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Slack and Zoom Increasing in Popularity With Office 365-Subscribed Organizations

What happened?

A new report by cloud security vendor Okta found that both Slack and Zoom are increasing in popularity with organizations who have Office 365 licenses. This is despite these organizations having access to Microsoft Teams through their license at no additional cost.

The report surveyed Okta’s customers, which total over 100 million people and includes some of the world’s largest enterprises.

Office 365-subscribed organizations using Slack increased from 28.1% to 31.2% between October 2018 and June 2019.

Source: SoftwareReviews Slack Scorecard. Accessed August 23, 2019

In the same period, Office 365-subscribed organizations using Zoom increased from 23.7% to 29.6%.

Source: SoftwareReviews Zoom Scorecard. Accessed August 23, 2019

Our Take

Okta’s report is interesting because Microsoft Teams offers the same core features as Slack and Zoom. Why would organizations choose to purchase other licenses (such as with Slack and Zoom) when these features are available as part of their Office 365 license?

Some further confusion: Nemertes Research has found that 42% of organizations support at least two types of collaboration apps, with the majority reporting that they planned to keep it that way. How do we make sense of all this?

First, maintaining two collaboration tools that have the same features only makes strategic and financial sense if these tools have a well-defined domain of use. The problem comes when these tools overlap unjustifiably and information becomes uncoordinated. In these circumstances, the organization should consider phasing-out one of these tools: productivity decreases when employees have to constantly switch tools and aren’t clear on what tool serves what purpose.

Second, it can be difficult to move against employees who adopt their own “best of breed” tool. Indeed, there is a generational issue here: millennials are 1.5 times more likely to use unapproved collaboration tools within the workspace. Indeed, Slack ranked as the second-best productivity tool by millennial managers, which may explain the tool’s popularity. End users may be adopting unapproved tools, making it difficult for IT teams to keep up. This creates a security problem: uncoordinated information can be difficult to track and monitor.

Office 365-subscribed organizations may want to rethink these extra purchases. Keeping information and collaboration coordinated within the same ecosystem streamlines an organization’s collaboration tools. If Teams has the same core features as Slack and Zoom, organizations should ask what marginal value they are getting out of these extra licenses. Better onboard training with Office 365 productivity suite can counter employees’ tendencies to choose their own tools.


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