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 (opens in new tab) review, we'll take a deep dive into one of the best video conferencing services (opens in new tab) 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.
Plans and pricing
You can pay for Cisco Webex on an annual or monthly basis. There are four options for both: Free, Starter, Business, and Enterprise. Annually, the Starter plan costs $13.50 per host per month, the Business plan costs $26.95 per host per month, and the cost of the Enterprise plan is calculated on a case-by-case basis.
Monthly, the Starter plan (opens in new tab) costs $14.95 per host per month, the Business plan (opens in new tab) $29.95 per host per month and again, the Enterprise plan (opens in new tab) has bespoke pricing.
The Free plan (opens in new tab) is only available to a single host and includes limited features and a tiny 50-minute call limit. The Starter plan facilitates 1 to 50 hosts, the Business plan is suitable for up to 100 hosts, and anything above this is covered by the Enterprise plan. In terms of features, all paid plans have a 24-hour meeting length limit and access to all core features, such as screen sharing and MP4 recording.
However, the more you pay, the more participants you can have on a call (150 for the Starter plan, 200 for the Business plan, and up to 100,000 for the Enterprise plan) and the more data you can store in the cloud. There are also some added security benefits and advanced support for the Enterprise plan.
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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab), 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 free via the app.
Cisco Webex enables both group and one-to-one messaging, in our out of a meeting. You can share gifs, add emojis, and edit or remove messages. File sharing (opens in new tab) 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.
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.
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 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 includes online-only support, the Starter and Business plans include chat access and telephone support, while the Enterprise plan adds a dedicated rep to the mix.
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 (opens in new tab). Although Zoom is probably better known, both platforms offer a similar service, but Cisco Webex is a little more affordable. Zoom is more straightforward to operate, but Cisco Webex has more interesting in-call features.
Microsoft Teams (opens in new tab) 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.
- You can sign up to Cisco Webex Meetings here (opens in new tab).
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