Effective communication is a vital part of every organization, without it, even the most promising companies can lose their way.
In our tech-heavy world, there are countless options available to facilitate communication both internally within organizations, and externally with clients and prospects.
In a fully virtual company, like Scopic, face-to-face communication is simply not an option. As a result, we rely heavily on virtual communication tools. We have tried many and discovered their strengths and weaknesses.
On the hunt for your next communication tool? Below are our top communication tools for 2017.
Skype is widely used across the globe. In fact, “Skype” has become a verb in the English language.
- The Pros: The biggest benefit of Skype is its price tag. You really can’t get any better than free.
- The Cons: The downfall of the free version is its stability. Dropped calls and malfunctioning sound are commonplace with the free version of Skype, and quality can often be hit or miss.
Skype for Business
In addition to their aforementioned free option, Skype offers a relatively low-cost option for businesses, charging per user.
- The Pros: Skype for business has arguably the most comprehensive set of features of all the communication solutions, offering: large group calls, extensive conferencing capabilities, and an excellent API. Additionally, the communication system includes: messaging, screen sharing, audio and video calls, and more.
- The Cons: Despite all the benefits, there are have been complaints about shaky video quality in meetings of more than 25 people; and technical difficulties when uploading slides during presentations. Skype for Business is also significantly different than Skype, and offers no free trial– making it difficult for teams to “test drive” the product. Last but not least, Microsoft is looking to integrate Skype more and more into Office 365, so if you and your team want a focused communication solution, Skype might not be the best fit.
HipChat definitely lives up to its name with its excellent API and cool features.
- The Pros: One of the hippest things about HipChat is its competitive pricing, which makes it attractive when compared to others in the space. Hipchat has a web app version for those who want to save space on their devices. Like Slack, HipChat offers many integrations with other useful apps around the web like DocuSign, BlueJeans, and GIPHY.
- The Cons: What’s not so hip? There have been reported problems with audio calls. If you have a large team, this may not be the tool for you, it only allows audio calls with up to 20 people. If you rely heavily on call recordings, with HipChat, they can only be done through a 3rd party add-on.
Slack earned the spotlight of the work collaboration world early in its career.
- The Pros: Slack offers a modern-day spin on collaboration with its bright colors, well-archived materials, and easy integration with many other apps like: Dropbox, Twitter, Google Drive, and more. Slack boasts an excellent API and has focused full featured communication.
- The Cons: Slack has a slightly higher price tag than its competitors, in fact, only Cisco Spark is more expensive. Another area where this tool is “slacking” is the group call department. It only allows 15 users to join a call at once and doesn’t have conferencing functionality.
Next stop on the Facebook world domination checklist: the workplace.
- The Pros: Facebook Workplace offers all the FB classics users love, like: Groups, Messenger, the newsfeed, audio and video calling, profiles, and events. It also gives users the chance to share content, just as they would with a status update. Since most people are familiar with Facebook, the interface is a breeze to adapt to. Pricing, API, and support are also big selling points for the product.
- The Cons: Given its social media feel, the tool can be an easy distraction. Currently, you cannot perform group calls from the web app. There is also no desktop version of the application. Lastly, you are unable to add users to a text chat session that started as a 1:1 chat.
Circuit may be one of the lesser known platforms, but it is gaining traction in the marketplace.
- The Pros: Circuit is laser focused on communication and is chock full of features. They offer three different levels of service, with their lowest level “Team” package supporting groups up to 6 users, the most of any communication solution. Their conferencing capabilities are very strong, eliminating the need for a separate conferencing/meeting software. Lastly, users can flag individual chats, a capability unique only to them.
- The Cons: Circuit lacks a user directory, so you are unable to see who is online/offline at a glance. Additionally, the API is slightly less advanced than its competitors. If you’re looking for a certain conversation, you may be disappointed. The search feature is very centric to singular chats making it more difficult to quickly search across all chats.
CISCO became a household name for their technology, collaboration, and mobility tools. However, they may have missed the mark with Spark.
- The Pros: Spark allows users a free trial, and is pushing their Cisco Spark Board for easy presentations. Perhaps the biggest advantage is the security network backing the platform.
- The Cons: As a result of the big brand name, Spark holds a hefty price tag, pricier than all of its competitors. The free service offering has limited availability and is not available in some countries (e.g., Russia, Vietnam).
Fleep has been gaining attention from some prestigious publications and continues to gain recognition as a key communications platform.
- The Pros: Fleep has a unique pricing model, and prices are negotiable and tend to be quite affordable for medium-sized companies. The platform also has added extensive technology behind its email integration.
- The Cons: Fleep does not have native audio/video calling, instead, calls are made through a 3rd party. Even though extensive email integration can be a positive thing, it does make the interface significantly more complicated.
New communication and collaboration tools for the workplace are popping up every day. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the perfect tool for you and your team.
The most important thing is that everyone adapts to it and starts sharing. Happy hunting!