Microsoft Has Found its New ‘Excel’

In every accounting shop around the globe, there is likely one universal truth; some part of month-end close is performed in Excel. It may be a small (or large, depending on your operational efficiency) task but there is a consolidation of statements, reconciliations, or other sorts of processes that occur inside of Excel for nearly every company to close their books on a monthly and quarterly basis.

It’s the fact that Excel is nested deep inside the finance world that has made Office, ‘sticky’. Meaning, that no matter how the world changes with apps and updates, the one thing that remains constant for these shops is that Excel is the corner stone to productivity. Everything from custom macros to formulas and the always fun pivot tables do not translate well into other products; Excel is one of the few apps that silicon valley has yet to build a better solution.

But for Microsoft, they know that every year, new companies pop up that are trying to do just that, build a better excel. While the barrier to entry is high, it’s not insurmountable. It’s because of this that we have seen Microsoft throw everything it has at making Office 365 provide a wider array of solutions in hopes to find that new, ‘sticky’ service.

While it may have looked like ‘just another chat app’, Teams is the new Excel for Microsoft, or so they hope. And candidly, the early indicators are that Teams is the new app to beat in the collaboration segment.

In a recent report from Spiceworks, their survey, albeit somewhat limited in scope (n = 900), noted that when compared to competitors, it is expected to have a higher growth rate and by 2020, Teams adoption rate will double; the report and many outlets proudly trumpet that this is outpacing Slack by a wide margin.

Teams Cover HeroAnd it should, if Microsoft, who already has 155+ million commercial customers was not able to outpace Slack with Teams, Microsoft’s core business could be in jeopardy. It’s clear that Teams is a good app, Microsoft has built a new, and modern collaboration suite, and they should be commended here, but their barriers to adoption of Teams are much lower than just about every other chat service available today.

And that’s ok. Microsoft’s Office 365 suite is continuing to prove to be one of the best decisions Microsoft has made in the last decade and Teams is finally bringing the platform full circle. Primarily because the app is starting to find the right balance between chat and productivity and isn’t trying to be an ‘end-all’ solution for every type of task the modern organization undertakes.

While on-boarding of Teams does take some time, for those who have invested the effort to adjust to the workflow, customers satisfaction is quite high. With the customers that I talk to on a frequent basis, there is a tipping point where Slack becomes ‘another email inbox to maintain’ while Teams has more granular controls and settings that, when used correctly, avoid this notification overload.

The challenge Microsoft has today is trying to figure out how to work with small teams and startups. Many new companies are still spinning up G-Suite on day one and possibly Slack not long after but it’s clear that once you hit around 50 employees, the tools by Google and others begin to breakdown in functionality at scale. But, these companies are slowly figuring out ways to make large-scale deployments operate more smoothly but the time is ticking because as they work to scale up, Microsoft keeps adding more functionality to its productivity suite for no additional cost.

Teams for Microsoft, when deployed correctly, can have the same level of sticky-ness as Excel; the company has a home run in the makings and so far, it has taken the right steps to ensure its success.