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Microsoft Teams usage growth surpasses Zoom

Aternity’s latest Productivity Tracker sees Microsoft fight back against conferencing tool that has enjoyed stellar growth since the Covid-19 lockdowns began

The videoconference industry has prospered more than any during the global coronavirus lockdowns, and Zoom in particular, but a number of corporate mistakes and mishaps have contributed to Zoom losing its leadership in the market to the benefit of Microsoft Teams, according to research from digital experience management company Aternity.

The findings appear in the latest instalment of Aternity’s Productivity Tracker series, which examines data directly from employee endpoints to see what apps they are using during the workday.

Aternity said its data showed that the shift to remote working was creating growing collaboration application sprawl, as individual employees used multiple tools to serve similar needs. These ranged from ad-hoc one-on-one “virtual water cooler” chats to internal team meetings to larger group brainstorms and working meetings with business partners.

The data also showed that employees preferred direct audio communications in informal settings, while relying on videoconferencing when collaborating.

The study found that remote workers were using collaboration tools predominantly for direct, one-on-one interaction. For example, direct audio and video calls via Skype accounted for 97% of all interaction for a one-week period in mid-June. Microsoft Office accounted for 38% of total application usage time, with Outlook usage growing by 46% between 17 February and 14 June. The highest share of usage came from Outlook.

Mis-steps such as issues with Zoom’s recent end-to-end encryption contributed to Microsoft Teams catching up with the previously flying Zoom which, while growing the fastest in the first month of the surge in remote work, by the week beginning 4 May was caught and subsequently passed by Teams.

As of 14 June, use of Microsoft Teams grew by 894% compared with its base usage during the week of 17 February. In the same period, Zoom use grew by 677%. The survey suggested Teams’ growth was likely to stem from Microsoft’s aggressive Office 365 adoption push during this period, as well as organisations’ growing concerns about Zoom security.

The growth in usage share of Microsoft Teams also came at the expense of Skype for Business. Between 17 February and 14 June, Skype for Business’ usage share slipped from 76% to 45%, while Teams’ usage share grew from 11% to 34%. Aternity said this showed that Microsoft-heavy enterprises migrated from Skype for Business because of Teams’ richer set of collaboration capabilities.

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Based on this trend, the analyst said it expected Microsoft Teams to overtake Skype for Business in usage share within the next six to eight weeks. Yet it stressed that the simultaneous decrease in Skype and increase in Teams use was not a one-for-one swap. A portion of the decline in Skype usage share resulted from increased usage share of Zoom (+3.49%), WebEx (+3.49%) and Slack (+1.08%), further illustrating growing collaboration app sprawl within enterprises.

Another interesting finding was that the growth of Zoom has not occurred in the largest enterprises. This, suggested Aternity, was probably due to the fact that enterprises are slow to move to new web conferencing and synchronous collaboration tools, especially within Microsoft-heavy enterprises.

The research also found that a lot of non-work-related web browsing surged in late February when the Covid-19 outbreak started, growing by 150% between 17 February and 12 April. Non-work-related web browsing dropped significantly in late April as employees better understood the implications of the pandemic on their daily lives.

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