Communication is now fundamental to the success of businesses. However, there are obstacles in an enterprise world that are increasingly turning to remote work. Cisco Webex is a tool that aims to tie teams together and promote collaboration wherever they are. One of the leading video conferencing platforms, Webex meetings are a powerful way to stay connected. In the following Webex review, we will see how the service compares to Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Ease of use
Value for Money
Starting from: $17/month
Pricing Model: Per user
No free trial
Yes, has free version
- Solid free version
- Ideal for enterprise users
- An amazing list of integrations
- Meeting recording
- Not enough cloud storage
- Small business
- Medium business
- Large enterprises
- Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based
- Mobile - Android
- Mobile - iPhone
- Mobile - iPad
- Desktop - Mac
- Desktop - Windows
Collaboration is one of the buzzwords in enterprise at the moment. While trends come and go, it seems the concept of collaborating and connecting across an organization is here to stay. In just a few years, we have seen the business shift towards remote work and digital meetings. But let’s see in our Webex review how meetings have evolved now.
Gone are the days where organizations put more value on in-person meetings. Instead, through a combination of tech innovation, shifting views on remote work, and a global pandemic, online meetings are now an essential source of connection for businesses worldwide. In the following Cisco Webex review, we will look at one of the leading video conferencing platforms, especially for organizations seeking enterprise-grade features.
While Zoom has grabbed the headlines and become the biggest video conference provider, this is a hotly contested market. From Microsoft’s Teams and Skype to Google’s Meet, there are a lot of successful video conferences and collaboration tools available.
When using Cisco Webex meetings, you will get a dedicated service like Zoom, Skype, and Meet than an all-around collaboration platform like Microsoft Teams. In other words, the Webex app is a platform that can be anything you need to be in terms of enterprise meetings.
To ensure Webex moves with the changing times of business conferencing, Cisco has recently revamped the platform. With plenty of new features, a massive price reduction, and a sleek UI, now may be the time to move your business to Cisco Webex. While it remains expensive, the combination of enterprise-grade security, rich features, and unrivaled integration makes Webex an enticing choice.
What is Webex
Cisco Webex is a cloud-based collaboration app suite with a focus on meetings and video conferencing. Across the platform, users access different software, including Webex Teams, Webex Meetings, Webex Events, and Webex Devices. When Cisco rebranded the service in 2018, it combined the Cisco Spark collaboration app with Webex to create an all-new experience.
Cisco describes Webex as “one app for everything. And everyone.” It is a bold claim and is similar to the approach Microsoft takes with its Microsoft Teams product. That means instead of focusing on one area of the communication/collaboration pipeline. Instead, Cisco Webex tries to cover all bases. So, using the Webex productivity tool allows you to manage your teams and nurture collaboration in one place.
What sets Webex apart from some of its rivals is its focus on major corporations as much as SMBs and individual users. In addition, Webex is available on mobile and desktop applications, while a web version (with fewer features than the apps).
What is a Webex Meeting?
As remote work has become increasingly necessary and valuable, holding digital meetings is standard for most organizations. That means Webex Meetings is now one of the most important tools available on the Webex platform.
It taps directly into the Webex video conferencing tools to provide virtual team meetings and collaboration tools for organizations worldwide. The real-time features available during meetings include recording content, custom backgrounds and layouts, broadcasting, screen sharing, and co-hosting.
Cisco also ensures users can integrate seamlessly with other popular collaboration services, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack. That means users can start Webex meetings directly within those applications. Furthermore, Webex Meetings also works with popular productivity apps like Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive, Outlook, IBM Connections, Google Workspace, and Google Calendar.
How to use Webex?
Cisco Webex makes it easy for organizations to get up and run. For example, you can be setting up a meeting or video call in no time after creating a Webex account. All you need to do is download the Webex app, verify your email, and create a username and password. You can then access the Webex login and start using the platform.
While we would not rank Webex as the best communication/collaboration UI – that distinction goes to Microsoft Teams – it is quite easy to use. The interface has a nice aesthetic, with an attractive menu system, but is also a little too complex for its good. In addition, there is a business focus to the design, so newcomers to Webex may be confused by elements of the UI.
How to set up a Webex meeting?
Starting a meeting on Cisco Webex is a smooth experience that takes just a few seconds. Because meetings are at the core of the Webex experience, you can start one directly from the home screen. In addition, if you are creating a meeting for later, the integrated calendar makes it easy to schedule meetings.
Customization is robust on Webex Meetings. Among the choices available when setting up a meeting are attendee lists, a plan, a password, and more. It is worth noting bigger meetings will require features available in Cisco Webex Productivity Tools. You can download it from your Webex account if you are a paid customer to get this integration.
When setting up a meeting, the interface remains easy to use, with the standard controls accessible at the bottom of the screen. For example, you can mute/unmute your microphone, start/stop the video, and share your screen. A separate sub-menu hides further abilities such as multiple monitors, app selection, play media files, and document sharing.
Cisco Webex is a complete collaboration and communication platform that covers meetings, calling, messaging, whiteboarding, video conferencing, and more. We will dive into all the major Webex features, but first, we want to look at the Webex Meeting features and Webex calling features that we like the most.
General meeting features
We love the Webex integrated whiteboard. It is probably the best whiteboard outside of Microsoft’s stellar Whiteboard app. Either way, the Cisco whiteboard does some cool things like work across Apple iPads, allowing users to access the Apple Pencil for note-taking and diagrams in a meeting.
Call recording is an enterprise-level feature that many organizations will value. It is built into Webex Business, allowing you to record video meetings and calls. Cisco will send you an email telling you the video will be ready within 24 hours when you stop a recording. Of course, the longer the video is, the longer it will take to do within those 24 hours.
If you like to record most of your meetings, the 10GB of storage included in the Business price tier (our review package) will not cut it. However, you can upgrade for more storage, move your files to a cloud storage/file sharing service like OneDrive or Dropbox, or move to local storage.
While the core meeting tools are available on-screen, more administrative tasks are hidden behind a button. Here you will find more granular features such as the ability to lock meetings. This is a basic security feature that prevents any uninvited users from accessing the meeting. Behind the button, you can also invite more users or remind those already on the list.
As mentioned, the standard controls for meetings are visible during a call and allow you to control them on the screen. For example, you can see which users raise a hand for a question if you are an admin. If you participate in a meeting, this same button allows you to raise a hand. Some meetings are constantly muted for participants, such as presentations, so the raising a hand feature can be incredibly useful.
There is a mute/unmute option too, and we like one of the new Webex features that automatically mutes participants as they enter a meeting. This prevents them from interrupting if the meeting is already underway. It is worth noting admins can give individuals control over muting and unmuting themselves. While this is probably not wise for large meetings, it is a nice ability for smaller digital gatherings.
Cisco Webex excels at meetings, and this is obviously where the focus of the whole experience rests. However, beyond Webex events features, the platform also has chat and note-taking options. While we generally like these, they are not as good as rivals like Microsoft Teams or Slack.
Like with all video conferencing suites, Webex has an expandable chat panel that pops out to allow you to text chat with meeting participants. It is also standard to target a chat at an individual user, a group, or the whole meeting, so we are glad it is included here. What we don’t like is the lack of rich text support. Look, it is not a dealbreaker, but rival services do support rich text with gesture emojis and other perks.
Cisco Webex is surprisingly basic in terms of notes, almost like it is an after-thought thrown in because users demand a note-taking facility. Formatting options are average or plain awful and way behind the note-taking abilities rivals offer. On the other hand, it does seem Cisco has done this by design, perhaps preferring users to use integration for notes. Still, we feel the note-taking on Webex is verging on being pointless.
With the general meeting features taken care of, let’s take a look at the wider suite of features available on Cisco Webex:
- Calls: Make and recross platforms and devices through t across platforms and devices Cisco phone cloud system.
- Meetings: Full video conferencing tools with support for 1000 participants on Webex Meetings and 3000 participants on Webex Events.
- Messaging: Built-in messaging platform to keep in touch seamlessly in-between meetings without needing to leave the Webex system.
- Polling: Cisco Webex offers six different poll types with interactive Q&A sessions.
- Events: Cisco Events features include the ability to host full virtual events that achieve scalability and reach across an organization or customer base.
- Social: Develop hybrid events mixing virtual and in-person elements including ticketing, networking, multiple sessions, and more.
- Team connections: Collaborate across teams in and outside of meetings through whiteboarding and secure file sharing.
- Reach and scale: One of the biggest benefits of Cisco Webex is its ability to host large virtual events and meetings thanks to enterprise-grade features and higher participant numbers.
- Customization: Develop engaging meeting environments with tools like custom meeting layouts, backgrounds, breakout rooms, and more.
- Intelligent management: Cisco uses AI technology to help Webex handle meetings by removing background noises, taking notes automatically, and transcribing meetings.
- Inclusive participation: Webex is a truly global platform and promotes equality regardless of language and location.
- Integrated security: Cisco says security is woven through Webex and not simply added after. All members of a team and meeting are secure with privacy tools and data protection from Cisco’s enterprise-grade security.
- Embracing AI: AI is playing an increasingly crucial role in Cisco Webex, with intelligent solutions in messaging, meetings, note-taking, events, and more.
Pricing is just about the most frustrating part of the platform. Not only is this an expensive product, but Webex pricing is also confusing, especially for newcomers to enterprise software. Yet, they provide a free version.
We can forgive the high Cisco Webex price considering this is a complete business product. However, there is no doubt that this is more expensive than comparable products. It is worth noting there is a free version of Webex, and we will look at that in-depth later. Before that, let’s look at the available price plans.
Firstly, there are two individual plans where you can break up your Cisco Webex service based on your needs. This is an effective way to avoid paying for the full platform and getting features you may not use:
Call Plan($17 per user/per month)
The Call Plan is focused on calling features, giving customers a cloud-based phone number for every license. It also provides access to integrations, number extensions, and phone menus.
Meet Plan($15 per user/per month)
If you want Webex teams pricing, the Meet Plan is probably for you. It focuses on premium meeting features such as breakout rooms, virtual backgrounds, screen sharing, closed captions, and meeting recording, all in HD meetings for up to 200 participants.
Webex Suite Business($25 per user/per month)
If you need benefits from both the Meet Plan and the Call Plan, Cisco Webex bundles both together in the Business Suite. You will also save money, with this tier costing $25 per user each month. However, even with that slight discount, Webex is vastly more expensive than its main rivals.
Microsoft Teams is the obvious example. Because Teams is bundled into the Microsoft 365 productivity suite, it is a much sweeter deal. The full Microsoft 365 package with all Office apps is significantly more affordable than Webex at $12.50 per user/per month. Microsoft Office 365 E3 – the complete enterprise package with Teams built-in – costs $19.99 per user/per month.
Zoom is another standout rival that destroys Cisco Webex in terms of pricing. Even Zoom’s highest enterprise-grade price tier undercuts Webex and matches Microsoft Teams at $19.99 per user each month.
Remember, Webex Suite Business is just the standard business plan. If you want more enterprise-ready premium features like Webex events pricing, you must develop a custom plan. This becomes very expensive compared to rival video conferencing software. People may argue some tools make Cisco Webex worth it, but we cannot justify the cost of this platform when there are amazing alternatives at a fraction of the price.
Is Webex Free?
Luckily, there is some escape from the prohibitive cost of Cisco Webex with the free version of the platform. The free Webex version is solid and matches the quality of both Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
If you opt for the free version, you can access meetings with up to 100 participants, alongside screen sharing and meetings up to 50 minutes. Microsoft Teams also allows 100 participants in their free version but extends the meeting length to 60 minutes. Zoom matches the 100 participant limit on its free version, but only up to 40 minutes.
If you are an organization that needs to pool numerous services to work seamlessly, Webex is a desirable choice. Certainly, Cisco does better than its rivals like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. There are over 2000 Webex integrations compared to around 1800 on Zoom and just under 300 on Microsoft Teams.
Of course, Microsoft bundles many of its own products from the extensive and excellent Microsoft 365 productivity suite. Cisco Webex does not have that luxury so to expand productivity the platform must play nicely with other apps and services. Luckily, this is one area where Webex is the market leader.
However, integrations are only important if you need them. From those 2000+ integrations in Cisco Webex, the value of that number will depend on your needs. Still, with that many on offer, Webex teams integrations cover just about every major enterprise software you can think of. Slack, Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, Apple iOS, Android, Salesforce, Slack, and Zapier are just some of the major app integrations you get on Webex.
Before spending money on Webex, it is good to consider all your options. As companies increasingly pivot to remote work and digital meetings become valuable, the number of solutions providing video conferencing is on the rise. Services like AnyMeeting and GoToMeeting handle pure meeting tasks just as well as Webex, and at a fraction of the price.
Still, we think that the two main alternatives to Webex are Microsoft Teams and Zoom. These are the main competitors whether you want a paid software or a Webex free alternative. We will start by looking at Microsoft Teams and how it stacks up against Cisco’s platform.
You may argue comparing Teams with Webex is unfair considering Teams is built into the wider Microsoft 365 product. However, it is this integration that makes Microsoft Teams such a potent alternative to Webex. Microsoft Teams matches and often betters the conferencing features of Webex, and on top adds all Office apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Whiteboard, etc.) and best in class security.
Let’s not forget Microsoft 365/Microsoft Teams is also more affordable than Webex by quite a distance. In fact, the only area where Cisco Webex is clearly better than Teams is in terms of available integrations. Even then, we could argue Teams makes up for it by having access to Microsoft’s entire ecosystem, including integration in Windows 11 and Dynamics 365.
Zoom vs. Webex
Zoom is a more direct competitor to Webex because the feature set and focus of the platforms are mostly the same. Below we will cover the main points and compare both apps to see how they perform against each other:
- Pricing – Once again price is a big problem for Cisco Webex. Zoom is simply more affordable, with even the top tier of Zoom plans ($19.99 pu/pm) costing less than the standard Webex business tier ($26.95 pu/pm). Even though Cisco has significantly lowered the price of Webex, it still costs more than Zoom.
- Meeting Capacity – As major organizations turn to remote work, the ability to conference or hold events for a large number of participants is important. Cisco Webex does a solid job on its Business plan by allowing up to 200 people, but Zoom’s more affordable Enterprise tier supports over 1,000 participants. It is possible to extend the number of people in a meeting on Webex, but at an extra cost.
- Conference Tools – There is no separation Zoom and Webex in terms of meeting features. Each score wins over the other and both have interesting unique tools. For example, Zoom’s Break-Out Sessions which Webex has since included. While we don’t think 10GB of storage in Webex is a lot, it beats Zoom’s standard plans, which only have 1GB of storage.
If we consider all metrics, including usability and video quality, Zoom continues to be the superior conferencing service. Cisco Webex does a lot right, but it still lacks in some areas, not least with the price.
Webex Review Conclusions
That concludes our Webex Review, and you now probably have a good idea whether this is the video conferencing platform for you. There is plenty to like about Webex meetings and other features, and we think major enterprise customers will get a lot from the platform. However, for SMBs, the excessive cost of Webex and the fact alternatives like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are so good, means recommending Webex is hard.
We like this software, but it is just not the best video conferencing/meeting option out there.