Microsoft Teams will be used by more people than Slack within the next two years, according to a recent Spiceworks survey. Although Teams hasn’t been released to the general public, the group chat software has been available to Office 365 Enterprise customers since it was announced in November 2016.
Slack and Teams are similar tools, but in our testing and comparison we found that Teams dramatically benefits from its direct connection to the Microsoft ecosystem. With a few button clicks, Teams users can access Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Meetings, Notes, Planner, SharePoint, and OneNote, among other applications. Users can collaborate remotely via the cloud within Teams to create, edit, or view any Microsoft application, a feature that isn’t available in Slack on any document platform (Google, Zoho, etc.).
WhoBot, another fantastic Teams feature missing from Slack, is built using Microsoft Graph artificial intelligence (AI) in order to provide immediate and automated answers to questions about employees and a company’s org chart.
The survey data forecasts Teams will generate the largest share of its customer base from companies with more than 500 employees, which is likely why the conversion will take up to two years, as larger enterprises are typically more deliberate in implementing software and hardware. Conversely, Slack will continue to dominate the small business category, particularly with companies that employ fewer than 100 workers.
It will be interesting to see how Microsoft adjusts its strategy to attract small companies that aren’t already invested in the Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem, and whether or not Slack can build out additional tools to help cope with the shortcomings we found when comparing the two systems.
It Pays to Be Last
Atlassian HipChat and the soon-to-be-released Workplace by Facebook were a distant third and fourth compared to Teams and Slack. Only 3 percent of companies had deployed or planned to deploy HipChat within the next two years, and only 1 percent had deployed or planned to deploy Workplace in the same time period.
Although respondents said they were more likely to use Teams in the future, Slack is the clear winner among respondents in terms of innovation. Five times as many respondents selected Slack as the most innovative chat application on the market. Slack also ranked near the top for reliability, cost-effectiveness, user-friendliness, and compatibility.
Once upon a time, Microsoft shared the same appreciation for the chat startup. Microsoft reportedly considered paying $8 billion to acquire Slack in early 2016. The acquisition was shot down by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, both of whom felt the money would be better invested turning Skype into something more along the lines of what Teams would ultimately become, according to reports.
As of late 2016, Slack had an estimated four million daily users, 1.25 million of whom pay for the software. Compared to the 85 million active Microsoft Office 365 users (at least some of whom will probably switch to Teams from Slack), Slack will have trouble keeping its customer base, never mind remaining the dominant player in the space.
Not willing to go down without a fight, Slack published a full-page ad in The New York Times the day Teams was announced. The ad claimed Slack would remain competitive even after the Teams release due to its innovation, third-party integrations, and top-notch customer service.
Data for the Spiceworks report was culled from interviews with 450 IT professionals of varying skillsets around the world. Slack did not immediately respond to a request for comment.