Work from Home Drives Teams to 44 Million Daily Active Users

Teams Powers Ahead Despite Service Glitches

Updated on April 3 with details of Teams usage at the UK National Health Service and usage data for Google Meet.

Anyone using Teams over the last few days has probably been aware that the service has experienced some reliability problems. Commentators felt that the problems were provoked by the upsurge in demand due to people moving to work from home because of the Convid-19 crisis, especially to use Teams audio and video meetings as a replacement for in-office gatherings.

That feeling was confirmed by data released by Microsoft on March 19. The number of Teams daily active users is now 44 million, a growth of 12 million over the last week (when many countries implemented large-scale restrictions), and an increase of 24 million since the last public figure released by Microsoft in November 2019. Microsoft defines an active user as someone who performs an intentional action in Teams over a 24-hour period. For instance, posting a new conversation, starting or replying to a personal chat, joining a meeting, or opening a document stored in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business from Teams.

The spike in growth is clearly seen in Figure 1, which charts growth from 13 million in July 2019 to 44 million today.

Growth in Teams Daily Active Users from July 2019 to March 2020
Figure 1: Growth in Teams Daily Active Users from July 2019 to March 2020

The UK National Health Service (NHS) is an example of how organizations quickly adopted Teams during the Covid-19 pandemic. After being given free licenses from Microsoft, the NHS web site reports that during the March 22-28 period, NHS employees used Teams for:

  • 973,072 private chats
  • 66,736 group chats
  • 76,173 private calls
  • 68,365 meetings

The site says that a peak of 28,148 NHS employees used Teams daily. Although the NHS is a huge organization with 1.4 million employees, it’s impressive that Teams usage ramped so quickly.

Lots of Teams Meetings

The impact of users participating in online Teams meetings is seen in the 900 million calling and meeting minutes consumed daily. Although massive, that’s only 20 or so minutes per active user, which indicates that this number is likely to increase as work from home takes more effect and people learn how to take full advantage of Teams.

On April 9, Microsoft said that Teams handled a new record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes on March 31, 2020. They also noted that the percentage of calls with video grew from 21% to 43% in the period March 2 to 31 (Figure 2) and that the number of Teams videos processed by Stream had increased five fold in the last month.

Growth in Teams Video meetings (source: Microsoft)
Figure 2: Growth in Teams Video meetings (source: Microsoft)

By comparison, on April 2, Javier Soltaro (head of G Suite), said that Google Meet serves 2 billion minutes of video calls daily. He noted that this equates to 3,800 years of meeting daily. Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco said that WebEx hosted 14 billion meeting minutes in March 2020, with a peak of 4.2 million meetings daily, a figure that had doubled since January. WebEx registered 324 million attendees in March. In the same period, Zoom claimed 200 million daily meeting participants, both paid and free.

It’s impossible to assess the usage of the various platforms because not enough detail is made available by any vendor to compare different aspects such as average length of meetings, the number of users involved in meetings, distribution between corporate and personal use, and so on. But it’s for certain that the numbers for online meetings are big and growing.

Large Organizations Use Teams

Interestingly, Microsoft hasn’t updated the number for how many organizations use Teams since March 2019, when it was 500,000. Instead, they focus on how large organizations use Teams, possibly to emphasize the enterprise credentials of the application. Microsoft says that 20 customers have more than 100,000 Teams users while the number with more than 10,000 users has grown from 150 to 650 (Figure 3). These data indicate that projects are moving from the kicking-the-tire phase to full deployment.

Microsoft's view of Teams success
Figure 3: Microsoft’s view of Teams success

Microsoft highlights companies like Ernst & Young, SAP, and Pfizer as organizations with more than 100,000 users, while Accenture retains its position as the world’s largest deployment at 440,000 users. 93 of the Fortune 100 use Teams. This number is up two from a year ago, so the question is who are the seven Fortune 100 companies not using Teams?

Remember that the limits for individual teams, personal chats, meetings, and live events are much smaller than 100,000, so Microsoft has some work to do to accommodate all the needs of very large organizations.

If you’re one of the new tenant administrators or architects who needs to work out how to deploy and manage Teams effectively, why not take out a subscription to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook? We have over 250 pages of Teams content in the book.

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