Zoom vs Microsoft Teams: What is best for your business?

Video conferencing and workplace collaboration platforms have hit new highs in recent months due to new working from home policies, social distancing and government lockdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it was reported that video conferencing apps saw a record 62M downloads during one week in March.

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While they are hitting new highs, the debate we are finding business owners and senior management having is no longer between Skype for Business and Cisco but rather Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

Unfortunately, the answer to this debate is not as straight forward as you might think. Both platforms have seen a rapid development over the past couple of years, both with equally impressive new features that will benefit your business. Read on for an overview of both platforms where we will outline their benefits and what they have to offer.

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Zoom

As the country went into lockdown, Zoom quickly became a ‘go-to’ for users who were looking for a free, easily accessible way to catch up with colleagues, friends and relatives. The platform offers HD video conferencing and audio capabilities alongside useful chat features which work on Android, iOS and Windows devices.

The Zoom video conference platform offers a free basic plan that hosts up to 100 participants. However, there is a 40-minute limit on group meetings. When factoring in setup times, it is realistic to think that you will need more time than this, so there are options for small and medium business teams as well as large enterprises. You can find out about their plans and pricing here.

Unlike Microsoft Teams, Zoom supports up to 49 videos appearing on the screen at once. This is something that Microsoft have been eagerly trying to match since the COVID-19 outbreak, after they upped the number of video-call participants from four to nine on Teams in May. Microsoft are continuing to make improvements weekly. However, there is no specific timeline of when this will be achieved yet.

Zoom is famously known for its customisable backgrounds which is good for adding a little fun as well as a little privacy for those who are having to work from their bedrooms and want to shield this from prying eyes.

As the platform surged in popularity throughout the pandemic, there have been a number of concerns surrounding its security practices, with a high percentage of this being based on the default settings and mechanisms that make it so easy to use. Where each Zoom call has a randomly generate ID number between 9 and 11 digits long which participants use to gain access to the meeting, researchers were finding these to be easily guessable and even brute forceable, meaning anyone could gain access to meetings. This led to a phenomenon called “Zoombombing”, where pranksters were joining Zoom calls to broadcast inappropriate and shocking videos. Fortunately, from May, several features were deployed which included password requirements for all meetings as well as waiting rooms for calls.

Zoombombing was however, only the first of many security concerns the platform has faced, with it being reported that they were having to rewrite parts of their privacy policy after it was discovered that users were susceptible to their personal information being used to target ads.

The UK Government was also criticised by many for their use of it because of the security concerns. A government spokesperson did defend their use of it stating, “there is no security reason for Zoom not to be used for conversations below a certain classification”. Others were not so convinced though, 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

Microsoft Teams is a hub for all-round team collaboration, integrating the people, content and tools necessary for teams to produce their best work wherever they may be working. If you already use Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) in your business, then you will already have access to Microsoft Teams. It is largely these businesses who have Microsoft 365 implemented that use the platform to its full potential. Microsoft have however, in recent months, lifted the restrictions on their free version so that businesses and schools can use it to its full potential without the need of a traditional subscription. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tech giant also announced that they are offering a six-month free trial of 365 E1, a version which includes Teams. You can find out more about this here.

Microsoft Teams offers a robust feature set. Not only can users chat and video conference, but they can share and collaborate in real-time with files synced in OneDrive and SharePoint due to the seamless integration it has with all Microsoft 365 apps. Therefore, if you are a Microsoft 365 users, Teams is a logical progression. Much like Zoom, all features can be accessed on Android, iOS and Windows devices.

Microsoft have also recently added virtual backgrounds to Teams, as discussed above, you can also hide where you may be working from prying eyes on Teams and replace with a more neutral background.

As more businesses and individuals are relying on video conferencing and calls amidst the pandemic, Microsoft have done their best to differentiate themselves from Zoom in terms of privacy and security. They did this by posting a blog on their commitment to privacy and security in Teams where they explained how they will 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. They also post regularly in a Transparency Hub.

What’s best for you?

These are both excellent platforms and selecting the right one for you will depend largely on how you envision using it and what value you would like to gain. If your requirements are purely for video conferencing and little else, then with its 49-video title and universal appeal, Zoom is a great choice for you. However, if you would prefer a full productivity hub, with text and voice chat as well as video and integration with M365, and collaboration features, you will get more value from Microsoft Teams.

In the uncertain times we are finding ourselves in, video conferencing and chat tools will be essential tool for some to keep going throughout the pandemic. For example, if like some of our customers you rely on face-to-face communication for your sales process, implementing one of these options will ensure you can continue this without having to be there physically.

Here at the entrust IT Group we have been using Microsoft Teams which has been a core tool to keeping our own employees as well as our customers working throughout the lockdown. If you would like to find out how it could benefit you and be implemented in your organisation, get in touch today for a free, no obligation chat with a member of our team.

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