No Jitter Research: 2017 Team Collaboration Survey

  • As Ovum analyst Brian Riggs so aptly pointed out in the 2017 edition of his popular "Email Killers" slideshow on No Jitter, team collaboration applications are "hot stuff in UC circles." Everybody wants in, from pure-plays like Slack and Atlassian to UC platform and service providers like Cisco, Microsoft, and RingCentral, and including big-name Web properties like Facebook and Google.

    At the root of their popularity is the idea that they can facilitate real-time communications and collaboration while creating an easy-to-navigate virtual repository for all conversations -- and collateral shared within -- that team members can cull through as they wish. Increased user productivity, improved business agility, and greater competitiveness are among the kitchen sink of benefits associated with team collaboration apps.

    With such hoopla around these apps -- known variously as team messaging, team chat, persistent team workspaces, and I could go on -- we had all sorts of questions we wanted to ask of our No Jitter audience about their interest in and use of these sorts of applications. And so we added team collaboration to our survey lineup for 2017, and conducted the inaugural "No Jitter Team Collaboration Survey" in May.

    In total, 422 members of the No Jitter enterprise audience responded to our survey. Click through this slideshow for a sampling of what we learned.

  • Proliferation Extraordinaire
    Among the 422 members of the No Jitter enterprise audience who responded to our survey, a whopping 77% of them indicated that users within their companies had tapped into one or more team collaboration apps. This percentage remains fairly consistent (76%) when looking at responses from large enterprises (more than 1,000 employees), but ratchets up to 82% for medium-sized companies (from 100 to 999 employees), and down to 57% for small companies (fewer than 100 employees). What's more, among the respondents at companies not yet using team collaboration apps, nearly 30% reported having the technology on their roadmaps.

    A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't seem to be of interest -- at least at this early stage of enterprise use. Nearly all respondents -- 85% -- estimated that at least two team collaboration apps were in use within their enterprises. And, most of those respondents (60%) selected "three or more" as the likely scenario within their enterprises.

  • Chatting It Up
    One of the benefits of team collaboration apps is their ability to support a variety of real-time communications modes, and to allow seamless movement from one to another. For example, you might be chatting with one team member but then decide you need to solicit some other opinions, too. In most team applications, all that requires is clicking on an audio or video call button, and selecting which other team members to include in the session.

    So which of the basic team collaboration functions get the greatest play? Perhaps not surprisingly, enterprises are first and foremost using team collaboration apps for messaging/chat (87% of all respondents), followed by document sharing (79%), video conferencing (72%), and audio conferencing (69%). Less popular, but still in use at one-third of respondent companies, is whiteboarding (32%). Substitute the overall response rate reflected in this graph with data particular to our three company size segments, and you'd essentially get mirror images. Percentages vary a bit, but the distribution remains consistent.

  • IT Influence
    Despite widespread reports of bottoms-up, viral usage of team collaboration apps such as Slack and Atlassian HipChat, our survey data shows that IT has inserted itself into the decision making at more companies than not. Here's a granular look at how the decision breaks down specifically within large enterprises:

    • 16% -- Individuals or teams have adopted apps of their own choosing; IT does not support these tools but allows their use
    • 9% -- Individuals or teams have adopted apps of their own choosing; IT does not support these tools and is disallowing or plans to disallow their use
    • 44% -- IT has a recommended team collaboration app, with associated adoption and support programs; IT allows use of other team collaboration apps but does not provide support for them
    • 31% -- IT has overseen app selection and user adoption, and is disallowing use of other tools, or plans to do so

  • IT Preference on Vendor Type
    Within large enterprises, incumbent communications providers operating in the UC and UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) spheres have a leg up over pure-play team collaboration app makers like Slack and Atlassian and Web plays like Facebook, as shown in the above graph. However, as company size scales down, that preference decreases; 52% of medium-sized companies report favoring UC/UCaaS providers and 40% of small companies do so. Likewise, the percentage of those indicating no preference increases as company size decreases, from 20% for large enterprises, to 27% for medium-sized companies and 34% for small businesses.

  • A Plethora of Choice
    Trying to keep track of all the various team collaboration apps available is enough to make your head spin. Still, we wanted to see which of these tools enterprises were gravitating toward. In our questionnaire, we listed out 13 options, as well as "Other." Among the various options, the five apps you see reflected above are in use at 10% of companies in at least one business segment. Across all company sizes, as you can see, Microsoft Teams tops the list, with Cisco Spark and Slack (but not Slack Enterprise Grid), the second most-used app, depending on company size. Others not shown above are now incorporated in the not-surprisingly sizable "Other" category, which includes Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow, BroadSoft Team-One, Genesys PureCloud Communicate, Mitel MiTeam, RingCentral Glip, Slack Enterprise Grid (distinct from Slack), Unify Circuit, Zang Spaces, and myriad other self-selected options.

  • Proliferation Across the Enterprise
    As you might expect, team collaboration app use often starts at the team level. However, our survey shows widespread use across the board. As you can see in the above left chart, 60% of respondents in large enterprises indicate that more than 1,000 employees engage with their team members on a daily basis via a team collaboration app. For many large enterprises, this figure represents a good chunk of the potential user base -- with more than one-third of respondents (36%) indicating that this figure accounts for at least 50% of the total potential user base, and another 27% indicating the figure represents 25% to 49% of all potential users (as shown in the above right chart). Meantime, 80% of these respondents said they expect team collaboration app usage to increase over the next 12 months.

  • From Freemium to Premium
    Depending on their team collaboration app provider, enterprises have a variety of licensing options available to them. Many providers offer freemium versions of their apps, as well as basic/standard pricing and more feature-rich and user-heavy premium editions. Or, if your entry point to team collaboration is via an existing product suite, such as for UC or office productivity, you'll likely find the additional capabilities provided as add-ons, often for no additional charge.

    No single type of licensing preferences jumps out at this juncture, as you can see in the charts above. Worth noting, but not surprising, is that freemium use is lowest among our large enterprise respondents. Given the preference our survey shows for use of team collaboration apps from existing UC/UCaaS providers (see slide 5), it follows that an add-on option nudges out other licensing options within companies of all sizes.

    As far as dollars spent monthly, about two-thirds of respondents (65%) of all company sizes said they estimate their enterprises are spending up to $24,999, in aggregate, across all users and apps to license, manage, and support team collaboration. Another 11% place the spending upwards of there, to $49,999.

  • Why You Buy What You Buy
    No matter the enterprise size, our survey results show the same general factors, integrations, and security requirements influencing purchase decisions, if not necessarily in that exact order. And, far and away, the top motivating factor for forging ahead with team collaboration applications is improved employee productivity. More than 70% of respondents of all company sizes -- and as high 84% of small company respondents -- selected the productivity boost as the chief benefit of using team collaboration apps.

  • Proof in the Pudding
    Team collaboration applications are apparently proving their worth within companies of all sizes, with nearly three-quarters of survey respondents saying the benefits of these tools are either underestimated (29%) or clearly identifiable (44%). Worth noting is 17% of respondents indicated that as far as the promise of team collaboration apps is concerned, it's still too soon to tell.

What do enterprise IT professionals think about team collaboration apps? Jump inside to find out!