrations
- Social Media Sharing tools
- Presentation Board
- Customized Branding
Video conferencing solutions such as Cisco WebEx Meeting, BlueJeans, and even Flock provide exceptional service, features, and support as well. One popular software that stands tall amongst the glut of options is Zoom.
Founded in 2011, Zoom offers some of the best video conferencing software facilities and features. It is multiplatform supported and can allow users to access important meeting rooms from anywhere as long as they have a supported device. Zoom is available as both a software client download as well as a web browser extension….