Collaborative Options: Skype, WebEx or GoToMeeting

Eric Riz

by Eric Riz on 6/26/2015

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Article Details

Date Revised:
6/26/2015

Applies to:
collaboration, GoToMeeting, Skype, WebEx


Communicating with colleagues and peers has reached new heights. Companies have many options to connect people and a choice of products to use for that connection. Not only do employees have to make decisions about content and meeting agendas, but they also must now decide which collaborative tool to use to conduct a meeting. While some large organizations have made a corporate decision to use and support a particular product, smaller companies struggle to find a common platform to use. We have all tried to get into an online meeting, only to receive an email a few minutes later that the platform wasn’t working, and to switch to “plan b.”

While this example is specific to the individual user, the corporate example can raise the stakes even higher by offering video conferencing in meeting rooms to fuel large discussions between offices and organizations. Vendors such as Cisco, Lifesize and Vidyo offer such collaboration services, while desktop users are left to choose between Skype, Webex and GoToMeeting. The reason the stakes are raised are obvious; more people in one room using the system means higher demands on the performance of the tool.

In the table below I lay out pricing that smaller companies generally choose from; pricing is specific to the number of users and functionality required. All three offer a free version and have an app for mobile users.

 

Skype

GoTo Meeting

WebEx

Plan level

Skype

Skype for Business Online Plan 1

Skype for Business Online Plan 2 **

GoTo Meeting Pro

GoTo Meeting Plus

WebEx Premium 8

WebEx Premium 25

WebEx Premium 100

Monthly cost*

$4.99

$2.00 /user

$5.50 / user

$49

$69

$24

$49

$69

Support

Online

Online

Online

Live 24/7

Live 24/7

Live 24/7

Live 24/7

Live 24/7

Free trial

 

30-day free trial

 

14-day free trial

 

 

Premium 25 features FREE for the first 14 days!

 

Max meeting attendees

25

250

250+

25

100

8

25

100

* Rates may vary by country. Total monthly rates are lower if you pay annually versus monthly.

** Many Skype for Business Online Plan 2 features come bundled with Office 365 Business Premium, but it limits you to 25 users. You may need to purchase the separate SKU online via skype.com

From a user perspective, what is the best platform to use for your next meeting? My platform of choice is Skype; with Skype for Business now released, advanced enhancements designed to make collaboration easier are available, such as whiteboards, application sharing and desktop sharing. As I wrote in May, the Skype for Business enhancements allow greater access to users and content across organizations. These provide greater knowledge sharing between users, with individuals sharing and collaborating on content live through these platforms, as opposed to the earlier years, where these tools were seen as screen-sharing tools only. Today, teams are using these tools to share real information, writing, drawing and learning from one shared screen at a time. In fact, I saw a colleague send a message today highlighting the fact that he and another colleague were working on a PowerPoint deck together via Skype, from two separate planes 30,000 feet in the air. Now that’s collaboration!

Regardless of your intended use of these technologies, Skype, WebEx and GoToMeeting are the top products to consider. Skype for Business is now a standard inclusion in the Windows platform; WebEx and GoToMeeting both require app-level installations. The apps from WebEx and GoToMeeting are very lightweight and require that users install Java and enable cookies; browser compatibility is open as well, as is operating system. For mobile users, all three products are available for iOS, Android and Windows Phones.

The interface on all three products (on the desktop) is clean and easy to navigate. I give the usability nod here to Skype; its team collaboration features are powerful and seamless, such as the experience in larger meetings (over 25 people) where the platform guides you from the desktop application to the web. Controls are easy to navigate and problem solving is critical when connectivity errors do occur. We all know of the panic that can ensue when you aren’t being heard or seen, though each of the products does a great job of notifying you if your microphone or speakers are off.

Being a huge collaborator, there is nothing more convenient to me than when all my features and functionality are in one place. Skype for Business works hand-in-hand with Outlook to integrate your calendar across applications. With your Outlook calendar passed across to Skype for Business, both applications track your meetings and ensure that meeting schedules are current and active. Outlook also provides a one-click meeting request that can be used within any email message. Clicking on the meeting button opens a meeting request pane where the user can then select Skype Meeting to directly schedule a Skype meeting. While Webex and GoToMeeting have add-ins that integrate into Outlook as well, I find Skype to be easiest from a functionality and convenience perspective.

In summary, there is no question that our requirement and demand for online meetings will continue to grow in future. Just look at what the iPhone has done for on-demand audio and video, laying the continued groundwork for an expectation that information and people should be at our fingertips at all times. This will continue to proliferate into our work experiences daily, with heavier demand for this information and content for years to come. As on-line meetings become the norm, even for face-to-face meetings, watch for Skype to continue their grown and be the dominant force against Cisco and GoToMeeting.


Skype provides the best experience within Outlook and is Eric's favorite.

Topic: Collaboration

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  • You may also try on premise solutions such as R-HUB web conferencing servers for collaborating with your clients, business partners, customers etc.
  • Hum.. You wouldn''''t be a little biased towards Microsoft?
  • You can also try other collaborative tools such as EZTalks, CUMeeting etc
  • My tool of choice lately has been Zoom.us very reasonable for the features it includes. It does require a lightweight install and also has an outlook plugin (for Outlook for Windows).

    One thing you didn't mention in your feature comparison that I have found is important to a lot of people as well is the ability to call into the the voice portion of the meeting using with a phone number vs. having to use VoIP built into the product.
  • My tool of choice is one you don't even mention: http://join.me. For years now, it's been the easiest and least painful option. In many cases there's no install and it Just Plain Works.

    It's probably not their goal, but it's also free. Though you can pay for a few extra perks, the free version works great.

    Using the first ten minutes of every hour-long meeting to get Skype for Business, GoToMeeting, or WebEx up and running is insane to me. When I can get a meeting going by 30s into the hour, it's a Very Good Thing.

    M.