It’s hard to believe that only a few years ago, online meetings took second place behind in-person alternatives. Today, the business landscape has transformed, and with it, so has the way in which companies communicate internally and externally. In this Cisco Webex review, we'll take a deep dive into one of the best video conferencing services available.
Zoom and Skype may still be the best-known video conferencing platforms, but with Webex, Cisco has upped the ante, providing market-leading features and conferencing facilities for up to 100,000 people.
Cisco Webex Meetings: plans and pricing
You can pay for Cisco Webex on an annual or monthly basis. On top of the Free plan, which gets support for 40-minute meetings for up to 100 participants, there are Business and Enterprise plans.
The Business plan costs $25 per user per month (or the equivalent of $22.50 when paid annually) and upgrades meeting capacity to 200 (for calls lasting up to 24 hours). Like other rivals, its video recording cloud storage is pretty limited at 10GB, which will leave most hosts recording locally and uploading to a separate cloud storage drive, incurring extra costs.
VoIP calling is pretty well covered with things like hold, transfer, forwarding, six-way conferencing, and extensions all included. If you want to record your calls, or get access to call barging, a call queue, and voicemail to email, you’ll be needing the top-tier Enterprise plan, the pricing of which is only available by quote.
Finally, the Enterprise plan is where things get pretty advanced for video calling, too. The same 24-hour limit applies, but up to 1,000 participants can join. There are some upgrades along the way which can get you inviting up to 100,000 people (though only 500 can be active hosts, cohosts, and panelists).
Cisco Webex Meetings: features
The platform’s features can be split into three distinct parts: meeting, calling, and messaging.
Cisco Webex has a great deal of in-meeting features. Most you’d expect, but there are some nice surprises, such as personalized screen designs. Meetings are held in HD video and audio for up to 1,000 participants, and there are a number of ways to attend, including VoIP, a direct dial-in number, or being called in by the meeting host.
There are options for sharing your whole screen, apps like Microsoft PowerPoint, or working collaboratively on a digital whiteboard. There is a range of recording options enabling you to record directly to your device or store recordings in the cloud. All recordings also include auto transcripts too.
Cisco Webex also integrates with a number of calendars, such as Google, making scheduling more straightforward.
One stand-out feature is the level of in-meeting personalization available. The video panels onscreen can be moved or resized to your liking, and you can create virtual, customizable backgrounds or blur your existing background. There are even breakout rooms so you can splinter off into smaller groups in the same meeting.
With Cisco Webex, you can use an allocated phone number to make and receive dedicated business calls on any device you choose. There is the option to use a number you already have, create a new one, or assign multiple numbers to your employees.
Calls can be routed to different parts of your company and organized through an automatic phone menu. There are more advanced features, including call holding, forwarding, transfer, and shared lines. A visual voicemail service enables you to see any messages waiting.
Making and receiving calls to any other Webex user is included via the app for free and paying customers.
Cisco Webex enables both group and one-to-one messaging, in or out of a meeting. You can share gifs, add emojis, and edit or remove messages. File sharing is quick and easy, and files are well-organized next to the chat window.
It’s also possible to integrate your existing business software. Some of the most popular of the many integrations are Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and Salesforce. Tech-focused companies can make the most of GitHub integration too.
Cisco Webex Meetings: interface and in use
Setting up Cisco Webex is quick and easy. After downloading the app, you just need to install it, verify your identity through a code sent to your email, and then create a password and username.
The interface is well-designed and attractive, but users new to video conferencing might find it a little complicated. This is because Cisco Webex is more than just a video platform; it’s an all-around business tool with most of its services catered for under one roof.
Take your time to explore the platform, particularly the apps and integrations, and you’ll quickly discover a massive range of use cases and a very useful tool at your disposal.
Cisco Webex Meetings: support
Cisco Webex has comprehensive online support services. These include video tutorials, articles, and free training programs as well as daily demos and live events with product walkthroughs, and even guest speakers. Whether an industry event is needed for your video conferencing needs is questionable, but you have lots of opportunities to maximize your software experience.
There is also a dedicated help center and a community site where Webex users can share tips and help one another directly. For personalized support, you get what you pay for. The free service only grants access to support articles, while paying customers get access to chat, call, and online case logging. Enterprise plans get the addition of a dedicated company representative, which comes as part of the more costly package.
Cisco Webex Meetings: security
Cisco Webex is brimming with security features. Cloud recordings are encrypted, there is an option for end-to-end encryption, and you can add meeting passwords and lock rooms too.
On top of this, the service includes, at the Enterprise level, a FedRamp authorized program, while all paid plans benefit from HIPAA and BAA compliance and TLS (Transport Layer Security) 1.2 support.
Cisco’s main competitor in the video conferencing space is Zoom. Although Zoom is probably better known, both platforms offer a similar service at a fairly comparable cost. Zoom is more straightforward to operate, but Cisco Webex has more interesting in-call features.
Microsoft Teams is another key competitor. Microsoft Teams does include more security features, such as the EU’s Model Clause compliance, although Cisco Webex is sufficient in this sphere. Microsoft Teams is also more affordable; however, Cisco Webex has many more integrations, over 2,000 compared to around 250 for Teams.
Cisco Webex is a brilliant platform and more than capable of handling the needs of any business, regardless of size. It is a little on the pricey side, which might exclude some users. That said, the quality of the service is well worth the expense, and the sheer number of integrations could quickly make the system an integral part of your business.
- We've also featured the best productivity tools.