From in-person meetings to online video conferencing, technology has made communicating with employees and clients easier and more affordable than ever. Whether you connect using software, a mobile app or social media, here are 14 collaboration tools to consider for your small business.
Everyone has their preferred way of attending online meetings. BlueJeans cloud-based video communications gives attendees the flexibility of joining video conferences using a web browser, desktop app or mobile phone, all while making meetings more productive with a wide range of collaboration features that are available across platforms. These include the ability to host meetings in conference rooms and town halls, share screens, and record meetings.
BlueJeans makes it easy to combine workflows. For instance, you can schedule meetings with Outlook, chat with Skype, and integrate with popular business apps and services. Users who don't have video- or audio-capable devices can phone in to join meetings. BlueJeans starts at $12.49 per meeting host per month. [Interested in video conference services? Check out our best picks.]
2. Windstream Enterprise OfficeSuite UC
Are your employees always on the go? OfficeSuite UC is a cloud-based communications system that's fully accessible anytime, anywhere. In addition to audio, web and video conferencing, OfficeSuite offers unlimited nationwide calling, toll-free phone service, digital faxing and the following mobility features: mobile twinning, which makes all incoming calls ring your desk and mobile phone simultaneously; hotdesking to enable incoming and outgoing calls from any phone; and virtual voicemail to receive notifications and messages from any phone, online or by email. Contact Windstream Enterprise for pricing information.
3. Cisco WebEx
Businesses that rely heavily on meetings need a full-featured communications software solution. Cisco's WebEx offers HD video conferences with collaboration and file-sharing capabilities for all types of meetings, including presentations, sales demos, online training sessions, web-based events, staff meetings and remote tech support.
WebEx is fully accessible on mobile devices using the WebEx mobile app for iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry. The basic version of WebEx is free, but it's limited to three people per meeting. Premium versions start at $19 a month and include phone call-ins, application sharing, remote control and live 24/7 support.
Editor's note: Looking for a video conferencing solution? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.
For businesses that host lots of webinars, ClickMeeting has dozens of tools to set up and run a smooth presentation. You can plan out your webinar beforehand with your branding, slideshows and screen sharing. You can make customized invitations and registration pages to get everyone you need into your webinar room.
During the presentation, you can add polls, Q&A chats and calls to action. The webinar can be saved for later viewing as well. ClickMeeting starts at $25 per month with 25 available attendees. The Enterprise plan is $165 per month and can have up to 5,000 attendees and multiple presenters. [Read our full review of ClickMeeting, which we named best overall video conference system for business.]
5. Fuze Meeting
Do you need more flexibility in your meetings? Fuze Meeting is packed with capabilities that take online and live meetings to the next level. In addition to offering HD audio and video conferencing, Fuze Meeting lets users present documents, multimedia, animations and other types of rich content.
Participants can access Fuze Meeting using any device, whether they are in the same room as the meeting, down the hall or across the country. Users can easily schedule meetings directly from Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar. Fuze starts at 10 employees, and you can easily onboard more users. Fuze offers a free 30-day trial.
6. Google Hangouts Meet
Whether you need to make voice calls or video calls, or simply chat and send multimedia messages, Google Hangouts Meet makes all types of group collaboration super easy, regardless of your team members' locations and devices.
G Suite features an improved version of Hangouts that allows you to connect with participants from all over the world. You can make voice calls straight from your computer (calls to the U.S. and Canada are free) as well as hold video conferences and even livestream meetings and events. You can keep a history of your Hangouts so you can always go back to old conversations for reference.
The Business edition allows you to connect with 25 participants, with the Enterprise version upgradable to 50.
If you need a basic, easy-to-use web conferencing solution, Citrix's free GoToMeeting can get you started immediately. Just use its one-click meeting feature to quickly schedule meetings straight from Outlook or Google Calendar.
In addition to HD videoconferencing, GoToMeeting comes with dozens of useful tools to make your meetings more productive and interactive. These include screen sharing, web audio, a dial-in conference line, drawing tools and the ability to record meetings.
GoToMeeting starts at $19 per month for up to 10 people. If you need more participants and features, check out the Pro plan ($29 per month) for 50 attendees or the Plus plan ($49 per month) for up to 100 attendees. A free 14-day trial is available.
This application is unique in that its video chat windows are circles instead of squares. Join.me is set up for you to easily start casual voice chats with anyone in your business, no software required. You can join video meetings and webinars from your web browser. It also has an iOS app, VoIP and toll-free capabilities. It features several integrations, including with scheduling programs such as Outlook and Google Calendar, and other applications such as Salesforce and Slack.
The Lite version starts at $9 per month for 25 meeting participants, which can be upgraded to the Business version for $30 per month billed annually. [Read our full review of Join.me, which we named best video conference service for multiple participants.]
9. Office 365 – Skype for Business, Yammer
Businesses with Office 365 have access to two popular and reliable communication applications: Skype for Business and Yammer. Skype is the quintessential video chat platform, and the Business edition comes with a plenty of features, including large group meetings with up to 250 people, collaboration tools and screen sharing. You can use Skype for Business on any device and schedule meetings through Outlook.
The latest version adds HD video calling for up to 24 users on all devices. New messaging features allows chat participants to send notifications via mentions. You can share photos, videos and other files, which can be kept in a media gallery for you to refer to later. Microsoft plans on adding more features, such as read receipts for messages and call recording. [Read our full review of Skype for Business, which we named the best inexpensive video conference service.]
With Yammer, businesses can create their own private social networks to unite employees and share internal information. The platform looks a lot like Facebook and offers similar capabilities: profile pages, status updates, likes, comments, groups, private messages, chat and more. Users can also upload photos, documents and other files.
Slack is a multipurpose platform for project management, instant messaging and video conferencing. It allows you to create several channels for different teams and makes it easy to add new members to multiple channels. From here, team members can instant message, share and store files with up to 20GB per member, and start video calls.
Slack has a free version for an unlimited number of users, with the paid version starting at $6.67 per month. The paid versions keep an unlimited searchable history of past messages and let you host video meetings with up to 15 participants.
11. TeamViewer 13
Remote support has come a long way from relaying issues over the phone. TeamViewer 13 gives anyone complete access to desktops, applications and data so users can skip explaining problems and reduce miscommunication.
Available 24/7, this program does not require any installation on the client's part. In addition to remote support, TeamViewer provides an online collaboration platform for holding meetings, presentations and training sessions called Blizz. TeamViewer 13 starts at $49 per month, and Blizz starts at $72 per year.
12. Unified Meeting 5
Collaborating should be easy. Unified Meeting 5, created by conferencing solutions provider West, is an all-in-one audio, video and web conferencing platform that makes creating and joining meetings a piece of cake. It provides simplified scheduling tools, offers streamlined audio call management and seamlessly integrates with popular business tools. Attendees join meetings by clicking on a link from a meeting invitation. They can do this on their desktop computer, smartphone or tablet, no matter where they are located.
Unified Meeting 5 also operates on the same network as West's enterprise customers, giving small business owners access to the same reliable connection without the enterprise price tag.
13. Zoho Meeting
There's more to web conferencing than staff meetings. Zoho Meeting offers a comprehensive online meeting solution that lets businesses hold live meetings to share product demonstrations with prospects, provide remote client support and more.
Users simply sign in with their Google, Facebook or Yahoo accounts; via Google Apps; or by entering a meeting session ID from any Windows, Mac or Linux device. You can also embed meetings on webpages, blogs and wikis for easy access. Zoho Meetings starts at $12 per month ($10 when paid annually) for five participants, with four other pricing plans for more participants.
Zoom is an enterprise-level, all-in-one collaboration tool with a small business price tag. It offers video and web conferencing solutions as well as cross-platform instant messaging and file-sharing features.
Zoom lets users hold all types of online meetings, such as one-on-one video conferences, town hall meetings, training, webinars and marketing events. The service can be used on desktops, mobile devices, and your company's video and conference room systems. A developer platform is available to integrate Zoom features – such as video, voice and screen sharing – with apps your business already uses.
Zoom offers a free, basic plan that comes with one-to-one meetings and group meetings for up to 100 participants. Paid, unlimited plans start at $14.99 per month per host and come with admin tools, customization options and additional integrations.