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Five Alternatives to Zoom When Working from Home

With COVID-19 affecting the lives of everyone globally, businesses had to adapt a telecommuting setup. This has thrust Zoom, a fairly new virtual communication tool into the spotlight. But lately, Zoom has received negative scrutiny from its alleged questionable security measures. Let’s check out some alternatives to Zoom.

Virtual communication tools have become important now more than ever when one third of the world is under lockdown. This technology, which allows people to have video calls with each other, has been around since the 1990s with the introduction of the webcam. Only now, virtual communication technology has not only improved, but businesses now consider them as productivity tools.

Yes, there are quite a few. Considering its value for businesses in this time of pandemic, let’s take a look at the other virtual communication tools in the market and their features and security.

Viber is one of the most popular virtual communication tools used these days.

Features:

With this virtual communication tool installed in your smartphone, you can make free Viber to Viber calls via WIFI connection or data plan. You can also call a landline or mobile number and while this is not free, it’s more cost-effective.

Viber has plenty of other great useful features such as sharing videos and photos from your phone and the ability to hold a group chat. You can also send unlimited text messages via Viber to anyone who’s also on Viber free of charge. While this virtual communication tool is mostly targeted at young people because of features such as Stickers, it can be a great communication tool for small businesses and for work colleagues.

Security:

Data breaches are a major concern for businesses. It’s been confirmed that other messaging apps are reading chats for various reasons such as public safety, commercial reasons, and control of the content being shared. Viber, however, claims to be the most secure communication tool out there. It can’t read or listen to any of your chats and calls since it uses end-to-end encryption by default. This feature makes Viber one of the most secured alternatives to Zoom.

This virtual communication tool was also the first global messaging app to allow the deletion of messages sent, not only for yourself but also for everyone else in your chat group.

WhatsApp is another popular virtual communication tool similar to Viber.

Features:

WhatsApp allows you to send and receive messages free of cost. You can also create a group chat among your network of contacts with more than 250 people and share photos, messages, videos and much more all at once. This communication tool also allows you to do video or audio calls and also share documents up to 100MB which includes spreadsheets and slideshows.

Security:

This communication tool’s end to end encryption ensures that no one else but you and the people you are chatting with can read what is sent. 

Google Hangouts Meet, formerly Google Hangouts, is another virtual communication tool that’s a cloud-based collaboration and communication tool. It is part of Google’s business productivity bundle, G Suite. It consists of two components: Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.  

Hangouts Meet Features:

Hangouts Meet is an online video conferencing solution that can accommodate multiple users doing video calls with each other from their computer browser. For iOS and Android users, this virtual communication tool can be downloaded for on-the-go video calling, maintaining data security while delivering high-quality video transmission.

As one of the alternatives to Zoom, Google Hangouts’ strongest feature is the integration with all other G Suite products. There’s also instant meetings with external participants, screen sharing and online presentation to name a few.

Hangouts Chat Features:

Hangouts contains all the functionalities to be expected from a workplace instant messaging software. File sharing and workplace collaboration are possible from most devices and it can also be downloaded for smartphones, both iOS, and Android.

Multilingual chats, chatrooms and hangout bots are some of the important features of Google Hangout Chats, as one of the most accessible alternative to Zoom.

Security:

This virtual communication tool encrypts the user’s information as well as conversations for safety and privacy. Conversations are encrypted so that nobody else can hear or see your conversations however this communication tool does not use end-to-end encryption.

This virtual communication tool comes in two forms: Skype and Skype for Business which can both be used by businesses. But given that there are two options, you might be wondering which one is right for your business? Let’s look at its features.

Features:

Skype as a virtual communication tool can accommodate up to 20 people and comes with the benefits of free Skype to Skype calls and purchase credits to make super-cheap calls to both mobiles and landlines. For larger businesses, Skype for Business is recommended for the host of benefits it can offer. Benefits offered by this virtual communication tool include Skype Meeting Broadcast which allows broadcasting a meeting online to up to 10,000 people. Another feature offered by this communication tool is Skype Room Systems where one can use Skype for Business with standalone cameras and monitors and audio equipment from Microsoft’s partner network and the Microsoft Surface Hub, a large screen device built for ink and touch. Recording is also allowed which can be accessed online.

Security:

This virtual communication tool comes with enterprise-level security and Cloud Private Branch Exchange (PBX) with Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) calling and PSTN conferencing.

While regular Skype is free, Skype for Business must be paid through different monthly plans. However not every business sees the value of money for the latter and probably the reason why Microsoft announced last year that Skype for Business will be retiring on July 31, 2021.

This virtual communications tool was founded in 2014, referred to as “Ding Ding” in Chinese for the sound it makes whenever there’s a new message. Created by Alibaba, DingTalk shares plenty of features similar to Slack.

Features:

DingTalk can support up to 3,000 members in a single group chat and its Ding message allows managers to ping specific employees – featured as a blue thumbtack logo. This virtual communication tool also has voice conferencing, allowing multi-party participation with a click of a button on the group chat for up to 50 people. It also has a high definition video conferencing feature for up to 16 parties, view conference status at a glance as well as switch modes easily from training to discussion. It also supports both desktop and file sharing. DingTalk is what we use as an inbound marketing communications agency.  

Another feature offered by this virtual communications tool is Ding Mail, an effective email messaging and receiving email notifications in chats. It also has a read/unread status where all types of messaging display as either read or unread, which helps in communication efficiency.

This virtual communications tool will also allow you to view an organization structure in a glance, letting you find people and contacts with ease. It also has a secret chat so you can send a traceless secret message for ultimate privacy and protection. Messages automatically get deleted after 30 seconds and profiles are masked so identities are hidden. DingTalk is the virtual communication tool we use as an inbound digital marketing agency.

Security:

This virtual communications tool, which is targeted for enterprises, assures its users of the security of their platform. It has end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption over SSL/TLS connections and one of the first Chinese apps to have obtained the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard, the international standard which is globally recognized for risk management and information security.

If your company requires additional security, you can opt for third-party encryption services that will assure that the messages and data sent or shared via DingTalk can’t be accessed even if servers are compromised. Make sure that security is a top priority in your list of alternatives to Zoom.    

Bottom Line:

Even after we move past this pandemic, virtual communication tools and other alternatives to Zoom are here to stay and while there may be a lot of virtual communication tools available in the market, the key thing to remember is to take into account what your business might need. As this is technology-driven, virtual meetings have their limitations but they can be overcome and the benefits of these virtual communication tools can be maximized as long as there is careful planning in place. 

Finally, the workplace is evolving. Who knows what it will look like after the pandemic? You don’t have to be stuck with one virtual communications tool.  You can use several depending on the needs of the office, the team you work with, or the clients.  Use what works best in your case, and quickly move on if things don’t work out. In a year or two, there maybe more alternatives to Zoom with better features.  

References:

https://www.viber.com/en/blog/2018-04-11/why-viber-is-the-most-secure-messaging-app-around/ 

https://www.informationq.com/whatsapp-messenger/

https://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/google-hangouts-for-business/

https://techboomers.com/t/is-google-hangouts-safe-secure-private

https://www.business2community.com/brandviews/getapp/skype-vs-skype-for-business-whats-the-difference-01315099

https://qz.com/1814937/what-is-dingtalk-the-alibaba-app-that-quarantined-kids-in-china-hate/

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