Chris Kranky

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Atlassian: winning by doing

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

logoAtlassianPNGAtlassian is all about collaboration and has creep from it’s roots within the developer community into more mainstream business application. There are plenty of gushing articles about how great Atlassian is. Grass roots growth, a great work environment, socially responsible, a contributor to the ‘good’ of the Internet, no discounting and no sales force. A company you’d be proud to take home to mother.

Step back though and you see Atlassian building the Microsoft Office of Collaboration. Darth Vader must be concerned. A series of integrated products and services for increasing communications across the entirety of a business. At first glance, Atlassian speaks more to a developer community, but those glances can be deceiving. I attended their user conference in San Jose, CA this week. With over 2,000 attendees (double from the previous year)  the atmosphere was nearly electric and I had the chance to hear about their forthcoming products/services, but more importantly a chance to talk to their customers.

Illuminating was a side discussion with a large financial institute IT customer where I asked who internally was benefiting the most from the Atlassian offering. The answer was surprising – the CEO, who was using the Confluence, to watch, contribute and manage various team communications across the organization. Atlassian it would seem is no longer just for developers.

Suddenly, a sharper image emerged. As IT itself has become integral to nearly every business element, the traditional IT department is re-inventing themselves. Not just about desktop support, keeping servers spinning or resetting passwords but now into providing tools to help employees collaborate and share information.  An right in the middle of these shifting sands sits Atlassian.

No wonder financial analysts muse about Atlassian sporting a multi-billion market cap because this is easily a multi-billion market and one where Atlassian seems to have a leg up. Competing with everyone and no one at the same time and frightening numerous large established players across a wide swath.

Another tumbler may be ready to fall into place.

It was with surprise that in the midst of a major customer event that Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian wanted to talk to me and quite generous in his time. Mike, you see, knows quite a bit about WebRTC. His concern is that the current power  of WebRTC has not yet been fully tapped. Oh dear.

Atlassian’s HipChat, a real-time messaging app for groups utilizes WebRTC for it’s voice and video elements. But I got the distinct feeling this was just the beginning.

What Atlassian has done well is create a cohesive experience across all of their offerings, know one, you can probably use all of them (or at least not be totally lost). More importantly, data created in one application easily flows to the next to be used, digested and processed for that particular departmental need.

Voice & video are core elements of communication. It’s not hard to imagine Atlassian expanding the usage of WebRTC to enable the flow of real time communications across all applications and departments. This integration into the logic of how a business operates is highly disruptive to existing comm solutions be they old school telephone systems or what we thought were modern solutions like Skype or Microsoft Lync. In fact, stand alone information silos on many fronts are under threat as Atlassian weaves a complete end-to-end story together.

As previously I’ve written, the underpinnings of making WebRTC “work” are relatively easy (compared to the past), the real challenge is in adding an intelligence to this flow and this exactly where Atlassian seems to be applying their energy. Listen carefully, our menu options may be getting ready to change.