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Highlights from Atlassian Summit 2016

walter.buggenhoutwalter.buggenhout

First some key figures: Atlassian Summit

Autumn. That time of the year when leaves are starting to take on beautiful colors, days are getting shorter and people slowly start to become somewhat melancholic. For each and everyone following Atlassian, it’s the time for Atlassian Summit. Atlassian staff, Partners, Customers and aficionados all gathered in San Jose last week to talk, listen and learn. It was an honor for me to be part of the event and a pleasure to share the news firsthand.

Atlassian Summit 2016

A yearly gathering of a Community is usually a time to share some key figures. Below are a few important figures demonstrating how Atlassian and its Community are doing great:

Atlassian summit key figures

This year’s Atlassian Summit was the biggest event in Atlassian’s history. Over 3.000 people from all over the world were offered 75 different presentations, spread across 7 different tracks. Speakers were Atlassian staff, but also customers and partners who had been carefully selected from no less than 400 submissions. 350 Atlassian employees were present to talk, but also – and more importantly – to listen to people.

Product news

Atlassian has a habit of communicating a lot throughout the year. The weeks before the Atlassian Summit, things usually get a bit more quiet, but at and after Summit a lot of news is released into the world. And as always, some cool stuff to look forward to was announced across all Atlassian products.

JIRA Software

Being Atlassian’s flagship for a long time, stating that JIRA Software is a fairly mature product would be an eligible candidate for “understatement of the year”. Nonetheless, the team is still continuously improving where it can. A new feature that has been prepared as a labs feature on Cloud in 2016 is Kanplan. It unlocks the possibility to plan and prioritize issues on Kanban boards. Teams working in a continuous process will definitely get a better focus on current work and be able to add new tasks progressively. A small, but very valuable improvement is that fields like Component, FixVersion and Assignee will become editable inline in the same Backlog view of Scrum and Kanban Boards. And Atlassian is currently redesigning the look and feel of the cards on Agile Boards.

2016 has been the year in which Portfolio for JIRA had a complete makeover. Creating a new Portfolio plan takes under a minute if you want and a whole new and tight integration with JIRA Software has been realized. An important side effect is that the Team concept is now being added into JIRA Software as well. This concept will gain importance across the Atlassian platform in the near future.

Confluence

Everything in Confluence starts with a page. Atlassian announced that no less than 100 million pages have been published in Confluence by now. The biggest change is definitely Collaborative Editing, which will be included in Confluence 6.0. With this long promised feature, content collaboration in Confluence reaches a whole new level. You will actually be able to see who’s working on the same page with you and where they are actually making changes as they type. Merge Conflicts will no longer occur, as everybody will be working on the same page.

Atlassian Summit - Confluence mobile for Confluence cloud

JIRA Service Desk

The story of JIRA Service Desk is amazing. Only 2 years after its initial launch, the product is being used by 20.000 IT and Service teams across the world. Its ease of use and fast setup are key factors in its success. As it’s a young product, there is still room for improvement, but Atlassian keeps closing important gaps. The main feature released lately is the ability for customers to share tickets with their organization. This organization is a new concept that will progressively allow searching and grouping for tickets in a business context, rather than at an individual level.

From the beginning onwards, Atlassian has been investing heavily into customer Self Service. Integrating Confluence as a knowledge base has proven to reduce the number of tickets by 45%. That leads to support agents being able to focus a lot more on investigating problems. Finding solutions becomes a lot more effective than when their attention is divided between answering phone calls, sharing status updates and talking to upset customers. About the latter, Atlassian has also acquired StatusPage in 2016. By already integrating the product with JIRA Service Desk, status notifications and updates can be shared on the Service Desk portal. Thus, information on incidents can and will be shared more efficiently with users even before they have started creating another ticket for a known issue.

Finally, the knowledge base is now integrating into the Service Desk tickets themselves, providing guidance for agents on relevant knowledge base articles. So they can rely on the system’s intelligence to find the answer to a recurring problem really quickly too. It will even be possible for agents to add an existing knowledge base article as an answer to the customer in a simple click.

HipChat

It has taken the HipChat team about 3 years to reach a total of 1 billion exchanged messages. Though these might seem impressive numbers, HipChat is now broadcasting 1 billion messages in 7 days. The expectation is to reach these numbers on a daily basis in the very near future. One of the most important new features released recently is group video chat and screen sharing, which works brilliantly for remote teams. Great integrations keep being added on a daily basis through the Connect framework.

Data Center

As the Atlassian applications become more and more critical to the business of more and more companies, the need for performance and stability at scale follows the same path. Atlassian has reached a partner agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host Data Center infrastructure on their platform. Setting up a new Data Center environment literally takes no more than a few minutes.

And big news for all of you out there working in IT. We all know how critical updates too often have to be planned late at night or even during weekends. Business systems simply cannot be taken down during office hours. Atlassian’s Data Center solution will soon be releasing Zero Downtime Upgrades. Which is exactly what it says it is. Once and for all, no more weekend work!

Mobile

Last year the first native Mobile Apps for JIRA and Confluence were out in the App Store. New features have been released to both apps. But apart from that, time and effort have been put into making them integrate seamlessly. Integrations now exist between one another and with the desktop versions of your applications. The goal is to be always in sync, no matter where you are. During the Atlassian Summit, JIRA and Confluence Mobile have both been released for Android.

Atlassian Summit

Atlassian Home

Most Atlassian customers use different Atlassian tools. Development teams often combine JIRA Software and Bitbucket Server to plan, track and execute their development work. The requirements process runs through Confluence and JIRA Software. Business teams very often combine documentation in Confluence with task management in JIRA Core. IT and Service teams run on JIRA Service Desk. They use the power of Confluence as a knowledge base and collaborate with development teams in JIRA Software. And all teams communicate in real time with HipChat. As information gets distributed across all these different applications, it’s quite easy to lose track of what matters most. To cover that, Atlassian will be releasing a global dashboard. Picture it as a central place where the information of all its applications comes together: Atlassian Home. Definitely something to look forward to with efficiency in mind!

Atlassian Ecosystem

Around Atlassian and its tools, a huge community has grown. No less than 37 countries bring together Atlassian users and experts in Atlassian User Groups. Over 15.000 people get together a few times a year to share best practices, ask questions to experts and discuss Atlassian related topics. More than 10.000 developers all over the world spend some of their free and professional time building add-ons that extend and enhance the core applications. This huge joint effort has resulted in 2.400 add-ons that are easily available in the Atlassian Marketplace. As it’s becoming a real challenge to find the add-on that really solves your problem, the Marketplace will be enhanced in the near future. The new look and feel will make it easier to search and find exactly the things you need.

Local expertise, support and advice around Atlassian products is provided by partners near you. As from next year onwards, Atlassian is changing its partnership program. Partners will need to prove their expertise to become and stay accredited Solutions Partners. This should be a good thing for customers in search for a reliable, knowledgeable partner nearby to help them get the best out of their tooling.

Unleashing the potential in every team

All great achievements in human history are the result of people working together towards a goal. Some time ago, Atlassian defined its mission as to “Unleash the Potential in Every Team”. At this year’s Atlassian Summit, that mission statement has gone way beyond developing software to support and enable team collaboration. Among the 7 Summit tracks, one track was dedicated specifically to Team and Culture. It featured sessions on Building a Great Workspace, Innovation, Diversity and Global Collaboration, to name a few.

Both internally and with its 60.000 customers, Atlassian has been spending a lot of time on understanding what makes good teams great. Aligned with its company mission, Atlassian is now launching its Team Playbook, a framework available online for every team to benefit from.

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 10.54.36

The playbook offers a Team Health Monitor for different types of teams and their key characteristics to be successful. These monitors allow you to make a clear initial assessment of your own team’s health against criteria that have proven to make sense for each specific kind of team. With the Health Monitor comes a series of documented plays that you are free to use in order to introduce Continous Improvement within your own team. They are there to help you take the next step towards becoming more successful. Documenting the process is enabled by PDF templates and Confluence Blueprints, so you can dive in right away without further ado.

Replay Summit as if you were there

The Atlassian Summit is a must-attend event. But San Jose is not right next door. And even if you get there, the agenda is packed with so many interesting sessions that it’s impossible to see them all. Luckily, all sessions are recorded and all talks and slide decks are available online. For a replay, just visit https://www.atlassian.com/company/events/summit/2016/watch-sessions and watch every session as if you were there.

Whoever wants to join next year, take note that May 2-4, 2017 the first ever European Atlassian Summit will be held in Barcelona. If you’ve never been there before, book your tickets in time!

Useful links

As I already indicated in the opening few sentences, it was an honor to represent ACA IT-Solutions as your local Belgian Solutions Partner at the Atlassian Summit and bring some of the highlights first-handed. I’m also glad to include a few interesting links to materials related to Summit and topics discussed in the post above: