“Why not just Skype?”
Being a video conferencing solutions provider, we get this question a lot. And to be frank, why would you not use Skype? It’s easy to use, well-known and for the most part, free. While all those characteristics are ideal, Skype is ripe with limitations when used as a business tool versus a consumer tool. In this post we will dig into a quick comparison of Skype and business video conferencing services.
Point-to-point vs. Multi-point
A key difference is simply what each solution is designed for. Skype is optimized for point-to-point audio and video calls, which means it is designed to support two computers and two participants. You have probably seen the Skype ads showing a traveling working mom or dad speaking with their child back at home (I have to admit, those ads get me every time.) On the other hand, video conferencing is optimized for multi-point calls, which means multiple parties on multiple devices can participate in a single call. While I do not have a TV spot to reference, imagine your weekly sales meeting where you have a few co-workers in a conference room at the headquarters, a couple of people working from home on their laptops, and an executive calling from his personal Telepresence system – all in a single call.
Fortunately, video interoperability has made tremendous strides over the past two years. Thanks to smaller vendors breaking barriers, there are video conferencing services that can interoperate with standards-based video conferencing systems, in addition to a wide variety of video-enabled devices, such as tablets, smartphones and desktops. Unfortunately for Skype, their users can only connect with other Skype users and cannot connect to your traditional video conferencing equipment.
Skype requires a significant amount of bandwidth. A five-way Skype video call, which is the maximum number of participants Skype recommends, requires four times the bandwidth of a business video conferencing service. The substantial amount of bandwidth required for Skype calls can reduce or interrupt critical network performance since the Skype video traffic cannot be prioritized through the use of Quality of Service (QoS) settings. This leads to a degraded network and meeting disruptions, such as choppy audio, frozen video and dropped calls. Administrators and end users want to avoid these scenarios at all costs.
Advanced Features and Reporting
Since Skype is designed for consumers, it only offers basic features. Business video conferencing services include advanced features, such as streaming and recording, multiple screen layouts, full conference controls and real-time reporting.
Security and Control
All you have to do is Google “Skype + security” and article after article will show the security vulnerabilities associated with Skype. Business video conferencing services make security and control a top priority. Seamless firewall traversal, video call encryption, conference controls and real-time management of bandwidth are just a few capabilities that businesses should consider when seeking a video solution.
Last but not least, support services are unavailable for Skype users. There is no one to contact when a problem arises. Business video conferencing services offer a wide variety of help desk and onsite services to ensure a high level of customer service.
In conclusion, Skype is an excellent tool for keeping in touch with long distance loved ones. If you are seeking a solution that requires secure video communication, low-bandwidth and interoperability across multiple platforms and participants, I recommend a business video conferencing service.
What about you, what do you use for your business video communications?