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Microsoft Teams vs Cisco Spark, Slack: The Battle Starts

Kirk Koenigsbauer

Microsoft, as expected, has launched Teams — an Office 365 chat-based workspace that potentially rivals Cisco Spark, Slack and other team messaging tools.

Teams is available to Office 365 business customers in 181 markets and 19 languages. The software is integrated with Office applications and provides users with a digital workspace built on four key tenets:

  • Chat: Offers threaded, persistent chat, along with team conversations that can be private or visible to an entire team. In addition, Teams users can access multiple teams and move between projects as needed.
  • Teamwork: Includes Excel, PowerPoint, Word and other Office applications to help foster collaboration.
  • Customization: Provides Teams users with the ability to customize workspaces with tabs, connectors and bots from third-party partners and Microsoft tools like Microsoft Planner and Visual Studio Team Services. 
  • Security: Features security and compliance capabilities and supports global standards such as SOC 1, SOC 2, EU Model Clauses, ISO27001 and HIPAA.

More than 150 Teams integrations are available or coming soon, Microsoft said in a prepared statement. Also, Microsoft intends to add features and capabilities to its team messaging tool.

“We are targeting to deliver guest access capabilities in June along with deeper integration with Outlook and a richer developer platform. Expect our pace to be rapid and responsive to customer needs,” Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team, wrote in a blog post.

Enterprise Office 365 Adoption Is on the Rise

Teams hopes to piggyback the growing popularity of Office 365. Indeed, Office 365 is exceedingly popular among enterprises, which is reflected in recent data from Skyhigh Networks.

The cloud security and enablement company’s “Office 365 Cloud Adoption and Risk Report” indicated 87 percent of enterprises (organizations with at least 100 employees) have adopted Microsoft cloud-based services, including:

  • Word.
  • Excel.
  • PowerPoint.
  • Exchange Online.
  • OneDrive.
  • SharePoint Online.

Teams and Office 365 may face an uphill battle in smaller businesses, where Skyhigh found that 93 percent of employees are still using Microsoft on-premise solutions. This indicates there is still a “massive opportunity” to transition all employees to Office 365, Skyhigh said in a prepared statement.

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