Pros and Cons of Using Skype for Business Video Conferencing Calls
Why Pay for Video Conferencing when Skype is Free?
Customers often ask me why they should spend money on commercial grade video conferencing solutions when Skype is free. I think this is a valid question.
In fact, I usually turn the tables on them and tell them that if Skype is working for them they should keep using it. Or, if someone has no experience with video conferencing and doesn’t know what type of video conferencing solution they might want, I tell them to try Skype or Google Hangouts. They are both free and Google Hangouts has better quality video.
But, once they start to bump their heads against some of the limitations of Skype then I know they are ready for the next conversation.
Skype definitely has some really attractive benefits:
- It is almost ubiquitous (over 600 million subscribers) and it’s easy to deploy (assuming your IT policy doesn’t prohibit it) you can be up and running within minutes.
- It is user friendly; everyone has heard stories of grandma using it to connect with their grand-kids. So, if grandma can use it, it must be simple, which can’t always be said for all desktop video clients.
- It’s free!
6 Reasons Skype May Not be the Right Solution for Your Business Video Conferencing Needs
Skype has a few limitations in the business environment which may mean it is not the right fit for your business’ video conferencing requirements:
1. Multi-Party Audio / Visual Conference Calling Reliability
Skype does not work well for multi-party calling. This is the #1 complaint I hear from Skype users. Skype works well person-to-person but once they start to add more parties into either an audio or video call the reliability goes way down and they spend a significant part of the meeting time managing the call. Then it dawns on them that Skype isn’t really free. It is costing them a lot of money to manage the technology and Skype is actually getting in the way of doing business.
2. Audio / Visual Integration
Skype is not easy to connect to a meeting room AV system. My clients are often looking to connect a remote desktop user to a video conferencing enabled meeting room. Skype works well for the remote end but trying to use Skype (or any other desktop videoconferencing client) in a meeting room, with more than a couple of people in it, doesn’t work very well.
3. More Than 2 People in a Meeting Room for Video Conferencing
You should not be using Skype to view several people in a meeting room. You should be using a PTZ camera with a wide-angle lens and a large focal length. Most USB webcams are great for one or two people, but not at all suitable for a meeting room. There are USB cameras available that will give you these features, see Vaddio’s EasyUSB tools, but they cost several thousand dollars.
4. Clear Audio for Multiple People in Audio Conferencing
To properly capture the sound of a room full of people you need Audio equipment to support multiple speakers. At least one or more sophisticated microphones with echo cancellation is required. There are USB based audio devices available from Vaddio and Clear One, which can be used in boardrooms. So for several hundred dollars clear audio can be achieved.
5. Quality of Audio and Video for Video Conferencing with VIPs
The quality of Skype in the business environment is a concern. The quality of Skype video calls can be unreliable due to poor sound or video. This is may be good enough if you are dealing with internal colleagues, but not for you clients or business partners. I don’t mind telling a colleague to drop the video conference session and call my cell but I hate when this happens with clients or partners. Business grade videoconferencing systems like Cisco’s Movi, Polycom’s new solutions or Vidyo, do a great job of providing consistent call quality. And Vidyo can manage bandwidth much better than Skype.
6. Secure & Confidential Video Conferencing
Skype is not as secure as other software for video conferencing solutions. Skype relies on user access passwords for security, and although the computer-to-computer voice calls are said to be encrypted, Skype’s technology is proprietary and there are concerns that have surfaced – for example. Security is one of the primary underlying mandatory requirements in business and without it many IT initiatives are DOA (Dead on Arrival). If your business deals with confidential information, then a videoconferencing system using an HTTPS connection and encryption options is highly recommended.
Assess Your Business’ Video Conferencing Needs to Find the Right Solution
So, when clients ask me, “Why not just use Skype?”, I ask them:
- How much time are you spending managing Skype?
- Do you need to Skype in a meeting room?
- Is audio and video quality important?
- Have you considered the level of security you need?
If these things aren’t important to them, I tell them to keep using Skype! If Skype meets their business needs, then that’s great. If not, I’m happy to help them find the right video conferencing solution.
If you are struggling with finding an appropriate video conferencing solution for your business, contact us.