What is Zoom?Zoom has become the colloquial term for all video conferencing but is really one of many video conferencing platforms that has been widely utilised during the pandemic. Because it is so easy to use and offers a free version, many individuals and businesses turned to Zoom to keep relationships and business running smoothly. The cloud-based app allows you to set up video calls and send invitations to join with a link, an email, or a meeting ID and password. People joining don’t need to have a Zoom account which makes using Zoom straightforward and easy – even for the most technophobic people. The app comes with an array of features suitable for home and business needs and you can choose a package based on your video conferencing needs. Zoom is compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android so it can be easily used on the go with a mobile phone or at a desktop computer. You can also use Zoom without downloading an app, which makes it more accessible in almost any setting. The free version allows meetings for up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes, while the paid for versions give you more time and more versatility within the platform. Screens can be arranged to spotlight the speaker or give a “gallery” view of multiple screens. Options for the meeting host to control screen sharing, muting, and other practicalities throughout the meeting also make Zoom one of the favourites when it comes to video conferencing.
How much does Zoom cost?Zoom offers four packages, Basic, Pro, Business, and Enterprise and each offers different features. Although most people start with the basic plan, most businesses will choose to switch to the business plan after a brief time because the features are designed specifically to help businesses function better. Zoom basic is free and offers video conferencing for up to 100 people for 40 minutes at a time. As the name suggests, the features are basic but there is enough there for it to be functional for social or small business needs. Zoom pro is priced at £11.99/month or £119.90 per year. With pro, there is still a limit of 100 participants, but there is no longer a 40 minute time limit. Only the host will need to pay the subscription fee, anyone joining can have a basic plan and still enjoy the extended time. Calls become limited to 30 hours instead of 40 minutes. Zoom Business is £15.99/month or £159.90/year (per licence), but unlike the previous two options, at least 10 hosts (or licences) are required for the subscription. This means your monthly cost is actually a minimum of £159.90 to cover all the host licences. Although this may seem excessive, the leap from Zoom pro to Zoom business is a big one, and the added features are likely to win you over, especially if a lot of your business now has to be conducted online. Zoom Enterprise is the last tier in the Zoom offering and is designed for big businesses, corporations, and enterprises. It is priced similarly to Zoom Business in that it is priced by licence with a minimum of 50 licences per account. Zoom Enterprise costs £15.99/month or £192/year per licence.
What features are included in Zoom Business?Zoom business includes all features of the basic and pro plan, plus some features specifically integrated for business users. The basic and pro plans come with:
- Video conferencing with HD video and HD sound
- Time limit on meetings of 30 hours
- Waiting rooms where participants can wait until the host admits them
- Virtual backgrounds
- Shared Screen for the host and participants
- Presentation mode
- Whiteboard and collaboration features
- Personalised meeting IDs and passwords
- Breakout rooms – the ability to split participants into smaller groups and then bring them back together again
- Meeting recording (saved to your local hard drive or to the cloud) with 1GB free cloud storage
- Generate meeting reports including tracking how long meetings last
- Sharing administrative privileges, including assigning others as the host, managing recordings, Encryptions, and chat functions
- Host scheduled or impromptu meetings
- Integration with Gmail, Office 365, and Microsoft Outlook, making e-mailing, scheduling, and planning meetings easier
- In addition to these features, Zoom Business also offers:
- 300 participants
- Specialised admin portal
- Branding options that allow you to send branded invites to meetings and host in a branded room
- Interpreter features including dedicated audio channels for interpreters and specific language listeners
- Customised links (URLs) for your meetings so your links can stay on brand
- The ability to use Zoom within your own private cloud service
- Cloud transcripts
- Integration with learning platforms
- Dedicated phone support
- Audio conferencing
- Cloud storage
- Premier developer support
- Large meetings (up to 1, 000 participants)
What are the benefits of using Zoom for Business?There are not a lot of disadvantages when it comes to using Zoom. It is a well-thought through and well supported platform with features that suit almost all needs. With an easy-to-use layout and simple login process, the whole platform works well for both intermittent and regular meetings and in small or larger groups. Whereas other platforms limit the number of screens that can use active cameras, Zoom is one of the few that allows you to see all participants at the same time. This may seem like a small thing, but if you are running a bigger meeting it takes the pressure and added task of thinking about screens off your mind so you can focus on the meeting instead. The simplicity of the platform is its biggest draw. Instead of being distracted by the technology, you are aided by it. Business can remain the focus of your meetings rather than trying to adjust your business to fit the technology. Another draw for Zoom is that although it has a lot of features, the layout is neat and simple and the screen never appears cluttered. Frequent interactions such as chat, raised hand, share screen, mute, and camera are all on the home screen during the call. More advanced features can be found in the app or using various menus. Participants are also able to easily focus on the speaker or presenter with Zoom’s intuitive “spotlighting”. The person speaking or sharing a screen will automatically become the main video feed on the screen or will be outlined in bright yellow when in gallery mode. This spotlighting means you won’t spend precious time trying to work out who is talking and what kind of response is needed.
What are the drawbacks of using Zoom for Business?There are very few drawbacks to using Zoom, and the ones that we could identify don’t apply to Zoom for Business. If you are in a smaller company and choose the basic or pro plans, then you will have limited tech support. This is not usually a problem, however, since the platform is easy to use. If you go for the basic plan, you may also struggle to keep things to the 40 minute time limit. But there is nothing stopping you from scheduling back to back meetings if necessary. Again, neither of these problems apply to Zoom Business. The only problem we can possibly foresee for Business users is that the price point is higher, especially if you are looking for only a handful of the business features and don’t need 10 licences to carry out your business well.
What kind of customer support is offered by Zoom?Zoom offers different levels of support based on the plan you choose. The basic plan is limited to the online help centre, so there is no personal interaction. The pro plan includes a ticketed and live chat technical support option so that you can get more nuanced answers to your problems. Both the business and enterprise plans offer ticket, live chat, and a phone option. If you are on the business plan, the phone option is also incredibly efficient. Staff answer calls quickly and are helpful and knowledgeable. Although you may be paying more for your plan, you will experience better customer care. If you feel the need for extra support, there are also the add-on options which are available for licenced users. The Premier Development Support add-on gives you access to the Developer Support Portal and help with App Marketplace submissions, releases, and maintenance. This support is aimed directly at those in development and has tech support that is specialised to the field. A Premier Support add-on is also available which connects you directly to support engineers. With Premier+ you can also have a technical account manager assigned to you who will help with diagnosing and resolving any problems you have as they occur. The added support of the add-ons will give you an enhanced experience and ensure all your meetings run smoothly. They effectively help minimise risk and reduce down-time.
Is Zoom for business secure?Zoom bombing became a problem in early 2020 when people realised they could type in a random string of numbers and potentially join a call. This brought up many security concerns and led to an intense focus on buffing up the security of the platform. All calls are now password protected and you can choose to include the password in the link (for ease of use) or have participants type it in. You can also set your own passwords if you feel it will add another layer of security. You can choose to disable the password requirement if you want to, but it is there for your security, so it’s not advisable. In addition, the waiting room feature allows you to approve access for all participants. This means no one can sneak into the call unnoticed. The waiting room also allows the host ample time to check lists if they need to see who was invited – something especially relevant in large meetings. Calls are also encrypted, along with text sent during the call, so they are almost impossible to hack and are kept secure. Zoom has also promised to keep security updated regularly. Making sure your app is updated will help your private business dealing over Zoom to stay private.
Do I have to use the business plan for business?Although the business plan is designed for businesses, you may find that you simply don’t need all the features. We would recommend using the pro plan for it’s extended time, added hosting features, and increased support. But it is not essential that you stick to the business plan if you feel one of the lower tiers suits you better.
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