By Jeffrey Schwartz
Microsoft Teams has surged past Slack in the growing chat-based communications and collaborations market, which the company sees as one of its largest new opportunities for channel partners. Teams is now in use by 13 million people each day, while more than 19 million use it at least once per week, Microsoft revealed Thursday.
At last count, Slack has 10 million paying customers of its competing offering, which remains popular among its user base. Microsoft announced the latest stats and its plans to add new communications capabilities to Teams such as priority notifications, read receipts and integration with contact management and compliance recording platforms.
Teams will be in the spotlight at the annual Inspire partner conference in Las Vegas next week. Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, underscored the potential of Teams in a virtual briefing.
“Microsoft Teams will create more opportunity than anything we’ve ever had in this productivity space,” Spataro said. “If you want to go in and help your customer transform the way they work started, with Teams there are quick wins, and then there’s follow-on business that allows you to become an important part of the way they do business.”
The surge of Microsoft Teams comes as rival Slack continues to draw attention following its last month’s IPO. Slack shares are currently trading below its IPO price of $38.50. Despite the popularity of Slack among its users, the fact that Teams is included with all Office 365 business editions and above has given Microsoft and edge.
A newly released Enterprise Technology Research report predicts Slack’s growth will decelerate significantly in the second half of this year, based on a survey of the spending intentions of 900 CIOs.
According to the ETR report, Slack’s net score for the second half of 2019 stands at 28 percent, a 45% decline compared with last year’s second half. Three months ago, Slack was showing a 26% year-over-year decline. Comparatively, Microsoft Teams is poised to increase 67% over the same period last year. Despite Slack’s loyal following of users who say it is a more innovative platform, Microsoft has the advantage that it’s available to business and enterprise Office 365 customers at no additional cost. Teams also is the focal point of Microsoft’s strategy to integrate communications and collaboration with its core platforms.
Besides the fact that Teams is included with Office 365, the fact that Microsoft is replacing the Skype for Business interface with Teams also gives it a boost. Indeed, partners are seeing increased interest in Teams. Avanade, an Accenture-Microsoft joint-venture partner, is among those that said clients are looking to deploy or expand their use of Teams. But most organizations are using just the base functionality of Teams today, said Cortez La Palme, an executive for Avanade’s digital advisory and innovation services group.
“What we see is that a lot of our clients have deployed version one of their Teams, where the deployment is really almost a straight replacement for Skype,” La Palme said. “We’re only seeing a small number of clients who have vision to do what Teams is really capable of, which is things like chatbots; it’s direct integration of platforms. But we are also hearing clients ask, ‘What’s the next step?’”
Some of the communications features coming to Teams are call recording with support for compliance recording partners ASC, NICE and Verint, which partners can add into Teams; and integration with contact-center platforms Five9, Genesys, NICE inContact and others.
Features coming to Teams that will start to appear shortly, include priority notifications, read receipts and the ability to moderate channels.