Atlassian has been offering collaboration tools, often favored by developers and IT for some time with such stalwarts as Jira for help desk tickets, Confluence to organize your work and BitBucket to organize your development deliverables, but what it lacked was a machine learning layer across the platform to help users work smarter within and across the applications in the Atlassian family.
That changed today, when Atlassian announced it has been building that machine learning layer, called Atlassian Smarts, and is releasing several tools that take advantage of it. It's worth noting that unlike Salesforce, which calls its intelligence layer Einstein or Adobe, which calls its Sensei, Atlassian chose to forgo the cutesy marketing terms and just let the technology stand on its own.
Shihab Hamid, the founder of the Smarts and Machine Learning Team at Atlassian, who has been with the company 14 years, says they avoided a marketing name by design. "I think one of the things that we're trying to focus on is actually the user experience and so rather than packaging or branding the technology, we're really about optimizing teamwork," Hamid told TechCrunch.
Hamid says that the goal of the machine learning layer is to remove the complexity involved with organizing people and information across the platform.
"Simple tasks like finding the right person or the right document becomes a challenge, or at least they slow down productivity and take time away from the creative high-value work that everyone wants to be doing, and teamwork itself is super messy and collaboration is complicated. These are human challenges that don't really have one right solution," he said.
He says that Atlassian has decided to solve these problems using machine learning with the goal of speeding up repetitive, time-intensive tasks. Much like Adobe or Salesforce, Atlassian has built this underlying layer of machine smarts, for lack of a better term, that can be distributed across their platform to deliver this kind of machine learning-based functionality wherever it makes sense for the particular product or service.
"We've invested in building this functionality directly into the Atlassian platform to bring together IT and development teams to unify work, so the Atlassian flagship products like JIRA and Confluence sit on top of this common platform and benefit from that common functionality across products. And so the idea is if we can build that common predictive capability at the platform layer we can actually proliferate smarts and benefit from the data that we gather across our products," Hamid said.
The first pieces fit into this vision. For starters, Atlassian is offering a smart search tool that helps users find content across Atlassian tools faster by understanding who you are and how you work. "So by knowing where users work and what they work on, we're able to proactively provide access to the right documents and accelerate work," he said.
The second piece is more about collaboration and building teams with the best personnel for a given task. A new tool called predictive user mentions helps Jira and Confluence users find the right people for the job.
"What we've done with the Atlassian platform is actually baked in that intelligence, because we know what you work on and who you collaborate with, so we can predict who should be involved and brought into the conversation," Hamid explained.
Finally, the company announced a tool specifically for Jira users, which bundles together similar sets of help requests and that should lead to faster resolution over doing them manually one at a time.
"We're soon launching a feature in JIRA Service Desk that allows users to cluster similar tickets together, and operate on them to accelerate IT workflows, and this is done in the background using ML techniques to calculate the similarity of tickets, based on the summary and description, and so on."
All of this was made possible by the company's previous shift from mostly on-premises to the cloud and the flexibility that gave them to build new tooling that crosses the entire platform.
Today's announcements are just the start of what Atlassian hopes will be a slew of new machine learning-fueled features being added to the platform in the coming months and years.