With many of us working remotely, much of the normal interaction between a Managed Service Provider (or any active business – your business) and customer must still take place. Of course, telephone communications are basically unchanged (at least via a VoIP solution like 3CX which allows quick transition) and some essential activities are still going to occur in-person. But what about the other times, when a meeting or other face-to-face interaction is simply a better option? (Medical professionals are certainly finding this challenge very present with the huge increase in demand for telehealth.) Furthermore, with more folks in general at home right now, webinars are very popular. We asked ourselves: which software will be the most effective, economical, and efficient choice from its core design, as well as grouped peripheral software? Which would be best for Certified CIO, and for our partners? 

There are many popular and useful options. These include Webex, GoToMeeting/Webinar, and Google Meet (among many others). For our company’s discussion, we primarily focused on Zoom and Microsoft Teams as our primary options. 

Zoom is certainly a popular option. The product is easy to use and provides much of the infrastructure needed to expand a general meeting setup into a webinar platform. For medical professionals who must remain HIPAA compliant, Zoom offers a low-priced option for during the COVID emergency, but we found its normal HIPAA compliant option could be quite costly. No one can predict the future, especially in this ever-evolving realm, so this is an area to which health professionals should pay particular attention. Additionally, recent cybersecurity issues—a major priority for us—cast a shadow on Zoom. Still, there are many great aspects to Zoom. It has a well-developed webinar infrastructure, name recognition in the field, and integrates well into many existing enterprise solutions. 

However, our platform of choice is Teams. Teams, as a native member of Microsoft 365, integrates very well and with little trouble into the remainder of the suite. A good example is, when creating a new meeting, our team invites are automatically distributed and events created on Outlook. (This integrates further into our CRM software.) We use teams internally for our meetings already (as well as general communication throughout the day), so it was a natural extension for us to investigate its uses beyond how we already were using it. We were pleased with what we found. A cost comparison made that portion of the decision quite easy: we were already paying for Teams in our Microsoft 365 suite, so extra expense is essentially zero. As we investigated it further, we were excited to learn that it could also serve our medical professional customers: Teams is easily configured into a HIPAA compliant and robust telehealth platform 

Teams also allows creation of a webinar (although Microsoft prefers the term “Live Event”) in much the same way, with added options, as one would create a meeting. One aspect we found a bit lacking in the Microsoft product is, at the time of this writing at least, there exists little in the way of webinar/Live Event registration and subsequent tie-in to our CRM software. As this is an important marketing consideration, we were forced to turn to third party solutions to do so. This is one area we expect improvement from Microsoft as the competition for tele-meetings and webinar platforms heats up. 

Here are some other opinions on the subject (external links):
Zoom vs. Microsoft Teams: Which video chat app to use during quarantine 
Zoom vs Microsoft Teams vs Google Meet: What’s the best video conferencing service? 

Which tele-meeting and webinar software has worked well for you? Are you curious how to get your Microsoft 365 running as a more effective communications platform? Click here to get things moving!

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