The COVID-19 pandemic has forced home working upon the vast majority of UK businesses. This has meant that the unified communications debate has moved away from Skype for Business versus Cisco onto new territory: Zoom versus Microsoft Teams. With the recent announcement that Skype for Business Online will be shelved on the 31st July 2021, the time is coming for IT teams to evaluate what their next communication and collaboration solution will be.
Both platforms have developed rapidly over a short period of time, and both have come to be leaders in the field, with an impressive array of features to their names. The ongoing competition between them is fuelling ever faster innovation, and both services are improving constantly.
These new cloud-based communication solutions have a lot in common, and this makes them hard to compare.
Zoom has become arguably the biggest name in the video communications industry. It is a cloud platform with capacity for video and audio conferencing, chat, webinars and collaboration.
Microsoft Teams is the successor of Skype for Business and it arrived with a host of improvements on Skype. It is Microsoft’s all in one workplace collaboration tool, combining meetings, calls, chats and file sharing. It is fully integrated with all Office 365 and is simple to use and implement and new features are continually released.
It is undeniable that both platforms are at the top of their game; at the highest level they appear to offer a lot of the same services. They both provide video conferencing and telephony. But if you start to look a little deeper at more complex or processing features, differences start to appear. User experience, pricing and integrations are all measures on which the two platforms can be differentiated and compared.
Both Zoom and Teams enable meetings, calls, screen-sharing, collaboration and video chats. Teams is set apart by its integration with the Office 365 stack. This integration allows for seamless integration with users’ other apps and makes working efficient and simple, keeping all of your documents and information in one cohesive system.
Zooms partnership with Slack partly compensates for this loss to Teams, but the partnership does not offer as much functionality as the Microsoft system.
User experience is one field where Zoom undeniably draws ahead. The simple interface and set-up is incomparable. Teams requires a working knowledge of the different channel and team set up, Office 365 apps and file-sharing. Zoom is a low-click, pared-back system which its users rave about.
Zoom again draws ahead here, Zoom allows users to view up to 1000 people at once in their video call whereas Teams allows for only nine. Although Teams has plans to expand their service to 49 users, this may be too little too late.
Both systems offer device management, dual-screen room support and other standard features. Teams does have one advantage over Zoom with its proximity detectors which make joining meetings very simple.
The call function is the most important element of both services. Businesses rely on a consistent and reliable service to conduct their business securely.
Microsoft was initially ahead in this field with its inbuilt capacity for phone systems, Microsoft Phone System with calling plans or Direct Routing. A lot of these capabilities were able to be taken from the Skype for Business systems.
Zoom’s telephony solution is the cloud-based Zoom Phone. This is a very new service but one which is developing rapidly. The service has all the standard functions of call recording, re-routing and management with added features like the interoperability with standards-based endpoints Polycom and Yealink. The system includes specialisations for desktop and mobile devices as well as a “Bring Your Own Carrier” system which directly challenges the Direct Routing Functionality of Teams.
Integrations, or app-store add-ons are designed to increase users’ productivity whilst using the app. Zoom has over 100 integrations to offer and its app-store set up is a draw for the younger audience who are accustomed to finding functions this way.
Teams’ integration with Office 365 is its main draw, and its usefulness is undeniable. Beyond the Office integration, there are 70 integrations for Teams including for the weather, news or surveys.
There are free versions available of both platforms with paid plans including more advanced features.
Zoom’s free plan is arguably better value for money than Microsoft Teams, as it allows meetings of up to 100 people. However Zoom places a 40-minute limit on meetings which is a handicap for those with business needs.
Teams’ free version includes a limited chat and collaboration service with limited access to productivity apps. The key features missing are administration tools and Microsoft support.
Teams’ Premium plan is slightly cheaper than Zoom’s equivalent but their basic plans are similarly priced.
There is no clear winner in this debate. Where Zoom draws ahead in communication with its superior User Experience and Room Systems; Teams draws ahead in collaboration with its integrations. The answer to which service is better will depend on your organisations’ specific needs and usage requirements.
Many businesses find that Teams is best for internal collaboration whilst Zoom is better for external communication, either with clients or vendors.
The good thing is that the two services can be integrated together – an option that many people are taking, with more and more people working with multiple platforms at once. Better yet, the healthy competition between the two companies is driving them both to be continuously innovating and improving their service provision.
If you would like to find out more about either service, please get in touch.