Skype for Business users, do you want the good news or the bad news first?
Well, the bad news is that Skype for Business will be retired on July 31, 2021.
That means your company will need to find an alternative platform for internal communications.
The good news is that the VoIP market has matured over the past few years. The number of cloud-based chat platforms has been growing at an astounding rate, making us spoiled for choice.
Here is the list of the top 10 Skype Alternatives
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2013, Zoom’s popularity has skyrocketed. The company’s statistics show that 300 million daily users worldwide used Zoom for video conferencing in April 2020. Compared to 10 million daily users in December, Zoom has grown impressively fast.
One of the main benefits of Zoom is that it offers a freemium model for both individual users and businesses. It includes unlimited video meetings for two participants, as well as 40-minute video conferences for large teams of up to 100 people.
The application can be used both via desktop and mobile devices. Only the person scheduling the meeting needs to register and download Zoom. Others can access it via the conference link they receive via email.
The greatest weakness of the Zoom app is poor data security practices. End-to-end encryption for calls is available to paying customers only, which resulted in many data security issues.
Nextiva is the best-rated online phone system by U.S. News. What sets Nextiva apart from similar VoIP telephony services is its comprehensive business collaboration suite.
Nextiva offers a free basic plan that includes meetings with up to three people, 1:1 video calling, screen sharing, and chat. The professional plan lets you schedule meetings, record calls, and schedule video conferences with up to 250 participants.
The good thing is that, apart from internal communications, Nextiva lets you manage customer interactions across multiple channels. It offers a wide range of call center features, such as call recording or call routing. Most importantly, it provides call analytics features and integrates with your CRM to help you get the most out of customer data.
Unlike Zoom or WeChat, Nextiva is dedicated to improving online data security. It encrypts VoIP calls and uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to ensure maximum privacy.
When I say free and secure video meetings, Viber is probably the first thing that crosses your mind. Viber offers a wide range of impressive communication features, including instant chats, instant voice messaging, HD audio and video calls, and GIF extensions. Users particularly love that Viber allows them to delete and edit the messages they did not mean to send.
Many businesses also turn to Viber to improve branding and customer service. Namely, Viber for Business goes far beyond team collaboration. With it, companies can also build Viber communities with an unlimited number of participants, design branded promotional stickers, encourage product discovery, communicate with customers, and create targeted ads.
If you are concerned about the privacy of your employees’ online calls, Jitsi is the perfect chat app for you. It is an open-source platform that encrypts all conversations. When chatting with friends or coworkers, you can also choose to encrypt your messages and, in that way, prevent hackers from opening and reading them.
Jitsi is perfect for both private chats and employee collaboration. No matter if you are holding a 1:1 meeting or a video conference with 200 people, the quality of calls will not disappoint you. The developers behind the app did not limit the number of participants – that depends on internet connections and specific business needs.
Alternatively, Jitsi offers a wide range of amazing features, such as open collaboration on textual documents, screen sharing, play in-room for YouTube videos, live YouTube streaming, and password-protected chat rooms.
The platform works for all operating systems. There is also its browser variant, Jitsi Meet. With it, you just need to create a conversation and add people by sending a link to them. To use Jitsi, you do not need to create an account.
You can use WeChat on almost any operating system except Linux. They also provide web-based video chat options for users that do not want to download the app.
Apart from traditional chat options, the app also allows users to share screens and create phone calls and video calls over the internet with up to nine participants. WeChat offers a unique People Nearby feature, letting you meet new people in your vicinity.
WeChat also offers many in-app purchases, from awesome stickers for the WeChat messenger to online shopping apps.
The major disadvantage of WeChat is its data security flaws. The platform is developed by a Chinese company. Before downloading the app, you should remember that Chinese data protection laws and regulations are stricter than those in the U.S. or the European Union. They control the internet. Given that, it is not surprising at all that researchers claim that China intercepts international WeChat messages.
Wire is one of the safest messaging and team collaboration platforms out there. It uses end-to-end encryption to back up all data transferred between users. The data is stored on servers in the EU and conforms to the most essential data protection regulations.
You can install Wire on every operating system, including Windows, Linux, Android, macOS, and iOS. Moreover, you can start conversations directly via the browser, without downloading software.
The tool offers traditional messenger options, such as chat features, file sharing, and video conferencing. Most importantly, it allows you to directly share data from other applications you use, including YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, and Shopify.
Unfortunately, Wire is not the best option for large teams, especially those working remotely. Namely, it allows you to schedule video calls with only four people.
The app is free for individual users, while its enterprise solutions start at $5.83 per month.
Fuze is a cloud-based platform, specifically created for modern companies looking for reliable communication tools. It is a unified enterprise collaboration solution that brings together a wide range of amazing features, from high-quality video experiences to seamless group messaging.
Using Fuze to improve employee collaboration is easy. All you need to do is create a clickable link for your employees. To join the meeting, they do not need to download the Fuze app or install a plugin. Once they click on the link, the call will load via the browser. Fuze also lets you communicate with the people outside of your organization, allowing you to invite anyone with an email address to join the meeting.
Talky is a browser-based chat tool, meaning it requires no software installations or updates. This tool is free and it is perfect for private chats, as well as small teams. It provides video chat options for up to 15 people, as well as screen sharing.
One of the main benefits of Talky lies in its user-friendliness. To start a chat, all you need to do is go to the talky.io website, create a unique URL for your chatroom, and share it with your friends or coworkers.
As one of the most popular team collaboration platforms, Slack is committed to improving user experiences.
One of the main advantages of Slack lies in its user-friendly and intuitive interfaces. Employee conversations happen across multiple channels. Users can create new channels around different topics and join or leave existing channels.
Slack also provides a wide range of advanced features, such as chatbot integrations, automated reminders, task-list management, custom shortcuts, and search box capabilities. The tool offers a plethora of interactions with tools of every type, from Zoom and Gmail to HubSpot and Salesforce.
Slack also invests a lot in data privacy. They recently introduced Enterprise Key Management (EKM), a security add-on for enterprise-grade businesses.
10. Microsoft Teams
For many business owners, Microsoft Teams is a logical alternative to Skype for Business. It provides a lot of amazing features that will take employee collaboration to the next level. Microsoft Teams offers instant messaging, calling options, video conferencing, screen sharing, file sharing, and online meetings.
One of its most sophisticated features is custom backgrounds that let you eliminate distractions and make meetings more professional. With this feature, you can use friendly backgrounds for team collaboration and more professional backgrounds for meetings with clients.
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft Teams offers integrations with a wide array of business applications, such as Trello, Tasks, Wrike, etc.
Over to You
Poor video quality, glitches in multi-party calling, spam messages from hacked accounts, virtual cameras not working, issues with copying links and photos – those are just some of the numerous problems Skype users experience.
For any business, irrespective of its size, effective communication is critical for faster growth. With the tools mentioned above, you will improve employee communication and enable remote teams.
Sure, when choosing the right alternative to Skype, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Consider your data security standards, the size of the team, and your budget before investing in a new employee collaboration tool.