Skype/Microsoft, Not Slack, Dominate Collaborative Chat
Lawrence Hecht

No survey is perfect, but I think I might have found some interesting stats in the blank spaces here…

What caught my eye in this graph are the missing percentages. Anywhere to a fifth to a third of the respondents aren’t represented in this graph, and none of them are greater than the associated total percentages of chat app use in each respective company size (the second set of bars in Figure 1 from the Spiceworks post). This leads me to believe that the percentages in this graph are based on the total respondents, including the ones that said they didn’t use chat apps at all.

If I’ve got these assumptions right, we can tease some more insights out of this data, like the following.

Chat use in large (500+) organizations:

  • Skype for Business (fka Lync) is nearly ubiquitous, with 94% using it.
  • However, almost two thirds of use in this category (62%) is across multiple apps (since the percentages for large enterprise add up to 86% — 33% more than the 53% that reported they used chat apps at all)
  • This doesn’t necessarily mean that 62% of chatty large org respondents are using two apps. It could mean that 31% are using three, and so on. If I were to guess, it’s probably mostly people using two, with a handful perhaps using more than that.
  • With the rest of the percentages adjusted, the findings are closer to what I would have expected.
  • 1 out of 4 that use chat are using Slack (though, note that it is entirely possible that 100% of those users also use Skype for Business, but it is impossible to tell without the raw survey data)
  • 1 out of 8 are using Microsoft Teams

Other insights we can pull from this outside of just the large org results:

  • 92% of medium org chat use is across multiple products, while only half of small org chat use is across more than one. That’s a LOT of variation, it doesn’t appear to correlate with org size, and I have no idea why. Again, raw data could tell us more, perhaps.
  • Unsurprisingly, Slack is most popular in small orgs, with 36% use there, versus about 26% for large and medium orgs.

There is also the question of choice versus mandate, which the survey didn’t appear to take into account. How many of these respondents are using a particular collaborative chat app because they chose to, and how many are forced to use a particular app because it is a ‘company standard’? Or perhaps they have to use a particular app simply because that’s where everyone else is? The problem with trends in social and collaborative apps is that they’re all useless if you are the only one using them — if you want to be able to collaborate and communicate effectively, you’re going to be forced to adopt what others are using.

In other words, my friends and family are the only reason I haven’t deleted my Facebook account.

Finally, I think the numbers above explain what happens when an organization disagrees on which chat app to use, or forces one that doesn’t meet everyone’s needs or isn’t well liked. The company ends up using multiple. Personally, I use Slack to talk to the dev team, Skype/Lync to talk to management, Signal to chat with my friends and some other coworkers, Google Hangouts for that person that uses a Chromebook and so on. If I’m being honest, I would have answered, “yes, we use Lync”, because it is a standard at my workplace. I don’t use it though — I gave up on it long ago. It crashed constantly, used too many resources and required me to manually reconnect every time I changed networks or brought my laptop out of sleep.

My conclusion here is that, perhaps Microsoft isn’t so much dominating as it is dictating, due to being bundled and integrated with Office. Otherwise, why would it make sense for Microsoft Teams to exist? Technically, Skype for Business is far superior from a feature comparison standpoint, but my gut (and personal) feeling is that most people hate using it with the same passion I do.

For the next survey, it might make sense to get some more emotional responses:

  • Which chat app do you PREFER to use?
  • Which chat apps are you required to use by your company?
  • Do you avoid using any particular chat apps, or only use them because they’re required?

Stuff like that.

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