Microsoft's move into the team chat collaboration space may have been a wise one, suggests a new study from Spiceworks, an IT management specialist.
Spiceworks, which operates an online community of more than six million IT professionals, surveyed its customers about business chat application usage at their organizations. The results from 448 respondents actually bode well for Microsoft's latest collaboration offering.
Given that the company's answer to Slack, called Microsoft Teams, debuted in late 2016, adoption is currently low at just 3 percent. By comparison, Slack and Google Hangouts are being used by 13 percent and 16 percent of organizations, respectively.
Over the next couple of years, the tables may turn decidedly in Microsoft's favor.
The Spiceworks survey showed that 17 percent of organizations indicated that they expect to adopt Microsoft Teams over the next two years. If they stick to the plan, Microsoft Teams will surpass both Slack and Google Hangouts by the end of 2018, predicts Spiceworks.
Microsoft Teams features include tight connections with the Office 365 ecosystem, a factor that will help drive adoption, said Spiceworks IT analyst Peter Tsai.
"Microsoft Teams is poised to gain market share quickly because the collaboration tool is free to use for companies that subscribe to Office 365, which has a huge and still-growing user base," Tsai told eWEEK. "As an added bonus, Microsoft Teams promises to integrate seamlessly with familiar Office applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Skype and more."
The price is also right, noted Tsai. "While IT professionals recognize the benefits of Slack, including its innovative features, user-friendliness, and compatibility with other software, organizations looking to save money might favor Microsoft Teams, especially if they're already paying for Office 365."
Despite these gains, Microsoft is unlikely to unseat one of it's own collaboration products from it's current market position.
Skype for Business, another product in Microsoft vast application portfolio, currently supplies 36 percent of organizations with team chat services. The application is expected to pick up another 11 percent by 2018, remaining firmly in first place. HipChat from Atlassian and Facebook's Workplace offering both trail in the market with usage rates in the low single digits over the next two years.
In the meantime, Slack has gained a strong reputation for being innovative, user friendly and compatible with other applications, the study revealed. Skype for Business, formerly named Lync, leads in security, reliability and manageability, according to the survey, which is an unsurprising result considering its roots as an enterprise communications platform. Google Hangouts is considered the most cost effective.
All told, 42 percent of organizations use team chat applications to promote workplace collaboration. However, email remains the collaboration tool of choice, with usage rates of 98 percent across all types of businesses, Spiceworks discovered.
It's a state of affairs that's unlikely to change anytime soon. Relatively few IT professionals (25 percent) believe that chat applications will replace email within the next three to five years, despite their advantages in terms of cost and lower user support requirements, according to the Spiceworks survey.