Top 10 Communications Software Systems
Even if it weren’t for such a digitalized environment to push our way through, communication would still be the driving force behind our business’s success. While it stands that all team members need to focus on particular tasks, the lack of coherence and synchronization of those tasks would still mean their efforts were senseless. That’s why we believe that a modern business cannot go without a private communication network, and the breakthrough on certain apps on the market is already proving it.
As it turns out, online retailers, service providers, and knowledge workers all need quality communications software to eliminate the fuss that would arise from limited information access. With programs such as the ones we are to discuss in this article, the teams actually work as teams, saving time and boosting the productivity of their businesses. Let’s examine how some of the best communications software services make this possible:
1. RingCentral – 9.6/10
RingCentral is a well-known cloud phone system holding our Best Communications Software Award for 2015, delivered for reasons fairly similar to the ones that make this tool so popular. Unlike what a company would expect from a phone system (and which usually goes down to purchasing hardware and installing applications), RingCentral is one of those apps you set up and manage in minutes.
RingCentral offers a variety of enterprise-level communication capabilities, including texting, call handling, voicemail, fax, mobile apps, and even BYOD. It will blend seamlessly within your already installed software infrastructure, and you won’t have to bother your IT department to make data run smoothly from leading business apps such as Zendesk, Desk, Dropbox, Google, Salesforce, and the Microsoft suite. In fact, RingCentral will hardly ever make you rely on technical support, as using it is simplified specifically to suit the needs of less savvy users. Finally, RingCentral is also suitable for audio and video conferencing, even if its flexible pricing scheme is not such a financial burden as similar apps can be.
There is also a great free demo of the service available to show you all the key features of RingCentral.
2. 8×8 VoIP Phone Service – 9.3/10
There are a lot of discussions going around on whether businesses can really benefit from a VoIP system or not, but 8×8 VoIP Service is one of the most successful apps that makes those benefits visible. Introduced just few years ago, 8X8 VoIP didn’t take long to fascinate the market, and is today’s preferred communication services of many brand giants, such as McDonalds, Shutterstock, iCruise, Allstate, and others. Surprisingly enough, 8×8 VoIP prices start as low as $19.99 per month and the transition to higher plans is painless.
There are many reasons why 8×8 VoIP is so popular, the main one being the suite of advanced features such as instant messaging, smartphone integration, internet faxing, automated answering and call routing, and the unique smartphone-managed web conferencing. Users have also been impressed by the company’s reliable support, being one click away from solving any problem that may arise in the system. We also recommend 8×8 VoIP to small and mid-sized businesses, because the service it can offer is tailored to suit every company with 5 to 5,000 employees.
3. Jive – 9.1/10
Jive was designed to respond to the social collaboration and communication needs of businesses from all scales and industries. It can be useful for every company trying to achieve strategic alignment of teams, and to improve its communication strategy to the extent of making collaboration more productive. As our stats indicate, that’s exactly what this product has done for its customers, which explains its position on our top ten lists.
So why would you choose Jive? To start with, the product is loaded with out-of-the-box capabilities, all aimed to enhance communication even in the most diverse teams. Jive is simple and has a very user-friendly interface, and you can customize everything from the looks to the most complex analytics and reporting, introduce your viable business plans, and determine the course of action. Not many programs provide such flexibility; especially not on Jive’s out-of-shelf price (payment starts as low as $5 per month). Besides, Jive lets you choose whether you want to deploy it in cloud, or set up your own intranet in order to use it. On top of that, you can include as many users as you need, and follow updates using nothing but your mobile phone.
4. Slack – 9.0/10
Fairly similar to Jive, Slack presents a whole new level of instant messaging uniting various communication channels in one platform. It is another of our popular and top-rated communication apps, which helps both individuals and businesses to communicate, and to store their interaction data in a searchable and actionable database.
What is really impressive about Slack is that it never stops developing. It was introduced as a basic chat app, but grew to be an all-in-one business communication service which nowadays integrates with many popular systems to make sharing as easy as possible. In fact, you can count on numerous configurable synchronization features to make sure data will run smoothly and without delay. On top of that, you will have access to native mobile apps to communicate and share on the go.
Other important features you should consider checking are the configurable and flexible notifications (both for the phone and the desktop app), the webhooks and the open API which allows integration with every business app you may be using, 1:1 private messaging, open communication channels, snippets, emoji support, and many others.
5. Join.me – 9.0/10
From its very first arrival on the digital scene, Join.me was tagged as a business collaboration app, rather than a personal communications one. It is because it helps companies organize and hold online business meetings, web conferences, and presentations, keeping everybody in the company one button away from joining a conversation.
Join.me is LogMeIn’s top product developed by both IT and business experts interested to deliver an unbreakable base for your corporate information, which is why it is empowered with enterprise authentication and share control. The security provisions count for every plan, including the forever-free one which covers 10 users and a plethora of VoIP capabilities. What this means is that small businesses can afford having a powerful tool like Join.me in their suite at no cost.
The same as in the previous cases, Join.me is a cloud hosted service, meaning that there is no need for you to download or install software. The interface is friendly and appealing, and can be customized to make it more brand-appropriate. In fact, the spontaneous nature and personal background/URL customization make it more than suitable for creative and artistic businesses.
6. Skype – 9.0/10
There is little we can share about Skype and which you don’t already know, except maybe of the fact that this cloud-hosted and open source solution can be equally as good for large corporations as it is for small businesses and individuals. Being a pioneer in the industry, Skype pushed traditional communication boundaries long ago, and almost eliminated phone communication from the scene. The reasons were more than obvious.
Before than anything else, Skype is a free service. It will enable you to hold online meetings for up to 250 people and encrypt your information without paying a single cent. There are also higher plans, such as the Online Plan ($5.50), Office 365 Business Essentials ($5.00) and Office 365 Business Premium which include HD videos, IM, audio calling, and technical support, while some of them offer even a 50GB mailbox and office apps for mobile devices. In any of those cases, Skype remains an easy to use and affordable service applied everywhere around the world, which makes it one of the primary products you should consider when looking for the perfect communication system for your business.
7. ShoreTel Sky – 8.9/10
Available in almost every country in the world and priced on quote basis, ShoreTel Sky makes for the perfect business communication service for companies interested to bring their teams together. Initially, ShoreTel Sky was just a cloud hosted phone system, but was soon enriched with a plethora of automated attendant services, calling features, IM, conferencing, and file sharing to cover as many internal/external communication channels as possible. Even if it is powerful enough to sustain external communication, ShoreTel Sky is still best at delivering private and internal communication channels.
Alongside conferencing and sharing files on time, ShoreTel Sky can help your productivity grow by making your brand more reputable. Soon after you’ve implemented it, ShoreTel Sky will improve the quality of your service, and clients will be more engaged and satisfied than ever. An additional bonus is the tool’s mobile features suite, which enable managers to stay connected with their desk phones even outside office hours, meaning that they hardly ever miss their calls. On top of that, you can use ShoreTel Sky for CRM and ERP purposes, which means it can also affect the quality of your business intelligence.
8. Google Hangouts – 8.8/10
Most users are already familiar with Google Hangouts due to personal reasons, and will therefore be able to guess how useful this tool can be for business purposes. Ideally suitable for small and mid-sized companies, Google Hangouts engages users in various communication channels, covering text and voice messages, and video conferencing for an unlimited number of users.
The reason why your business can benefit from Google Hangouts is that the program generates business email addresses, integrates calendars, spreadsheets and online documents, and allows you to create project sites in a very easy way. As you can expect, storage won’t be an issue, and documents will be neatly organized in a searchable database from where you can export them in different formats. To make matters even better, you will have access to Google Vault for eDiscovery, and it will cover all of your emails, chats, and documents. Right when you thought matters cannot get any better – Google Hangouts packages cost only $5 and $10!
9. HipChat – 8.8/10
HipChat is Atlassian’s communication masterpiece – a cute, easy to use app that costs nothing more than $2, and covers all communication requirements your business may have. The platform was specifically designed to allow business team to chat in a safe environment, where data will be stored for further usage, and participants won’t be distracted the same way they are using social networks.
Long story short, HipChat was designed through a business prism, and the rationale was to provide advanced collaboration features such as screen sharing, video conferencing, file sharing, and notifications, and most of all to give users their individualized environment they get to customize and to make it more brand-suitable. That’s how creative and inspired teams got to love HipChat, and how it overcame many well-established names in the communication software industry.
For your needs, we recommend you to check out both the integrations and mobile connectivity of the app, considering it especially because of its low price and the 256-bit SSL Encryption Security system it offers. Have in mind also that HipChat is fully searchable, so there is no risk of losing valuable information.
10. Viber – 8.7/10
Viber is an extremely popular IM and VoIP app available on all devices and to all users, and it comes for free in most of the cases. Still, the rate depends on the country where you’re using it, even if the price is usually less than $2 per month.
Designed with a simple, cute, and memorable interface, Viber is today’s leader in the individual communication apps category. Still, Viber is much more than a voice call and a chat app – it is packed with file and media exchange features, newsfeeds and HD functionalities, which make it suitable for the needs of small, or even mid-sized companies. What Viber can do for your company is to ease communication, allowing you to participate in public chats and follow them and to stay connected with your team regardless of your location. The fact that it can be used on literally every device eliminates the need to worry whether all team members will be able to access it and to participate in the discussions.