A new survey on business chat apps from information technology network tools provider Spiceworks Inc. reckons the number of Microsoft Teams users will surpass that of Slack within just two years.
Considering Teams has been available to Office 365 Enterprise customers only since November, that would be no mean feat. Spiceworks’ survey found that Microsoft’s Skype for Business is currently the most widely used collaborative chat application, deployed by 36 percent of businesses. Google’s Hangouts comes in second at 16 percent, while Slack is used by 13 percent of organizations.
By contrast, just 3 percent of businesses surveyed said they were using Microsoft Teams. However, 17 percent do have plans to deploy Teams within the next two years, while Hangouts’ and Slack’s market share are expected to rise only to 19 and 17 percent, respectively.
“If these plans hold true, Microsoft Teams will be the second most commonly used messaging platform in the workplace by the end of 2018, surpassing Slack and Google Hangouts, and coming in behind only Skype for Business,” the report notes. “This bodes well for Microsoft, which owns Skype, and could speak to the fact that Microsoft Teams is free to use for companies that subscribe to Office 365.”
Meanwhile, there could be disappointment in store for social media giant Facebook Inc., which has its own plans to crash the business chat app gates with Workplace by Facebook. But Spiceworks’ survey found that Facebook’s offering is currently being used by less than 1 percent of businesses, and said that’s unlikely to increase any time soon.
General availability for Microsoft Teams is scheduled for the first quarter of this year, when it will be made free as part of the Office 365 subscription service.
Skype for Business is the most popular chat app for large organizations, the survey found. Almost half of companies with more than 500 employees use the app, compared with 38 percent of companies in the 100- to 500-employee range and 28 percent of smaller firms. Skype for Business’s popularity is thanks to the strong reputation of the original Skype app as well as its security, with IT personnel giving it the highest rating in this department.
As for Slack, usage of the app doesn’t vary that much based on company size, with 14 percent usage at large enterprises, 10 percent at medium-sized organizations and 15 percent at smaller firms. Where Slack does stand out, however, is in innovation, user-friendliness and compatibility with other apps, the survey found.
Spiceworks said that chat applications have become an essential tool in an age where increasing numbers of employees telecommute or work flexible hours, and where workforces are increasingly spread across the globe. Keeping this in mind, it’s not surprising that Microsoft is keen to make an impression in the market. Microsoft’s core business has always been about providing workplace productivity tools, and chat apps are just another tool in the box.