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Google Hangouts Chat team collaboration app released

Google is continuing to aggressively target the enterprise market with its release of Hangouts Chat. The team collaboration app will compete with Slack, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Spark.

Google has added the team collaboration application it previewed last year to its cloud-based G Suite. Hangouts Chat should help the search giant better compete with Microsoft for a larger share of the enterprise market.

Google Hangouts Chat was announced in early 2017, but the product was only available in beta until Wednesday, when the company began making it available to G Suite subscribers at no additional cost.

With support for 28 languages and up to 8,000 members per room, Hangouts Chat offers features similar to Microsoft Teams, Cisco Spark and Slack. Google's platform has the advantage of native integration with G Suite's other cloud applications, including Docs, Sheets, Slides and Hangouts Meet, a web conferencing platform.

Google is the latest consumer tech giant to enter the enterprise collaboration market. Facebook says more than 30,000 organizations are now using its team collaboration app, Workplace by Facebook, while Amazon has launched its cloud app for messaging and meetings, Amazon Chime.

"Everyone is trying to offer an integrated, comprehensive workplace application. It's very clear the market -- maybe not has, but is -- moving away from the conventional telephony-centric collaboration environment," said Jon Arnold, principal of Toronto-based research and analysis firm J Arnold & Associates.

Bots, third-party apps strengthen Google Hangouts Chat

Google Hangouts Chat comes pre-equipped with 25 workflow bots and an API platform that will enable developers to build additional integrations.

The @Drive bot keeps team members abreast about changes to shared files, while the @Meet bot schedules team meetings on command based on its access to everyone's Google Calendar. Also, Google says nearly two dozen vendors have already built bots for Hangouts Chat.

The list of third-party integrations includes RingCentral, UberConference, Vonage and Dialpad for communications; Xero for accounting; Disco, Polly and Zenefits for HR; Salesforce for customer relations management; and Jira and Trello for project management.

The ability to integrate with business apps is becoming a must-have feature in an increasingly crowded team collaboration app market. Strong bot and search features helped fuel the rise of Slack.

"This just shows you how disruptive Slack has been," Arnold said of Google's release of Hangouts Chat, "just the way that every big vendor has dropped everything and built new platforms around [team collaboration]."

Google continues investments in enterprise market

The release of Google Hangouts Chat brings G Suite more on par with Microsoft's combination of Office 365 and Teams. Unify Circuit, Atlassian Stride and Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow are among Google's other competitors in the team collaboration app market.

With millennials projected to constitute 75 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2025, Google should benefit from the younger generation's familiarity with Gmail, Hangouts and its other cloud platforms, said Alaa Saayed, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan, based in San Antonio.

"Google has a good chance of taking a noticeable piece of a market that will be growing at a compound annual growth rate of not less than 38.4% in terms of net-new seats from 2016 to 2021," Saayed said of the team collaboration app market.

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