Zoom: The video conferencing software and application that shot to fame during 2020. In 2019, very few people had heard of zoom, but as businesses desperately turned to new ways to operate during the various lockdowns of 2020, Zoom suddenly found itself at the centre of the business world. Despite being around since 2013, Zoom found a niche market during the pandemic and was able to quickly capitalise on people’s need for simple and convenient communication tools. Even the UK government turned to Zoom for its first online cabinet meeting.
As a versatile tool for any enterprise, it is no wonder Zoom has become popular for businesses around the world. We break down the details of Zoom to help you understand how Zoom can help your business succeed – even after restrictions are lifted and workers can safely return to their offices.
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
Shared Screen for the host and participants
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:
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
Integration with learning platforms
Dedicated phone support
Zoom is one of the most feature rich video conferencing tools, which is why it is so popular. What really sets it apart is that the basic plan has almost all the same features as the other plans. The creators have thought carefully about what features are most likely to be needed at every level so that no one is forced to spend more than they need to on the platform.
As well as all of the features that come with pro and business zoom, if you have a licence you can also purchase add-ons. All add-ons are priced individually and offer a top up on features that you might need. These include:
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.