The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in video conferencing and workplace collaboration platforms hitting new highs to help workforces work from home effectively and adhere to social distancing rules. In fact, reports revealed that video conferencing apps saw a record 62M downloads during one week in March.
While they have hit new highs, senior management and businesses are finding themselves debating between Microsoft Teams and Zoom, rather than Skype for Business and Cisco like they used to.
Annoyingly, the answer to this debate is not as straight forward as you may hope. Over the past few years, both platforms have seen rapid growth, both adding equally impressive new features to benefit your company. Read on for an overview of both platforms where their advantages and what they have to offer are highlighted.
As the country went into its first lockdown, users who were looking for a free, easily accessible way to catch up with colleagues, friends and family used Zoom. Alongside useful chat features that operate on Android, iOS and Windows devices, the app provides HD video conferencing and audio capabilities.
Zoom offers a free basic plan that hosts up to 100 participants, but there is a 40-minute limit on group meetings. If you factor in setup times, it is realistic to think that you will need more time than this, which is why they offer options for small and medium business teams as well as large enterprises. Find out about their plans and pricing here.
Unlike Microsoft Teams, Zoom supports up to 49 videos appearing on the screen at once. Microsoft has, however, been eagerly trying match this since March – and in May, they upped the number of video-call participants on the screen from four to nine in Teams. Since then, Microsoft has continued to make improvements weekly.
Zoom is renowned for its customisable backgrounds. These are good for adding a little fun and a little privacy to those who need to work from their bedrooms and want to protect it from prying eyes.
There has been a range of questions regarding the platforms security policies as it grew in popularity, with a significant percentage of this being focused on the default settings and mechanisms that make it so convenient to use. Each Zoom call has a randomly generated ID number between 9 and 11 digits long that participants use to join meetings, and researchers found these to be easily guessable and even brute forceable. As a result, anyone could gain access to meetings. This led to the Zoombombing phenomenon, where pranksters joined Zoom calls to broadcast inappropriate and shocking videos. Luckily, from May, new features were deployed to help combat this such as password requirements for all meetings as well as waiting rooms.
The UK Government was also criticised for its use of it because of these security concerns. A government spokesperson defended the use of it when he said “there is no security reason for Zoom not to be used for conversations below a certain classification”. Others were not so convinced by this, with a researcher from the University of Bristol tweeting “Should we be letting a company we know so little about be entering our highest office of state? Should we be divulging so much personal data to this company with lax policies?”
Microsoft Teams is a platform for all-round team collaboration, bringing the people, content and tools necessary for teams to produce their best work wherever they may be working into one place. If you already use Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) in your organisation, then you will already have access to Microsoft Teams. It is largely those with a Microsoft 365 license who use the platform to its full potential. However, amid the pandemic, Microsoft lifted the restrictions on their free version in order to allow businesses and schools to use Teams to its full potential without the need for a traditional subscription.
A robust feature set is offered by Microsoft Teams. Not only can users chat and video call, but due to the seamless integration it has with all Microsoft 365 apps, they can share and collaborate with files in real-time which are synced in OneDrive and SharePoint. Therefore, if you are a user of Microsoft 365, Teams is a logical progression. Much like Zoom, all these features can be accessed on Android, iOS and Windows devices.
Microsoft recently added virtual backgrounds to Teams, which as discussed already in this blog, means you can hide where you may be working from prying eyes and replace it with a more neutral background.
As more organisations and individuals rely on video conferencing and calls throughout the pandemic, Microsoft has done its best to differentiate Teams from Zoom in terms of privacy and security. For instance, they posted a blog on their commitment to privacy and security in Teams in which they explained how they do not use your Teams data to provide ads, how they don’t track participant attention, and how they delete all data after a subscription ends. You will also find they post regularly in their Transparency Hub.
What’s best for you?
Both platforms are excellent and selecting the right one for your business depends mostly on how you envision using it and the value you would like to gain. If your demands are purely for video conferencing and little else, then Zoom is a great choice for you with its 49-video title and universal appeal. However, you will get more value from Microsoft Teams if you prefer a full productivity hub, with text and voice chat as well as video and integration with Microsoft 365, and collaboration features.
In these unprecedented times we find ourselves in, video conferencing and chat tools will be essential helping businesses continue effectively throughout the pandemic. For instance, if you rely on face-to-face contact for your sales process, like some of our clients, incorporating one of these solutions would mean that you can continue this without physically having to be there.
Here at Serval IT Systems we have been using Microsoft Teams and it has been a core tool in ensuring our own employees, as well as our customers, can continue working together throughout the lockdown. If you would like to find out how it could benefit you and be implemented in your organisation, please get in touch.