The number of companies using Microsoft Teams is expected to nearly double in the next two years, new research has revealed.

Forty-one percent of IT professionals expect their employer to start using the collaboration tool by the end of 2020, up from 21% today.

Teams is free with Office 365 and includes group chat, web conferencing and chat features.

The study from Spiceworks, a professional network for the IT sector, found that Teams is now the second most popular business chat app, despite being launched less than two years ago. Skype for Business holds the top spot, with 44% of companies using that service – up from 36% in 2016.

“Real-time chat applications that work across multiple operating systems and devices are now ubiquitous,” Peter Tsai, Senior Technology Analyst at Spiceworks wrote in a blog post. “Some of these collaborative chat apps offer functionality that email can’t, including chat rooms, video conferencing, social features, and more.

“Overall, the use of collaborative chat apps has grown over the last couple of years, although at different rates. Skype for Business has maintained the lead overall, but we expect this to shift as it gets replaced by Teams. This will likely give Teams an even bigger lead over the next couple [of] years.”

Spiceworks found that 70% of large businesses are using collaborative chat apps, dropping to 61% for medium-sized companies and 58% for small firms; while more than half of IT professionals believe they are critical to their organisation’s success.

IT experts said they believed Teams was the most secure of all the collaborative chat apps, as well as being the most manageable and cost-effective.

You can more on the Spiceworks blog or at Microsoft News Centre UK.