Teams Drives SharePoint Online Growth to 200 Million Active Users

Teams Now the Major Influence on SharePoint Growth

Three years ago, I wrote an article about how Office 365 Groups saved SharePoint. A lot has changed since, not least because Microsoft has just announced that SharePoint Online has 200 million monthly active users. But the biggest transformation is that it turned out that Teams is the real strength behind SharePoint.

Office 365 Groups (now Microsoft 365 Groups) set the standard of provisioning a SharePoint Online team site for every group. Although Outlook groups are still popular within the email community, the role of Groups is now focused on membership services and Teams has taken center stage for Microsoft 365 collaboration. Teams uses Groups for its membership management and provisions a SharePoint Online team site too. Private Teams channels get their own SharePoint team site to ensure that file access is restricted to the members of the private channel.

Teams and the Files Channel Tab

The difference between Groups and Teams is that Teams is designed to make heavier use of SharePoint. Out of the box, Teams includes the Files channel tab in every channel to support file sharing between users. Each channel in a team has its own folder in the document library of the SharePoint site, and another folder is dedicated to storing email posted to channels. The Files channel tab was originally much simpler than the standard SharePoint browser interface, but the gap is much closer now and Microsoft has sorted out issues like respecting custom views.

The Microsoft Lists application is integrated into Teams and we’re at the beginning of the transition to storing Teams meeting recordings in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Driven by the OneDrive team, sharing has become consistent and predictable across Microsoft 365. Users have bought into the idea of sharing links and cloud attachments, driving SharePoint usage even more, including in Teams channels and personal chats.

Correlating Teams Growth and SharePoint Growth

Teams is on a roll. Its 115 million daily active users represent roughly half the active Office 365 accounts. Driven by the demand for better functionality to support online working due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as Teams added people attracted by its strong online meeting features, SharePoint usage increased in step. Put simply, as Teams usage grows, SharePoint usage grows.

The theory is easily proved by examining user activity statistics. A strong correlation exists between people who are active in Teams and those active in SharePoint. Run the user activity script to extract and report usage data from the Microsoft Graph and you’ll see few examples of people active in Teams who aren’t active in SharePoint or OneDrive for Business.

Microsoft’s own data tells the same tale. At the Ignite 2019 conference, Microsoft said that SharePoint Online had 100 million active users. The growth in about 13 months is 100 million users. In November 2019, Microsoft said that Teams had 20 million daily active users. The latest figure is 115 million, a growth of 95 million over the same 13 months. A certain symmetry exists between the growth of the two workloads, even if we’re not quite comparing the same data (monthly active users versus daily active users).

More Growth to Come

85 million SharePoint Online users have yet to embrace Teams and more will move from the declining number still using SharePoint on-premises. The net is that Teams will help SharePoint Online power ahead while SharePoint will provide a rich source of user growth for Teams, if only because people often find Teams a more approachable UI than the standard SharePoint browser interface (which only its creators could love). Either way, the two workloads will progress together, which is good news for the folks working in Microsoft’s ODSP (OneDrive and SharePoint Platform) organization.


Keep abreast of news about Office 365 applications like Teams and SharePoint Online by subscribing to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. The monthly updates ensure you don’t miss important developments.

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