The State Of Workplace Messaging 2023: Microsoft Teams, Webex, & More
The workplace messaging environment has changed 100 times over since we launched the first version of Mio (then Message.io).
What looked like an emerging industry set to be dominated by Slack, Atlassian Stride, and Skype for Business now looks completely different.
In 2019, we created the Workplace Messaging Report, interviewing 200+ IT admins to get their take on workplace messaging app usage.
While this data proved correct for a moment in time, nobody could predict the explosion of video conferencing and its associated collaboration and messaging capabilities.
In this version of the Workplace Messaging Report, we drill into facts and figures available in the public domain and provided independently by each collaboration leader.
One instant learning is that workplace messaging is no longer a category. It is a subset of collaboration apps as a whole.
For each vendor, we highlight their current state and predict the future state.
It would be unwise to start any look back or forward without Zoom at the forefront.
During 2020 and 2021, Eric Yuan’s Zoom became a household name. Now established as a leader in video, meetings, and phone, Zoom has become an all-around collaboration solution.
At the beginning of 2021, Zoom announced it had sold over one million Zoom Phone seats—its proprietary UCaaS solution. At Zoomtopia in September 2021, the two-millionth seat was announced.
Video conferencing usage remained high throughout 2021, despite vaccination rates at an all-time high. A sure sign that Zoom is not a pandemic play but a solution for the future.
In fact, half a million businesses choose Zoom. This includes over half of the Fortune 500.
Outside of core use, Zoom also announced its $100 million Zoom Apps Fund. To compete with platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, this will be a key area of focus in the future.
Likewise, Zoom Events and Zoom Rooms have received considerable engineering support and launch efforts to compete with Webex and online native event platforms.
The infographic below depicts the monumental growth Zoom has experienced through 2020 and 2021.
The future of Zoom?
Zoom has already signaled its intent to enter the contact center market with a failed acquisition of Five9. But, the willingness to spend $15 billion is a clear sign of future growth for the collaboration leader.
Alaa Saayed, ICT Industry Director at Frost and Sullivan, also points out a huge segment of the market mostly untapped by vendors at the moment.
“Zoom must extend its experience to non-knowledge workers. We are talking about a potential market of 2.1 billion workers that also needs to be connected.”
With the likelihood of Zoom’s user base increasing for video and phone, the adoption of Zoom Team Chat is a safe assumption. While the obvious choice would be to displace an existing app, reality is that there needs to be a period of coexistence.
For example, businesses using Webex devices to facilitate in-office meetings may have instances of Zoom where home workers adopted an app of their own choosing.
Rather than forcing users back to the office to use Webex only, businesses can embrace message interoperability between Zoom Team Chat and other apps so the messaging components of both apps can be utilized.
It is this trend, alongside further general Zoom growth, that businesses must plan for in future.
Microsoft switched from reporting daily active users (DAU) to monthly active users in 2021. Some speculators will suggest that this is to create false progress of Microsoft Teams’ growing usage.
Take nothing away from Microsoft, every Microsoft Teams statistic is impressive. And both the daily and monthly active users counts are mind-boggling when you consider it only launched in 2017.
Microsoft Teams statistics
As of October 2021, Microsoft Teams usage stats sit 145 million daily active users.
Microsoft also reports a total of 280 million “active monthly users”. These could be contractors or part-time staff who do not use Teams every working day.
After coming under fire for reporting an inflated number, Microsoft 365 Corporate VP, Jared Spataro, confirmed the definition of daily active users as:
“The maximum daily users performing an intentional action in the last 28-day period across the desktop client, mobile client, and web client.”
Intentional actions include starting a chat, placing a call, sharing a file, editing a document, and participating in a meeting. Microsoft says it does not include auto-start or closing the app.
Of these daily or monthly active users, these are made up of over 500,000 organizations. This figure comes from the number of Microsoft Teams tenants in existence. Microsoft has not clarified whether this includes organizations with several tenants or test environments.
Perhaps most impressively, Microsoft Teams is used in 91 of the Fortune 100 companies.
The future of Microsoft Teams?
With such a high number of Teams users reported, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking Microsoft Teams growth has reached its peak.
But data from Metrigy suggests there is opportunity within organizations that have already rolled out Teams.
Irwin Lazar, President and Principal Analyst at Metrigy points out:
“Those using Teams have deployed it to an average of 61% of employees, rising to 69% by year’s end.”
Another data point from the Metrigy study highlights that of those using or planning to deploy Teams, 72% are using (or will use) Teams in multi-vendor environments.
So the future of Microsoft Teams looks like more growth plus the need for interoperability.
Slack vs Microsoft Teams remains a key battle
Despite the growth of Zoom during the pandemic, Microsoft has more than the native video conferencing players to keep an eye on.
They say to choose your battles wisely and Slack seems to have earmarked Microsoft Teams as its main competition.
Microsoft added Slack to its list of “official competitors” back in 2018 and it seems to have fuelled the fire.
While there hasn’t been an official update on the number of Slack users, in 2020, Slack filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft. In October 2021, it was confirmed that the European Commission is formally investigating the claim.
Specifically, Slack is asking “if bundled products give companies access to data that could increase their market power and make it harder for rivals to compete”.
While we don’t know what the outcome of the complaint will be, it seems certain that the famous Slack vs Microsoft Teams battle seems like it will continue.
Slack and Teams have been trading blows since that famous New York Times article in 2017. The infographic below highlights some key punches pulled since the launch of both platforms.
2021 has been a busy year for Slack. Since Salesforce acquired Slack in July 2021, we haven’t seen as frequent growth stats as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Should this be cause for concern?
We think not.
The Slack growth model has changed following its acceptance into the Salesforce family. And the strategy is likely still evolving.
The last user count we have from Slack is 12 million daily active users. But we haven’t had a public update in over a year. In March 2020, we heard Slack had 12.5 million simultaneous users.
We also know that 43% of Fortune 100 businesses pay to use Slack. As of March 2021, Slack confirmed it has 156,000 paying customers.
Salesforce, on the other hand, boasts 150,000 customers. While the user count isn’t publicized, Salesforce is typically viewed as a CRM for large businesses. It’s a safe assumption that Slack expansion into those businesses will be high on the agenda.
That said, what happens when these Salesforce customers already have an existing platform like Teams or Webex?
Messaging-specific Slack milestones
As primarily a messaging app, you may not be surprised to hear that a billion messages are sent each week on Slack.
While few collaboration providers provide stats like these, it sure is a nice number to set a benchmark.
Another unique stat provided by Slack is 5+ billion actions are taken every week in Slack. A not-so-subtle poke at Teams’ daily active user reporting.
At Slack Frontiers in November 2021, Slack also announced it averages 300,000 messages sent per second.
The future of Slack?
The future of Slack may depend on Salesforce’s growth strategy for the app. But you can be sure Salesforce hasn’t acquired Slack to sunset it.
Dave Michels, Enterprise Communications Analyst and Founder of TalkingPointz, isn’t expecting Slack to publish any numbers next year. Despite this, he does expect definite growth:
“Slack should see accelerated growth next year as the Salesforce faithful will be exploring it.”
Webex launched a new brand and a new app in 2021. We’ve also seen both the Cisco and Webex brands a lot more in mainstream media in 2021.
It’s one thing to revamp an app but did it result in sales and adoption?
The last public stats shared by Webex show the following:
- 39 million cloud calling users
- 650 million monthly participants in Webex meetings
- 36,000 enterprises using Webex within their business
According to Synergy Research, Cisco remains a leader of collaboration devices too.
In video device share, Cisco handles over 30% of the market. In IP phones worldwide, Cisco boasts an even more impressive 47.3% of the market.
The future of Webex?
Abhay Kulkarni, SVP, GM, Webex App, says the future of Webex is hybrid work:
“There will be intense innovation to solve real hybrid working problems. We must make sure that we power the full collaboration experience no matter where people are. They may be an introvert or an extrovert. They may have disabilities or special requirements. We need to make sure we continue to develop features to enable everyone to work.”
Webex user growth is not as heavily reported in the media. There is no daily active user count like Microsoft reports on a regular basis. But we do know that Webex has 39 million cloud calling users and 650 million monthly meeting participants. Regardless of what else isn’t reported, these are impressive numbers.
Having undergone a few identity changes in the last year, Google Chat is now available as part of Google Workspace.
When trying to work out the state of Google Chat, but, this doesn’t make things any easier. There are few statistics relating directly to collaboration and messaging.
Google Chat statistics
Separating Google Chat from the rest of Google Workspace would be challenging for any firm to do. It’s been challenging enough for Google to streamline each of its products into its own categories.
What we do know is that there are over one billion active users of Google Drive and over 1.5 billion users of Gmail.
More collaboration-focused, Google Hangouts/Google Meet has over 250,000 daily active users.
One blog post in June also cited that Workspace has three billion users. This is by far the largest number reported in this report. But, as mentioned, we don’t know how these are defined and how many are actually using meetings or messaging.
The future of Google Chat?
As Google works out where chat fits into its collaboration strategy, it seems like planned adoption of Google Chat will stem from Gmail and the tools already in use by Google users.
By providing an asynchronous messaging option in meeting and email tools, it gives users an alternative to time-consuming tasks like scheduling meetings and writing long emails to get simple answers.
Analysts like Tim Banting, Practice Leader for Enterprise Communications at Omdia, suggests further integration is needed by Google.
Tim says there is a clear difference in the market:” Google is using Gmail as a central hub for collaboration and Microsoft is using Teams as a central hub for collaboration.”
“Email is the start of a workflow for most users. Too many of the features and functions are disjointed and not conducive to a good user experience.”
Tim says if Google sold a SKU that was just email and collaboration, it would do well. Unfortunately, it’s that content creation piece that customers aren’t buying yet.
Workplace from Meta
Note: Workplace from Facebook is now Workplace from Meta (following the Facebook name change to Meta).
The growth strategy at Workplace from Meta has always been to target the Fortune500.
With a sales team focused on rolling out to thousands and thousands of users at a time, it’s no surprise the seat count has skyrocketed.
Workplace from Meta statistics
In May 2021, Workplace from Meta announced it has seven million daily active users that pay for its service. This is up two million from the same time from 2020.
Data also suggests that there are at least 31,551 different companies that use Workplace from Meta.
The revenue figures specifically for Workplace by Meta are something of an unknown. Facebook doesn’t classify its business collaboration app as a unique entity on its earnings report.
What we can see is that a section called “Other” makes up for 2.8% of Facebook’s total revenue. How much of that 2.8% is via Workplace from Meta we can only speculate.
The future of Workplace from Meta?
As the Facebook team continues to suggest, “even your mom could use it” remains true. While the first iteration of Workplace was almost a copy and paste of the consumer platform, it added more business functionality in 2021 without compromising on user experience.
While “your mom” may not be the direct target audience for collaboration apps, it does ensure adoption from day one for almost any new user.
The team at Workplace is doing its best to make clear that Workplace and Facebook are different apps and don’t share data, security concerns, etc. But the bad press surrounding Facebook may impact further sales and adoption in 2023.
Workplace is also the only platform in this list not embracing interoperability in the business arena. Lack of ability to play with others means displacing existing solutions will be tricky.
What is the best workplace messaging app?
It’s the question on a lot of people’s lips. Industry analysts would love there to be a clear leader so they could make comparisons. Customers would love procurements to become easy because one app is better than the other.
In reality, there is no “best workplace messaging app” but we can provide analysis based on the data available and our experiences with each platform.
If you’ve entered collaboration via Zoom
And are new to working from home, Zoom has worked hard to provide a complete chat, phone, and meetings platform. So, it makes sense to keep things under one roof. But, the likelihood is that you already have an instance of Slack or another platform in your business. Zoom recognizes this and has a strong interoperability focus.
If you’re a Microsoft house
Teams remains the go-to platform. It is simply unrivaled when it comes to integrating with other Microsoft products. There are also 600+ Microsoft Teams integrations for third-party apps.
If you’re a messaging-first business
Then you’ll look at Slack, naturally. As pioneers of asynchronous messaging, it’s hard to look outside the box if messaging is your main form of communication. There are also 2,000+ Slack integrations including apps like Teams, Zoom, etc so you can bolt on video platforms with ease.
If your meeting rooms are full of Cisco equipment
You will still get the best experience using Webex as your collaboration platform—both in-office and at home thanks to the Webex devices range. Cisco also describes its platform as open and interoperable. So home users without Cisco equipment and those who prefer other apps can join in conversations from their platform of choice.
If you’re a G-suite user
This is a tricky one. The time it has taken Google to integrate its chat, meetings, email, and productivity apps means you could quite easily be a Gmail and Google Hangouts user but installed Slack as your messaging app many years ago. While you could take the plunge and go all-in on Google, you’d be upsetting your Slack fans.
If you trust Facebook
Or have users who will struggle with adopting a new interface, then Workplace from Meta is ideal. But its lack of interoperability with other platforms means any existing collaboration software becomes unusable—or creates workplace silos where some people are using one app and others using another.
The pandemic has altered the state of workplace collaboration for all these vendors and all its users. Growth that might have taken a decade has been achieved within the space of 18 months.
Does this mean workplace messaging apps will continue to grow? In all likelihood, yes.
What’s more, the number of apps (not just collaboration apps) will continue to grow within businesses. This makes integration and interoperability more important than any stage prior.
There remains no winner in the “best collaboration app” category—though it’s hard to ignore publicized usage figures.
Choose the one best suited to your business. Integrate wherever needed.